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Education and school complaints

School complaints

Schools and academies have their own complaints procedure. The school complaints procedure should be published on the school’s website. It should tell you what kind of complaints the school will deal with, such as bullying or bad behaviour. You may not be able to complain direct to academies or free schools if you do not have a child at the school.

It is in everyone’s interest that concerns and complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to use the formal stages of the complaints procedure. Schools take concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

The process

Most schools' complaints procedures have 2 stages but they may have more.

Stage 1

Formal complaints must be made to the headteacher (unless they are about the headteacher), through the school office.

The headteacher may delegate the investigation to another member of the school’s senior leadership team but not the decision to be taken.

The headteacher will tell you how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of stage 1.

Stage 2

This is an appeal stage. The appeal is heard by members of the governing body who will consider the complaint again.

Next steps

If you believe the school did not handle their complaint in line with their published complaints procedure or they acted unlawfully or unreasonably in the exercise of their duties under education law, you can contact the Department for Education. This must be after stage 2 is completed.

The Department for Education will not normally reinvestigate the substance of complaints or overturn any decisions made by a school. They will consider whether a school has followed education legislation and any statutory policies connected with the complaint.

You can refer your complaint to the Department for Education by:

Department for Education
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD