DOWNLOAD: Complaints Procedure DOWNLOAD: Complaints Form 1 Scope 1.1 A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction that requires a response from the Academy. This procedure deals with such complaints if made by a student, a parent or other external stakeholder, except that there are separate appeals procedures for a parent dissatisfied with a decision regarding either the admission or the exclusion of their child and for appeals against the grade awarded to their child in an external examination. 1.2 There are also separate procedures to deal with staff complaints. These include the Grievance Procedure for a complaint by an employee of unfair treatment, the Harassment Procedure for an employee complaining of bullying or intimidation, the Disciplinary Procedure for an employee complaining about the conduct of another member of staff and the Whistle Blowing Procedure for an unresolved allegation of institutional malpractice. 2 Principles 2.1 Informal queries and complaints should be taken up directly with the relevant member of staff either verbally or in writing. Formal complaints should be addressed to the Principal in writing. 2.2 All complaints will be investigated and dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. The length of the period will vary with the gravity and complexity of the complaint. The Academy aims to complete investigations and notify the complainant of the outcome within six working days whenever possible. Where this is not possible, the complainant will be kept informed of progress on a weekly basis. 2.3 The aim is always to secure the resolution of the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant if possible. 3 Representation 3.1. At any meeting or hearing to which the complainant is invited, the complainant may be accompanied by a friend, colleague or other representative. In this case, the complainant should make their own arrangements for such representation. The representative may ask questions, confer with the complainant and make summary statements but may not answer questions on behalf of the complainant. 4 Recording 4.1 The Principal will acknowledge receipt of a written complaint within three working days. 4.2 The complaint will be recorded, together with the outcome and reasons for the outcome. The complainant will be informed of the outcome in writing, together with their entitlement to appeal the outcome. 4.3 Where the complaint is upheld, any action to be taken by the Academy in response will also be recorded. 5 Informal Procedure 5.1 The Principal will normally direct the complainant to the most appropriate member of staff to deal with it informally. If the complainant indicates that they would have difficulty discussing the complaint with this member of staff, the Principal may direct them to another member of staff. Similarly, if the most appropriate member of staff feels they would have difficulty in dealing with the complaint objectively, the Principal may direct the complainant to another member of staff. 5.2 In certain circumstances, the Principal may instead choose to deal with the complaint informally in person. 5.3 If the complaint has been made in writing, the Principal may choose to treat it as a formal complaint and invoke the formal procedure. 5.4 If the complaint has been made to the Chair of Governors in the first instance, he or she will refer the complaint to the Principal. However, if the complaint concerns the Principal and has already been taken up with the Principal without being resolved, the complaint must be made in writing to the Chair using the Complaint Form (see Appendix A). The Chair will then invoke the formal procedure. 5.5 The member of staff to whom the complainant is referred will carry out an investigation and decide on any appropriate action. The complainant and the Principal will be informed of the conclusions drawn from the investigation and action to be taken, together with details of how to make a formal complaint if they remain dissatisfied. 5.6 Possible outcomes include:
i. complaint resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant;; ii. complaint not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant; iii. complaint dealt with under another procedure;
6 Formal Procedure 6.1 The Principal will ensure the complaint is investigated fully. The Principal may delegate responsibility for conducting the investigation to another member of staff. 6.2 Where the complaint concerns the Principal, the Principal will inform the complainant in writing that they should send a completed Complaint Form to the Chair of Governors, who will then take the place of the Principal throughout the formal procedure. 6.3 The Principal will review all the information and discuss the findings with the complainant with the aim of resolving the complaint to the satisfaction of the complainant. 6.4 The Principal will decide on the outcome and inform the complainant in writing of the decision, together with details of how to appeal against the decision if they remain dissatisfied. 6.5 Possible outcomes include:
iv. complaint withdrawn; v. complaint dismissed; vi. complaint dealt with under another procedure; vii. complaint upheld.
7 Appeal 7.1 If the complainant remains dissatisfied, they should send a completed Complaint Appeal Form (see Appendix B) to the Chair of Governors. 7.2 The Chair may be able to resolve the complaint informally, with the result that the complainant withdraws their appeal. 7.3 If this is not possible, the Chair will convene an appeal hearing by a Governors’ Appeals Committee within ten working days of receipt of the Appeal Form. 8 Appeal Hearing 8.1 The appeal will be heard by a Governors’ Appeal Committee comprising at least three governors, one of whom will act as Chair of the hearing. The Committee may not include the Chair of Governors, an Academy employee or a Governor who has had a prior involvement in the complaint or in the incident to which the complaint refers. 8.2 The Appeal Committee will decide whether or not the outcome of the formal procedure was correct. Accordingly, the respondent will be the person who made that decision; that is, either the Principal or the Chair of Governors. 8.3 The Appeal Committee Chair will decide the procedure to be followed, ensuring that:
i. the remit of the Committee is explained to the parties and each party has the opportunity of putting their case without undue interruption; ii. members of the Committee are objective and open minded, and act independently; iii. the complainant and any others who may not be used to speaking at such a hearing are put at ease; iv. the hearing is conducted in an informal though clearly structured manner with each party treating the other with respect and courtesy; v. each side is given the opportunity to state their case and to ask questions; vi. any written material is seen by all parties. If a new issue arises all parties should be given the opportunity to consider and comment on it; vii. any witnesses are only required to attend for the part of the hearing in which they give their evidence; viii. the issues are addressed; ix. key findings of fact are made.
8.4 The hearing should generally proceed as follows:
i. introductions and introductory comments from the Committee Chair; ii. the complainant explains the complaint, followed by questions; iii. any witnesses to support the complaint give evidence and are questioned; iv. the respondent explains the outcome of the formal procedure, and briefly describes the preceding informal procedure if applicable, followed by questions; v. any witnesses to support the respondent give evidence and are questioned; vi. the complainant sums up; vii. the respondent sums up; viii. with the exception of the Committee members and any independent adviser they may have, all persons withdraw while the Committee reviews the evidence and decides the outcome; ix. the complainant and the respondent are informed of the decision.
8.5 The Appeals Committee may:
i. dismiss the complaint in whole or in part; ii. uphold the complaint in whole or in part; iii. decide on any further action to be taken; iv. If appropriate, recommend changes to the Academy’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not recur.
8.6 The complainant and the Principal will be informed in writing within five days of the outcome of the hearing, the reasons for it and any recommendations for changes to systems or procedures, and that the decision is final. 9 Record Keeping 9.1 Accurate and contemporaneous records should be kept throughout the process, including whether the complaint was resolved at the informal, formal or appeal stage. 9.2 Records should be held in a secure and confidential manner. 10 Monitoring, Evaluation and Review 10.1 The Governing Body will review this procedure within two years and assess its implementation and effectiveness.