Education and school complaints

Education and learning complaints

You can make a complaint about education and learning through the council. Information about making a complaint against a school is below.

The process

We aim to resolve all complaints at the earliest opportunity. Complaints will be acknowledged within 3 working days and stage 1 responses provided within 10 working days. This may be extended to 20 working days for more complex complaints.

Our complaints procedure for education has 3 stages.

Stage 1 – resolution stage

It is important for you to try and tell the people working with you or your family if you are unhappy with what is happening. This could include talking to the member of staff. You can also make your complaint to the complaints manager using our online form. This will be sent to the head of service for resolution.

We can try to explain, put things right, apologise if appropriate and learn from what you tell us. We will try to do this within 10 working days. This can be extended to 20 working days for more complex complaints.

Stage 2 – formal complaint investigation

If you are not satisfied, you have the right to ask for a formal complaint investigation. This must be within 20 working days following the stage 1 response. 

The formal complaint goes to the assistant director of the service area concerned. They will allocate it to an appropriate officer to deal with.

Any complaint based on discrimination, victimisation or harassment will go straight to stage 2.

Stage 3 – Chief Executive’s investigation

The Chief Executive will consider whether the complaint has been dealt with properly. If not, they may set up a review panel.

Make an education complaint

To submit your complaint please fill in our complaint form.

Make an education complaint

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