Milton Abbey School has long prided itself on the quality of the teaching and pastoral care provided to its pupils. However, if parents do have a complaint, they can expect it to be treated by the School in accordance with this Procedure.
Parents can be assured that all concerns and complaints will be treated seriously and confidentially. Correspondence, statements and records will be kept confidential except in so far as disclosure is required by law or in the course of the School's statutory inspection.
Please note that no complaint may be brought under the Procedure in relation to the non-payment of any sum(s) owing to the school. If a parent has a complaint regarding any action taken (or proposed to be taken) by the School as a result of his/her failure to pay any sum(s) owing to the school the parent may write to the Clerk of the Governors, Milton Abbey School, who will refer the matter to the Chairman of the Governors.
Stage 1 - Informal Resolution
1.1 It is hoped that most complaints and concerns will be resolved quickly and informally.
1.2 If a parent has a complaint they should normally contact their child's HsM. In many cases, the matter will be resolved straightaway to the parent's satisfaction. If the HsM cannot resolve the matter alone, it may be necessary for him/her to consult the Headmaster.
1.3 The HsM (as the case may be) will make a written record of all concerns and complaints and the date on which they were received.
1.4 Complaints made directly to the Headmaster will usually be referred to the relevant HsM unless the Headmaster deems it appropriate for him/her to deal with the matter personally (the Headmaster will not be personally involved at this stage).
1.5 Should the matter not be resolved within 14 days or in the event that the HsM and the parent fails to reach a satisfactory resolution then the parent will be advised to proceed with their complaint in accordance with Stage 2 of this Procedure.
Stage 2 - Formal Resolution
2.1 If the complaint cannot be resolved on an informal basis, then the parent should put their complaint in writing to the Headmaster. The Headmaster will decide the appropriate course of action to take, after considering the complaint and consulting the Deputy Head, if deemed necessary.
2.2 The Headmaster will normally meet with the parent within 7 days of receiving the complaint, to discuss the matter. If possible, a resolution will be reached at this stage.
2.3 It may be necessary for the Headmaster to carry out further investigations.
2.4 The Headmaster will keep written records of all meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint.
2.5 Once the Headmaster is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all the relevant facts have been established, a decision will be made and the parents will be informed of this decision in writing. The Headmaster will also give reasons for his/her decision.
2.6 If the parent is still not satisfied with the decision, they should proceed to Stage 3 of this Procedure.
Stage 3 - The Complaints Panel
3.1 If a parent wishes to invoke Stage 3 (following a failure to reach an earlier resolution), they should send written notice of their complaint to the Clerk to the Governors of Milton Abbey School. The matter will then be referred to the Complaints Panel for consideration.
3.2 In their written notice of complaint, the parent should give reasonable particulars of their complaint and should specify the outcome they are seeking.
3.3 The Panel will consist of at least three persons who have not been directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint. At least one member of the Panel shall be independent of the management and running of the school.
3.4 Each of the Panel members shall be appointed by the Chairman of Governors of Milton Abbey School.
3.5 Having appointed the Panel, the Chairman shall designate the Panel as a Category A Panel or a Category B Panel and the Clerk shall notify the parent accordingly. A Category A Panel has the power to make a final and binding decision on behalf of the Governors in respect of the parent's complaint. A Category B Panel only has the power to make recommendations to the Governors in respect of the parent's complaint.
3.6 The Panel shall nominate one of their number as Chairman of the Panel.
3.7 The Clerk will acknowledge the complaint on behalf of the Panel and schedule a hearing to take place as soon as practicable and normally within 28 days of his/her receipt of the complaint.
3.8 In the case of a complaint regarding a pupil's suspension or exclusion, the Headmaster shall have complete discretion as to whether to implement the suspension or exclusion of the pupil, pending the Panel's decision.
3.9 At least 7 days before the hearing, the Headmaster shall submit to the Panel a written statement setting out his own views in relation to the parent's complaint. The Clerk shall give a copy of the Headmaster's statement to the parent.
3.10 If the Panel deems it necessary, it may require that further particulars of the complaint or any related matter be supplied in advance of the hearing. Copies of such particulars shall be supplied to parents not later than three days prior to the hearing.
3.11 The Panel may conduct such interviews before the hearing as it sees fit. The Panel will arrange for the parent to be given, before the hearing, either a copy of the minutes of the interviews or a summary of the comments made by the interviewees that are relevant to the parent's complaint.
3.12 If during the course of its investigations or deliberations a Category A Panel uncovers issues that cause the Panel to conclude that the parent's complaint should be considered by the Governors, the Panel may request that the Chairman re-designates the Panel as a Category B Panel (instead of a Category A Panel). If the Chairman agrees, he shall re-designate the Panel accordingly. The parent shall be notified of any such re-designation.
3.13 At least three days prior to the hearing the parent shall submit to the Clerk copies of all documentation they intend to rely upon at the hearing.
3.14 On request, the parent shall be provided with a copy of their child's school file.
3.15 There may be circumstances where it would be more suitable to hold the hearing outside the School. In those circumstances, the Clerk will arrange for a more neutral location (e.g. another school in the locality).
3.16 The parent may be accompanied at the hearing by one other person. This may be a relative, teacher or friend. Legal representation will not normally be appropriate.
3.17 If possible, the Panel will resolve the parent's complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is required, the Panel will decide how it should be carried out.
3.18 If the Chairman of the Panel shall so decide, the proceedings may be recorded.
3.19 The Chairman of the Panel will not normally permit any person under the age of 18 or any pupil at the School to attend the hearing.
3.20 If the Chairman of the Panel reasonably believes that the Panel should hear evidence from an individual in private (i.e. in the absence of the parent bringing the complaint or any third party), he/she may so decide. In those circumstances, the parent will be given reasons for that decision. The parent will be given a summary of the individual's evidence after the event if the Chairman believes the evidence to be relevant to the parent's complaint.
3.21 The Panel may make decisions by majority vote.
3.22 The Panel's findings in relation to the parent's complaint shall be documented in the form of a report.
3.23 Within 10 days, after the hearing, the Clerk will send the parent and the Headmaster a copy of the Panel's draft report. If the parent believe that the Panel have not accurately summarised their complaint in the report, the parent shall inform the Clerk in writing within 7 days thereafter, giving details of the alleged inaccuracies. If the Headmaster believes that the Panel has not accurately summarised his views in relation to the parent's complaint, he shall likewise inform the Clerk in writing within 7 days thereafter, giving details of the alleged inaccuracies. The Panel shall then finalise its report.
3.24 The Panel's report will be sent to parent, the Headmaster, the Governors and where relevant, the person complained of.
3.25 In the case of a Category A Panel, the Panel's report shall state its decision in respect of the parent's complaint. The decision of a Category A Panel in respect of the parent's complaint will be final and binding.
3.26 In the case of a Category B Panel, the Panel's report will set out its recommendations to the Governors in respect of the parent's complaint. The Clerk will send a copy of the Panel's report to all the Governors and request that each Governor shall indicate whether he/she accepts or rejects the Panel's recommendations. The recommendations shall be deemed to be accepted if they are approved in writing (including email) by a majority in number of the Governors within a period of 28 days. Such approval (if forthcoming) shall constitute a final and binding decision of the Board of Governors. If the Panel's recommendations are not so accepted by the Governors within 28 days after the date on which the Clerk sent the report to the Governors, the Chairman shall then convene a special meeting of the Governors to consider and make a final decision in respect of the parent's complaint.
3.27 The School should maintain a record of all parent complaints for at least three years for regular review by a senior member of staff. The record shall indicate whether a complaint was resolved at the preliminary stage or proceeded to a panel hearing.
3.28 Subject to the rules set out in this document, the Panel may regulate their proceedings as they see fit.