Complaints Procedure

Each day we make many decisions and try hard to do our best for all our pupils. Your comments – either positive or negative – are helpful for future planning. You may want to talk to us about a particular aspect of St George’s which is not a complaint. Many parents pass on their ideas and thoughts informally to staff and we value their support. There are many opportunities for you to do this.

However, if you are dissatisfied about the way your child is being treated, or any actions or lack of action by us, as explained in the School Prospectus and information given to you when your child joined the school, you have the right to complain.

HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT

First Stage

If you have a concern about anything we do or if you wish to make a complaint you can do this by telephone or in writing to your child’s tutor. Our policy is that the first point of contact is the Tutor, then the Head of House. The Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) can also be contacted if it is about special educational needs. You may want to come and talk to the Head of House – please remember that appointments are necessary as all staff have busy teaching schedules.

We hope that most complaints can be settled quickly and informally. If we are at fault we will do our best to put matters right: we may also provide you with an explanation as to how and why as professionals we have made a certain decision. Because our priorities are teaching and learning and all complaints should be investigated it may take some time for staff involved to look into the matter. Most issues are dealt with within 5 to 15 school days. You will be told if it will take longer and the reasons for this. One of the Deputy Head teachers has responsibility for comments and complaints and you may wish to contact the designated Deputy. In a large secondary school there are various managers who will deal with pupil issues at different levels, and we will try to ensure that your issue is picked up by the most appropriate person. In the case of a Boarding issue this would be a senior member of boarding staff and ultimately the Director of Boarding; subject issues by the department concerned; exam issues by the examinations officer

Second Stage

If the matter is not resolved with the staff directly responsible your next step would be to escalate your complaint to a more formal level by putting the complaint in writing to the Headmistress. To begin the second Stage a formal complaint must be made by completing the School’s Formal Complaint Form which can be downloaded from the School’s Website by clicking here (if you are reading this online). A hard copy can be obtained by clicking here

Once completed the Form must be sent to:

The Headmistress
St George’s School Academy Trust
Sun Lane
Harpenden
AL5 4TD

However, should the complaint be about the Headmistress it should be addressed to the Chair of Governors, who will manage the complaint.

Or attached to an email addressed to: admin@stgeorges.herts.sch.uk marked for the attention of the Headmistress, with the subject line: Formal Complaint.

Complaints should be submitted as soon as possible and within 10 school days of an incident of concern, or within 10 school days of your becoming aware of the issues that give rise to a complaint in circumstances where you were previously unaware. Complaints sent after this period will not normally be considered, as they will be deemed ‘out of time’. This is to ensure that any complaints are investigated as soon as possible and acted upon promptly

On receipt of a Formal Complaint Form the Headmaster will appoint an Investigator who will contact you to discuss your complaint and to establish if any, or all, aspects can be resolved quickly. Wherever possible, the Investigator will attempt to resolve complaints through professional dialogue at an early stage. The Investigator will confirm with you the agreed main areas of your complaint that will be subject to thorough investigation.

A Written response will be provided for all complaints investigated at the Second Stage. The response will provide a clear conclusion on whether or not the complaint has been upheld and may link together similar issues for conciseness and clarity. On occasions, where the evidence is inconclusive because of differing opinions that cannot reasonably be resolved through independent corroboration, the outcome will be recorded as ‘no conclusion could be reached’. Where this occurs, the reasons for not reaching a conclusion will be clearly explained.

As part of carrying out the investigation, the Investigator will consider in detail all the information submitted and issues raised. The Investigator will only consider direct evidence that can be substantiated.

It should be noted that investigation responses to Complainants not directly linked to an incident may be limited by the information that can be disclosed to a third party under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Where multiple complaints are received about the same incident or issue of concern, the Headmaster may direct that a single investigation is undertaken covering a similar complaint from different individuals. This would lead to a single investigation response which would be communicated to all Complainants.

Our aim is to respond to all complaints as quickly as possible. A written response will be sent to complainants as soon as is practicable and normally within 30 school days of the date of receipt of the Formal Complaint Form. The complaint response will include an explanation of any steps that the school will take as a result of the investigation but will not detail any action taken u n d e r the staff discipline or pupil discipline policies.

Third Stage

If you are not satisfied at the end of the Second Stage you can ask for a review of the investigation of your complaint by the Governors. Your request must be made in writing and delivered to the Chairman of Governors, via the Clerk to the Governors at the school within 10 school days of the date of the written response to the Second Stage of your complaint.

The Chairman will then arrange for your complaint to be investigated afresh. This will usually involve the appointment of a Complaints Panel to act on behalf of the Governing Body. At least one of the members of the Panel will be independent of the management and running of the school. You will receive, within 10 school days from receipt of your written request to the Chairman, a progress report that will also tell you what will happen next. The members of the Panel who investigate your complaint will not have been directly involved with the matters detailed in the complaint. You will be given full details of how the Complaints Panel will deal with your complaint. It is most likely that this will be by way of a formal hearing at which you may attend and be accompanied if you wish.

When your complaint has been fully investigated you will be told of the outcome by electronic mail or otherwise within 5 school days of any hearing date, or within 30 school days of your written request to the Chairman if there is no hearing. Once you have been told the outcome of the third stage of your complaint that ends the complaints procedure and your complaint will be deemed to have been dealt with and concluded.

The school will not pay financial compensation as a response to complaints.

The Complaints Panel will also make available both to you and, where relevant, any person complained about, by electronic mail or otherwise, any recommendations they have for the Governing Body.

The school will keep a written record of all complaints and whether they are resolved at the Second or Third Stage.

The school will do its best to:

  • deal with the complaint honestly, politely and in confidence;
  • lookatyourcomplaintthoroughlyandfairly;
  • deal with your complaint quickly if it is urgent
  • keep you up to date with the progress of your complaint if it is complicated;
  • provide an apology if we have made a mistake, or if your complaint or aspects of it are found to be justified.

There is a separate procedure for child protection issues. If you are concerned about a child protection safeguarding issue or that a child is at risk of being abused you should immediately contact school by telephone and ask to speak with the school’s Child Protection Officer or Designated Senior Person.

St. George’s School is an Academy and operates independently of the Local Authority. Accordingly, the Local Authority is unable to investigate complaints regarding St. George’s. If you wish to escalate a complaint about St. George’s which you believe has not been satisfactorily resolved through this complaints procedure you should contact the Secretary of State at the Department for Education as soon as possible after the conclusion of the Third Stage of your complaint and request that the complaint be passed to the Education Funding Agency. The Secretary of State can be contacted at The Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT. Telephone: 0870 000 2288

HOW THE SCHOOL WILL HANDLE COMPLAINTS MADE BY:

  • A member of Staff about another member of Staff or the Head Teacher.
  • A member of the Governing Body about a member of Staff.
  • A member of Staff about a member of the Governing Body.
  • A member of Staff about the action/decision of the Governing Body
  • Members of the public (not Parents).
  • A Parent whose child no longer attends the school.
  • Anonymous complaints

Complaint made by one member of Staff against another (including the Headmistress)

Complaints from members of Staff are not covered by this procedure. They will be dealt with by the Headmaster (where appropriate) or the Chairman of Governors informally in the first instance. If this approach fails to resolve the issue, the next step would be for the Staff Grievance Procedure to be invoked (by the person bringing the grievance).

Complaint made by a Governor about a member of Staff

This will be dealt with through this complaints procedure. The Governor concerned will have to withdraw from any meeting at which the complaint or its outcome is being discussed. If the complaint is related to the conduct of a member of Staff, it may be dealt with through the school's Disciplinary Procedures.

Complaint by a member of Staff against an individual Governor acting in a personal capacity

The Chairman of the Governing Body (or the Vice-Chairman if the complaint is against the Chairman) should attempt to resolve the matter informally. If such a resolution is not possible, and with the agreement of the Governor concerned, a Complaints Panel of Governors will be set up to consider the matter as under the complaints procedure in this document.

Complaint by a member of Staff against the action/decision of the Governing Body

If the decision was taken at a meeting of the full Governing Body the matter will be put on the agenda for review at another meeting and if the decision was then confirmed that would be the end of the matter. If a committee or individual with delegated authority took the original decision then a Panel of Governors who were not involved in the decision will review the matter, ensuring that the member of Staff concerned was given an opportunity to state his/her case to the Panel. Any decision by the Panel will be final.

Complaint by a member of the public (not a Parent)

Complaints from members of the public will be dealt with by the Headmistress and beyond that the Chairman of Governors.

Complaint by a Parent whose child no longer attends the school

The purpose of this complaints procedure is to ensure that if an error has been made, or an injustice done, some action can be taken to remedy matters for the injured party. Where Parents have removed their child from the roll of a school it is clearly impossible for the Governing Body to put things right for that child. However, the Governing Body has a duty of care to the pupils who remain on roll and will investigate the circumstances to satisfy themselves that no-one had acted inappropriately and that procedures and policies had been followed correctly. Whilst no Governor’s Complaint Panel will be convened, Parents will be informed whether the complaint had been upheld or otherwise and of any changes to practice and procedures which have been agreed by the Governing Body

Anonymous complaints

Should a complaint be made anonymously, the school will not deal with it unless it receives at the same time evidence, which the school can independently verify, in support of the complaint.

Background