School complaints process
All school governing bodies are required to have a complaints procedure. This should be published and made available to you upon request.
There are different processes for complaints about Council-run schools, and about academies and free or independent schools.
Who to contact depends on the nature of your complaint.
- If your complaint is about a school, follow step 1. Find school contact details
- If your complaint is about the headteacher, go directly to step 2
- If your complaint is about the governing body, go to step 3
Contact the headteacher with details of your complaint. The headteacher will investigate it and reply to you.
If you are unhappy with the way the headteacher has dealt with your complaint, or if your complaint is about the headteacher, you should contact the Chair of Governors at your school. The school governors will look into your complaint or arrange for a clerked governor's panel to look at your concerns and will write to you with a reply.
If you are unhappy with the way the governing body has dealt with your complaint, or if your complaint is about the governing body, check whether your school includes a mediation step in its complaints policy. If it does, you may refer to the Local Authority (see below). If it does not, you will need to send your complaint to the Secretary of State for Education.
Although the Local Authority no longer has a formal role to play in school complaints, it will offer to mediate between a complainant and a school, if both parties agree to this. The Local Authority will work with both parties to agree a satisfactory outcome.
Secretary of State for Education
Making a complaint to the Department for Education should only happen after other routes have been followed. The exception to this may include such matters as child protection, or where a child is missing education.
You can get free legal advice on matters relating to children's education at Coram Children's Legal Centre.
Department of Education and Social Services
Telephone: 020 8871 7300
Academies and free or independent schools
The council does not currently have a formal role in complaints made against academies and free or independent schools.
If you remain dissatisfied with how your complaint has been dealt with by the academy or school, you can ask the Department for Education to look at your concerns. They cannot review or overturn an academy or school's decisions about complaints but will look at whether they considered the complaint appropriately.
DfE will generally only do this after a complaint has been through the academy or school's own procedure, but may investigate sooner if there is evidence of undue delays by the academy or school. If the DfE finds that an academy or school did not deal with a complaint appropriately it will request that the complaint is reconsidered. Similarly, if the academy or school's complaints procedure does not meet legal requirements then the Department for Education will ensure this is put right.