This page explains the usual procedure that you should follow if
you have a concern or a complaint about a school issue.
Dealing informally with concerns and complaints
If you have a concern or complaint you should make contact with
the appropriate member of staff. This may be the class teacher or
the headteacher if they are immediately involved.
They can then investigate your complaint or concern and
give you a response, making clear any action or monitoring of a
situation that may be necessary. At this stage, misunderstandings
can usually be cleared up. Everyone benefits from the speedy
resolution of difficulties and from suggestions for
If no satisfactory solution to the complaint has been agreed you
should be informed of your option to take the matter further.
Reporting formal complaints about school issues
If you have a complaint about a school issue, it's the
responsibility of the school, and not the local authority, to
investigate most complaints. Each school will have a complaints
procedure which will tell you who to direct your complaint to and
when you could expect a response by. List of schools and their contact
If you want to take the matter further, you should put your
complaint, in writing, to the headteacher. If your complaint is
about the headteacher, you should put your complaint, in writing,
to the chair of governors.
Your complaint should be dealt with in an agreed timescale as
part of the school's complaints procedure. You should ask for a
copy of the school's complaints procedure which should tell you how
the school will investigate the complaint. An investigation into
your complaint should be carried out by the appropriate person (the
headteacher or the chair of governors).
When all the relevant facts have been established, you should
receive a written response.
What to do if you're unhappy with the response
You should be advised that if you wish to take the matter
further you should write to the chair of the governing body.
A further investigation of your complaint should be carried
- By the chair of governors if they've not had any previous
- By the governing body's complaints committee.
If the matter is dealt with at this stage by the chair of
governors, and you are unhappy with the outcome, you should be
advised of your right to take the matter further to the governing
body’s complaints committee.
The complaints committee should carry out a detailed
investigation into the complaint.
A meeting should be arranged, and everyone involved should
receive copies of all available documentation about the complaint.
You should be invited to attend the committee meeting to put your
case (you may bring a friend or someone to represent you). The
headteacher should also be invited to put the case for the school
(the headteacher will be able to bring a friend or professional
representative). You and the headteacher will be invited to speak
to the panel (which will have 3 governors on it) and to ask and
answer questions. The panel normally allows witnesses to attend
part of the meeting.
What happens after a detailed investigation
You should be informed in writing of the panel's decision.
The 'appeal' hearing by the schools complaints committee or
panel is the last school-based stage of the complaints
process. All complaints about maintained schools not resolved
by the school that would have been considered by the Local
Government Ombudsman or the local authority should be addressed to
the Secretary of State for Education.
Local authorities and the Local Government
Ombudsman continue to be responsible for considering
complaints about local authority services.
Finally, the Education and Inspections Act 2006 gives Ofsted new
powers to investigate complaints from parents about schools.
The new powers to consider parental complaints come into effect
in April 2007. They relate to complaints by registered parents and
carers about their child’s school as a whole. For example that:
- The school is not providing a good enough education.
- The pupils are not achieving as much as they should, or their
needs are not being met.
- The school is not well led and managed or is not using its
- The pupils' personal development and well-being are being
Ofsted will usually suggest that parents use the schools
complaints procedures first. They are not in a position to judge
how well a school investigated or responded to a complaint or to
mediate between a parent and a school to resolve a dispute.
Complaints dealt with by the Local Authority
Most concerns or complaints are of a general nature and are
dealt with by the school under their own complaints procedure.
However, concerns or complaints about any of the following issues
should be made in writing to the Local Authority.
These are specifically concerns about areas where the authority
has a statutory duty:
- The provision of the national curriculum (the Education Act
2011 removed the duty for Local Authorities to consider
complaints relating to the curriculum).
- The provision of religious education and collective worship
(with the exception of church aided schools).
- School admission appeals.
- Special educational needs assessments.
- Child protection issues and allegations of child abuse.
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 also places a duty on the
Local Authority to consider representations from parents about
school provision in their area. This relates to the opportunities
of choice and the diversity of schools in the area. The Local
Authority must consider what action to take in response to such
representations and provide a statement to the parent setting out
any action which the authority propose to take in response or,
where relevant, their reasons for taking no action, in each case
having regard to guidance from the Secretary of State.