School complaints

Making a complaint about a school

Speak to the teacher. Speak to the relevant member of staff as soon as you have a concern. In a primary school, this may be the class teacher; in a secondary school it may be the form tutor or head of year. This informal approach is nearly always the quickest and most effective way of resolving your concerns.

Ask for the school's complaints procedure. All schools, including academies will have a complaints process. If you feel that your concern has not been answered ask the school for a copy of its complaints procedure; this will explain what you should do next. Most schools' complaints procedures have three stages which should be followed in sequence:

  • Stage 1 - Speak to or write to the head teacher (or in some schools a designated senior member of staff), who will look into your concern. The head teacher will contact you to discuss the problem and you will usually be invited to a meeting to discuss this further. The head teacher will then conduct a full investigation of the complaint and may interview if appropriate any members of staff or pupils concerned. You will receive a written response to your complaint.
  • Stage 2 - Write to the chair of governors if you are unhappy with the head teacher's response. Mark your letter 'Private and Confidential' and hand it into the school.
  • Stage 3 - The school's procedures may also offer an appeal to the governing body's complaints panel. This panel consists of three governors who have no prior knowledge of your complaint and will consider written and verbal submissions from you and the head teacher. 
Taking your complaint further

When you have exhausted the school complaints process and if you feel that the school has acted unreasonably or not followed the correct procedures in relation to your complaint, then you can write to the Department for Education's (DfE) Schools Complaints Unit (SCU).

Making a complaint to the DfE should only happen after you have exhausted the schools complaints process above. When making a complaint to the DfE you should provide copies of any documentation you have about the complaint; this will help them to investigate your case. Make a complaint to the DfE online.

Further information can be obtained from the SCU website, calling 0370 000 2288 by writing to Department for Education School Complaints Unit, 2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD.