Complaints about schools

If you want to make a complaint about a school, the complaint has to be dealt with by the school and its governing body.

We have no legal right or duty to deal with complaints about schools, but we can offer you help and advice if you need to make a complaint and work with you and your child's school to try to resolve it.

When we receive your complaint, we'll usually tell the school, so that they can take steps to deal with it. Where appropriate, we may also inform other services, such as education welfare, or behaviour support, so that they can support you and your child and the school as necessary.

Where a complaint involves child protection issues we'll always refer this to the Safeguarding Children Unit.

Making a complaint

When you want to make a complaint about your child's school, it's important that you follow the school's complaints procedures.  All schools must have them.  If you can't find them on the school's website, ask the school for a copy. Procedures can vary from school to school, so read them carefully to see what steps you need to take.

You may be able to sort out your concern or complaint quickly just by speaking with your child's class teacher (primary) or their form tutor, subject teacher, or head of year (secondary) as set out in the procedures.

If you're not satisfied with their response, you should make a formal complaint to the headteacher by filling in a complaints form and taking it in to school.  Again, refer to their procedures just to make sure

The school will acknowledge your complaint .and let you know how they are dealing with it. The school complaints procedure will set out their expected timescales for a response.

If the complaint isn't resolved or if your complaint's about the headteacher

If the school doesn't resolve your complaint once you've submitted it formally, you can put your complaint to the school governors by writing to the chairperson at the school address.

If your complaint is about the headteacher, you can write straight to the chair of governors.

If you're still not satisfied with the outcome once your complaint's been to the governing body, we'll advise you whether or not you have grounds on which to make an appeal to the governing body's complaints committee. You can't make an appeal simply on the grounds that you disagree with the outcome.

If your complaint can't be resolved

Where a complaint can't be resolved, you, the headteacher and the governors can seek our advice. We'll review whether or not the school managed the complaint properly, but we can't investigate the actual complaint you made to the school.

When we're dealing with your complaint, we'll follow the procedures we're required to have in place for dealing with certain types of complaints, for example complaints about the curriculum or collective worship in a school.

Review of a complaint about a school

If you wish to pursue a complaint because you feel a school has acted unreasonably or illegally, you can write to the Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families at the Department for Education, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BT.

The Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) also investigates certain types of complaints from parents to help them to decide whether to inspect a school, though in most cases you should raise any problems with the school first.

Related information

You can find more information about how to make a complaint about a school on Ofsted's website.