The Hathershaw College

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Complaints Procedure

Principles

At The Hathershaw College we take our responsibility for the development and education of our students seriously and value the support and partnership of parents and carers. We welcome feedback on all aspects of our work and any concerns are considered very seriously and always with a view to seeking a resolution at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our complaints procedure is designed to:

  • be simple to understand;
  • be impartial;
  • be non-adversarial;
  • allow swift handling of complaints within established time limits;
  • ensure a fair investigation;
  • respect confidentiality;
  • provide an effective response and appropriate redress.

This Complaints Procedure does not apply to issues concerning statutory assessments of SEND, school exclusions or any decisions which are subject to separate appeals processes.

Concerns from staff members are dealt with under the college’s Grievance Procedure and any concerns about staff conduct and capability are also subject to separate investigative procedures.

Complaints about services provided by other providers who may use the College premises or facilities should be made to the provider concerned and dealt with in accordance with their policy and procedures.

The College’s Complaints Co-ordinator is the Principal. He will be responsible for any records and hold them centrally. Records may be:

  • notes from face to face discussions or telephone calls;
  • letters;
  • complaints forms.

The Principal and Local Governing Body will monitor the level and nature of complaints on a regular basis to ensure the effectiveness of this procedure and make changes where necessary.

 

The Procedure

There are three stages in the complaints procedure:

Stage 1 – Informal complaint heard by staff member

The complaint must be made as soon as is practicable and normally within 10 working school days of the incident causing concern coming to light.

  • Initial contact from the complainant may be face to face, by phone call, email or letter.
  • If the complainant indicates that she/he will have difficulty discussing a complaint with a particular member of staff, the Principal can refer the complainant to another member of staff such as the Curriculum Leader, Year Manager or SLT link.
  • If the member of staff directly involved in the complaint feels too compromised to deal with the complainant, the Principal may consider referring the complainant to another member of staff, such as the Curriculum Leader, Year Manager or SLT link.
  • The appropriate member of staff will investigate the complaint and provide written or verbal feedback as appropriate and within 5 working school days of being notified of the concern.
  • The complainant may be invited into the College and will be allowed to bring along someone to support them. The College should be notified in advance of who will be attending the meeting.
  • If the complaint concerns the Principal, he will refer the complainant to the Chair of Governors.

In most cases, concerns will be resolved at Stage 1 of this procedure, but if this is not the case and the outcome is considered unsatisfactory or unacceptable, details of this policy and the formal complaints procedure will be provided to the complainant, including a Stage 2 Complaint Form.

The complainant will be invited to complete the Stage 2 Complaint Form and return it to the Principal within 10 working school days of receipt of the form.

Stage 2 – Formal complaint heard by the Principal

  • On receipt of a completed Stage 2 Complaint Form, the Principal or his nominated member of SLT will investigate the complaint and provide a response to the complainant.
  • The Principal may delegate the task of collating the information required to another member of SLT but not the decision on the action to be taken.
  • Where possible, the Principal or his nominated member of SLT, will investigate and respond within 10 working school days. If this is not possible, the reason why will be explained and an alternative timescale agreed. A longer timescale may be necessary to fully understand the complaint and /or to investigate it.
  • If the complaint concerns the Principal or a member of the Local Governing Body, it will be investigated by the Chair of Governors or a governor who has not previously been involved in the complaint.
  • The Principal will provide an opportunity for the complainant to discuss their concerns and find solutions. This could be by phone or in a face to face meeting.
  • The complainant will be allowed to bring along someone to support them, although the school should be notified in advance who will be attending the meeting.
  • Following investigation the Principal, or his nominated member of SLT, will respond in writing to the complainant and will inform them of their right of appeal to Governors (Stage 3).
  • Stage 2 complaints will be recorded by the Principal for monitoring purposes

If dissatisfied, the complainant will be advised to complete a Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form and return it to the Principal within 10 working school days of receipt of the form.

Stage 3 – Complaint heard by the Governing Body’s Complaint Appeal Panel

On receipt of a completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form and within 5 working school days, the Principal will acknowledge receipt and notify the complainant of the date on which their appeal will be heard.

The Complaints Appeal Panel of the Governing Body will comprise of three nominated governors who have not previously been involved with the complaint. The Panel will normally meet within 20 working school days of receiving the completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form. Only matters arising from any complaint(s) considered at Stage 2 will be considered, although the Panel may use its discretion to consider other relevant and related matters that may subsequently arise.

The following are entitled to attend the appeal, submit written representations and address the Panel:

  • The complainant and/or one representative;
  • The Principal and/or one representative (role subject to prior involvement in the complaint);
  • Any person whom the Governors Complaint Appeals Panel considers to have a reasonable and just interest in the appeal and whose contribution would assist the Panel in their decision-making.

Legal representation will not normally be appropriate. All parties will be given the opportunity to submit written evidence to the Panel, including:

  • the completed Stage 3 Complaint Appeal Form;
  • documents in support of the complaint;
  • chronology and key dates relating to the complaint and the College’s response;
  • details of the decision made at Stage 2

Documents will be collated by the Principal, who will then circulate documentation to all parties along with an order of proceedings. Wherever possible, all written evidence must be received by the Principal no later than 10 working school days in advance of the appeal meeting. The Principal will ensure that all necessary papers are distributed to the relevant parties no later than 5 working school days in advance of the appeal meeting.

The appeal will be conducted in accordance with the agreed format for Complaint Appeals and with a view to ensuring that the nature of the complaint and the steps taken so far are understood and to enable a clear and final decision to be made.

In most cases it is anticipated that it will be possible for the Panel to respond to the complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is required, the Panel will decide how it should be carried out and agree next steps with the complainant. In such cases it may be necessary for the Complaints Appeal Panel to meet again to determine final outcomes.

Once a final decision has been reached it will be notified in writing to the complainant within 3 working school days of the appeal meeting. The letter will state the reason(s) for the decision reached and any recommendations made by the Appeal Panel.

The Panel can:

  • dismiss the complaint in whole or in part;
  • uphold the complaint in whole or in part;
  • decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint;
  • recommend changes to the College’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not occur.

A record of the meeting and outcomes will be kept by the Principal for monitoring purposes.

Unacceptable Behaviour

Complainants and their supporters must treat school staff and governors with respect at all times and not display any rude or aggressive behaviour. If there is unacceptable behaviour at any of the meetings at Stage 1, Stage 2 or Stage 3 the meetings will be adjourned and the complainant asked to leave the premises. Meetings will be rescheduled after the school has received written assurance that there will be no repetition of the unacceptable behaviour.

 

Complaints to the Education and Skills funding Agency (ESFA)

If complainants are not satisfied with the College’s handling of their complaint, a complaint can be made to the ESFA by completing the relevant form which is available on the gov.uk website using this link: https://form.education.gov.uk/en/AchieveForms/?form_uri=sandbox-publish://AF-Process-f1453496-7d8a-463f-9f33-1da2ac47ed76/AF-Stage-1e64d4cc-25fb-499a-a8d7-74e98203ac00/definition.json&redirectlink=%2Fen&cancelRedirectLink=%2Fen

 

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