Resolving complaints made by parents against teachers

Insight – Primary School

What was the issue addressed?
There was a complaint from a parent against the teacher of her primary age children. She sent a letter to the education department, headteacher and Chair of governors. The mother was very irate in her letter threatening all sorts of ways of taking further action.

What happened?
As we had received a letter, our governing body, through the Chair, took action to deal with the issue separately. The parent in question came into school to have a meeting; there was some tension from her and we went through the letter and listened. The letter had been addressed to the Chair, so at the meeting there was just the Chair, another governor and the secretary. We did not want the parent to feel overwhelmed. We then made a list of things we would do and arranged another meeting where we provide answers in a week’s time. We had the next meeting, gave her our answers. The complainant was happy with the outcome.

What lessons were learnt?
Being patient and listening. We had spoken to teacher involved and the teaching assistant prior to the meeting to allow us to hear their side. The teacher had also had a letter. We made sure we gathered information from all sides before meeting the complainant to seek to resolve the issue.

Schools should deal with complaints swiftly and sensitively. Complainants need to know that their concerns are being taken seriously and that they are being listened to, which was the case here. Usually, the Chair and members of the governing body get involved in school-based complaints when there are concerns raised about the headteacher, or the complainant was not satisfied at the earlier stages in the complaints procedure. (There are 3 stages, with Stage 3 being heard by a committee of governors).

What isn’t clear in this situation, is at what stage the complaint was at, for the Chair and another governor to deal with the issue.

Whilst the complainant was happy with the outcome of their concern, which was relayed during a meeting. There should always be a response provided in writing to conclude the process, as a letter of complaint was initially received.

Further Information about school complaints can be found in this useful guidance.

How has your governing body addressed complaints by parents against teachers in your school?
Do you have a policy and procedures in place to seek to resolve complaints by parents against the school?

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