James Walker, Consumer Champion explains How to Raise a Complaint if you are unhappy with your child’s schooling, further education or university education.

With the new academic year now underway, pupils – and their parents – will be firmly focused on ensuring they get a good education.

But between now and the end of the summer term, there could be times when you may need to raise a complaint to a school, further education or higher education establishment.

There are many different ways to approach this and all sorts of routes both informal and formal to take to get a resolution.

So if you do encounter an issue it’s important you understand what to do, who to approach and where you can get further help from if things are not resolved as you’d wish.

Many complaints around education may need no more than a quick chat to a teacher and a bit of friendly advice or discussion, this is how austin spanish immersion preschool takes care of things and it work for them. But it’s always worth remembering that for parents, the education of their children is one of the biggest worries they will ever face.

That means if you believe you have an issue, however small it seems, you should raise it and get it dealt with, just in case it escalates into something more problematic or even harmful to your child or teenager.

So what can you do if something goes wrong or you feel you have an issue that needs addressing?

How to Raise a Complaint

Firstly, try to sort it out informally where possible.

Whenever you can, it’s best to do this via a polite discussion over the phone, in person or with an initial email approach. This is useful so you have the information down in writing, just in case the complaint needs to be escalated.

Make sure you list your worries, fears and grievances in as simple a way as possible, in the order that things happened. Sometimes just a series of bullet points will help. And try to add dates and times next to any specific incidents.

Many complaints are generally relatively easy to resolve; they might be about your child being late, getting into trouble for not finishing homework or as in the case of some recent high-profile news stories, not wearing the appropriate school uniform.

Often these can be solved through a simple face-to-face meeting with a head of department, head teacher, school governor or lecturer.

But sometimes issues can’t be solved in this way and you have to go down a more formal route

There are different ways you can complain, depending on where your child goes to school, college or university. Remember, though, that if you think your child is in danger or at risk of being harmed in anyway, however small, call the police on 101 or your local council.

Don’t forget though, the official police advice from their website is that you should always call 999 when it is an emergency, such as a crime is in progress, someone suspected of a crime nearby, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened.

So what are the routes to follow. Here I’ve broken them down depending on the educational establishment involved.

If your child attends a State school. State schools include: Maintained schools, Academies and Free schools:

  1. Follow the school’s own complaints system. If you are having trouble, call them up as they are obliged to have an official complaints process.
  2. Complain in writing to the head teacher
  3. Complain in writing to the Governor’s board of the school
  4. Complain to the Department for Education
  5. If you are complaining about how the school is run, then contact Ofsted

If your child attends a Private school:

  1. Follow the school’s complaints procedure
  2. Complain in writing to the head teacher
  3. Complain in writing to the school’s governing body
  4. Raise anything further with the Department for Education.

If your child attends a Special Educational Needs school:

  1. Talk to the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator
  2. Follow the school’s complaints procedure
  3. Complain to your local authority if you’re not happy with how the school has dealt with your complaint

If your child is in Further Education: This can be a further education college, an adult learning organisation that offers qualifications or a business running an apprenticeship scheme.

  1.    Talk informally at first to the relevant lecturer or head of department
  2.    Follow the official complaints procedure
  3.    Complain to the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). You must do so within three months of getting a decision through the official procedure

If your child is in Higher Education such as a university:

  1. Talk it through informally at first
  2. Get details of the internal complaints procedures from the students’ union or the higher education establishment’s website or handbook
  3. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may have a right to appeal
  4. At the end of this process, you should be given a Completion of Procedures Letter clearly stating what has been considered and detailing the final decision made
  5. If you are still not satisfied, you may then be able to raise the case with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator who deal with student complaints in England and Wales. However, consult its website to see which providers it covers and what specific issues it can handle complaints about. You may also be able to speak to the Education Funding Agency

Written by James Walker Fighting For Your Rights! Consumer Champion – the man who helps you resolve your consumer complaints! James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution tool Resolver.co.uk Follow James via @resolvercouk,[email protected]