Date accepted by Governors: Spring 2021 Review Date: Spring 2024
This complaints procedure is not limited to parents or carers of children that are registered at the school. Any person, including members of the public, may make a complaint to Ash Grange School about any provision of facilities or services that we provide. Unless complaints are dealt with under separate statutory procedures (such as appeals relating to exclusions or admissions), we will use this complaints procedure.
A concern may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’. A complaint may be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.
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 complaint’s procedure. Ash Grange takes concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.
If you have difficulty discussing a concern with a particular member of staff, we will respect your views. In these cases, you will be referred to an appropriate alternative staff member. Similarly, if the member of staff directly involved feels unable to deal with a concern, you will be referred to another staff member. The member of staff may be more senior but does not have to be. The ability to consider the concern objectively and impartially is more important.
We understand however, that there are occasions when people would like to raise their concerns formally. In this case, Ash Grange will attempt to resolve the issue internally, through the stages outlined within this complaint’s procedure.
A concern can be raised in person, in writing or by telephone. They may also be made by a third party acting on behalf of the person with the concern if they have appropriate consent to do so. Concerns should be raised with either the class teacher or headteacher.
If the issue remains unresolved, the next step is to make a formal complaint, using the Complaint form (Appendix B). If you require assistance with completing the form, please contact the school office.
Complainants should not approach individual governors to raise concerns or complaints. They have no power to act on an individual basis and it may also prevent them from considering complaints at a later stage of the procedure.
A template complaint form is included at the end of this procedure, for use at any stage of the procedure as required. If you require help in completing the form, please contact the school office. You can also ask a third-party organisation such as the Citizens Advice to help you.
In accordance with equality law, we will consider making reasonable adjustments if required, to enable complainants to access and complete this complaints procedure. For instance, providing information in alternative formats, assisting complainants in raising a formal complaint or holding meetings in accessible locations.
You must raise the complaint within three months of the incident or, where a series of associated incidents have occurred, within three months of the last of these incidents. We will consider complaints made outside of this time frame only if exceptional circumstances apply.
We will consider complaints made outside of term time to have been received on the first school day after the holiday period.
Complainants should make sure they obtain informed consent from all parties present before recording conversations or meetings. In line with DfE guidance, we do not normally accept electronic recordings as evidence when we are asked to consider a complaint. Unless exceptional circumstances apply, we will not accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without informed consent of all parties being recorded.
There may be occasions when it is necessary or reasonable to deviate from the published complaints procedure. In these cases, the complainant will be kept informed and reasons for the deviation given.
This procedure covers all complaints about any provision of community facilities or services by Ash Grange, other than complaints that are dealt with under other statutory procedures, including those listed below.
Who to contact
Concerns about admissions, statutory assessments of Special Educational Needs, or school re-organisation proposals should be raised with the relevant local authority
Complaints about child protection matters are handled under our child protection and safeguarding policy and in accordance with relevant statutory guidance.
If you have serious concerns, you may wish to contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) who has local responsibility for safeguarding or the Surrey Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) on 0300 470 9100.
Further information about raising concerns about exclusion can be found at: www.gov.uk/school-discipline-exclusions/exclusions. *complaints about the application of the behaviour policy can be made through the school’s complaints procedure. https://www.ash-grange.surrey.sch.uk/policies-1/
We have an internal whistleblowing procedure for all our employees, including temporary staff and contractors.
The Secretary of State for Education is the prescribed person for matters relating to education for whistle-blowers in education who do not want to raise matters direct with their employer. Referrals can be made at: www.education.gov.uk/contactus.
Volunteer staff who have concerns about our school should complain through the school’s complaints procedure. You may also be able to complain direct to the LA or the Department for Education (see link above), depending on the substance of your complaint.
Complaints from staff will be dealt with under the school’s internal grievance procedures.
Complaints about staff will be dealt with under the school’s internal disciplinary procedures, if appropriate.
Complainants will not be informed of any disciplinary action taken against a staff member as a result of a complaint. However, the complainant will be notified that the matter is being addressed.
Providers should have their own complaints procedure to deal with complaints about service. Please contact them direct.
Please contact the Department for Education at:
If other bodies are investigating aspects of the complaint, for example the police, local authority (LA) safeguarding teams or Tribunals, this may impact on our ability to adhere to the timescales within this procedure or result in the procedure being suspended until those public bodies have completed their investigations. If this happens, we will inform you of a proposed new timescale.
If a complainant commences legal action against Ash Grange in relation to their complaint, we will consider whether to suspend the complaints procedure until those legal proceedings have concluded.
At each stage in the procedure, Ash Grange wants to resolve the complaint. If appropriate, we will acknowledge that the complaint is upheld in whole or in part. In addition, we may offer one or more of the following:
In addition, mediation can provide a helpful mechanism for discussion when a complaint is raised and can help to rebuild the relationship between parties once all the investigative stages of the complaints procedure have been complete.
If a complainant wants to withdraw their complaint, we will ask them to confirm this in writing.
It is to be hoped that most concerns can be expressed and resolved on an informal basis, within 10 school working days.
Concerns should be raised with either the class teacher, year head/subject head or Headteacher. Complainants should not approach individual governors to raise concerns or complaints. They have no power to act on an individual basis and it may also prevent them from considering complaints at a later stage of the procedure.
If the issue remains unresolved, the next step is to make a formal complaint.
Stage 1 Headteacher Investigation
Stage 2 Governor Investigation
Stage 3 Governor Panel Hearing
Formal complaints must be made to the Headteacher (unless they are about the Headteacher), using the Complaint form (see Appendix A for the contact details of the Headteacher, and Appendix B for a copy of the form). The form is useful as it ensures that relevant information is communicated at the outset. The Headteacher will record the date the complaint is received and will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 3 school days.
Within this response, the Headteacher will seek to clarify the nature of the complaint, ask what remains unresolved and what outcome the complainant would like to see. The Headteacher can consider whether a face to face meeting is the most appropriate way of doing this.
Note: The Headteacher may delegate the investigation to another member of the school’s senior leadership team but not the decision to be taken.
During the investigation, the Headteacher (or investigator) will:
At the conclusion of their investigation, the Headteacher will provide a formal written response within 15 school days of the date of receipt of the complaint. If the Headteacher is unable to meet this deadline, they will provide the complainant with an update and revised response date.
The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions Ash Grange will take to resolve the complaint. The Headteacher will advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint if they believe it has not been fully addressed at this stage.
If the complaint is about the Headteacher, or a member of the governing body (including the Chair or Vice-Chair), a suitably skilled governor will be appointed to complete all the actions at Stage 2.
Complaints about the Headteacher or member of the governing body must be made to the Clerk, via the school office.
If the complaint is:
The complaint will move to Stage 2 and will be considered by an independent investigator appointed by the governing body or at the conclusion of their investigation, the independent investigator will provide a formal written response to the complainant with a copy to the Headteacher.
If the complainant believes that their complaint has not been fully addressed at Stage 1, they may request a Governor investigation. This should be done in writing (preferably on the Complaint Form (see Appendix A for the contact details of the Chair of Governors, and Appendix B for a copy of the form).
The Chair of Governors may choose to delegate the investigation of the complaint to a Nominated Governor who may, at the sole discretion of the Chair of Governors, be independent of the school. The investigating governor will have had no prior involvement in the complaint.
Receipt of the complaint form will be acknowledged. In most cases the complainant will be invited to meet with the Chair of Governors/ Nominated Governor at the outset of the process. The aim of this meeting is to enable the Chair of Governors/ Nominated Governor to understand the scope of the complaint and desired outcomes prior to commencing their investigation.
The Chair of Governors/Nominated Governor will consider all relevant evidence; this may include but is not limited to:
After considering the available evidence, the Chair of Governors/Nominated Governor may:
The Chair of Governors/Nominated Governor should inform the complainant of their decision in writing within 15 school days of receipt of the complaint. They should explain clearly why they have come to the decision that they made. They should detail any agreed actions as a result of the complaint. Finally, they should provide the complainant with details of how to progress the complaint to Stage 3 if they believe that their complaint has not been fully addressed, providing them with the contact details of the Clerk to the Governing Body (Appendix A). Should the complaint not be resolved mediation should be considered. This can be arranged through the Area Schools Support Service and will be impartial and objective.
If the complainant does not believe that their complaint has been fully addressed at Stage 2 and wishes to take the matter further, they can escalate the complaint to Stage 3. This consists of a Panel hearing with at least three governors who were not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint or in any previous investigation, with consideration being given to one of whom being an independent governor. Complainants can request an independent complaints committee if they believe there is likely to be bias in the proceedings. They should provide evidence of bias in support of their request, as it is the panel’s decision whether to agree to it. If the appearance of bias is sufficient to taint the decision reached, then it is recommended that the panel grants such requests.
This is the final stage of the school’s complaints procedure.
A request to escalate to Stage 3 must be made to the Clerk, via the school office, within 10 school days of receipt of the Stage 2 response. Requests received outside of this time frame will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply and are explained to the Clerk while the request for a Stage 3 hearing is made.
The Clerk will record the date the complaint is received and acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 5 school days.
The Clerk will write to the complainant to inform them of the date of the meeting. They will aim to convene a meeting within 30 school days of receipt of the Stage 3 request. If this is not possible, the Clerk will provide an anticipated date and keep the complainant informed. If the complainant rejects the offer of three proposed dates, without good reason, the Clerk will decide when to hold the meeting. In this case the Panel will meet, with the Clerk and Area Schools Officer in attendance, and consider the complaint because of written submissions from both parties, with neither party being present.
At least 15 school days before the meeting, the Clerk will:
Any written material will be collated and circulated by the clerk to all parties so that it is received at least 5 school days before the date of the meeting. The Panel will not normally accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without the informed consent of all parties being recorded.
Attendees at the meeting
The Clerk will invite the following parties:
The complainant may ask to be accompanied to the meeting by a supportive companion, interpreter, or advocate. It is not advisable for this person to be a member of the school community, for reasons of confidentiality and to avoid conflict of interest. The complainant must advise the Clerk to the Complaint Review Panel of the name and role of this additional person prior to the hearing, and the Clerk will seek agreement from the chair of the Panel. If the additional person is attending as an advocate, they will be presenting the complainant’s case and speaking on their behalf, and therefore the complainant will not be able to address the Panel directly. If the additional person is attending as a supportive companion, they will not be able to address the Panel directly.
As this is not a legal process, neither party may bring legal representation with them except in exceptional circumstances, by prior agreement of the Panel.
If the attendance of any pupils is required at the hearing, parental permission will be sought if the pupil is under the age of 18. Extra care will be taken to consider the vulnerability of children where they are present at a complaint hearing. The Panel should respect the views of the child/young person and give them equal consideration to those of adults. If the child/young person is the complainant, the Panel should ask in advance if any support is needed to help them present their complaint. Where the child/young person’s parent is the complainant, the Panel should give the parent the opportunity to say which parts of the meeting, if any, the child/young person needs to attend. However, the parent should be advised that agreement might not always be possible if the parent wishes the child/young person to attend a part of the meeting that the Panel considers is not in the child/young person’s best interests. The welfare of the child/young person is paramount.
Representatives from the media are not permitted to attend.
Conduct of the meeting
The aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the school and the complainant. We recognise that the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the meeting does not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations. Financial compensation is not a possible outcome of the process.
The panel hearing will consider the complaint as was submitted at stage 1 and 2. Any new issues will need to be dealt with by a separate complaint procedure.
The Panel will not only consider the handling of the complaint at the previous stages but will also consider those aspects of the original complaint which the complainant believes have not been fully addressed.
The meeting will be held in private and is confidential. Electronic recordings of meetings or conversations are not normally permitted unless a complainant’s own disability or additional needs require it. Prior knowledge and consent of all parties attending must be sought before meetings or conversations are recorded. Consent will be recorded in any minutes taken.
The format of the meeting is that the complainant is given a set amount of time to make their case. The Panel and the school may then ask the complainant questions for clarification. The school then has the same amount of time to make their case. The Panel and complainant then have the opportunity to seek clarification from the school. Both parties then leave the meeting, and the Panel will deliberate.
The Panel will consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and will come to their decisions on the balance of probabilities. The Panel can:
If the complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the Panel will:
The Chair of the Panel will provide the complainant and Ash Grange with a full explanation of their decision and the reason(s) for it, in writing, and a copy of the minutes of the Panel hearing, within 10 school days.
The letter to the complainant will include details of how to contact the Department for Education if they believe that their complaint has been handled unreasonably or unlawfully by Ash Grange.
The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions Ash Grange will take to resolve the complaint.
The Panel will ensure that those findings and recommendations are sent by post, electronic mail or otherwise given to the complainant and, where relevant, the person complained about, with a copy to the Headteacher.
The complaint investigator/the Chair of the Complaint Review Panel will ensure that a copy of all relevant information relating to the complaint is kept at the school in a secure, confidential* file, separate from staff and pupil records. This information should be retained for six years from the date of the complaint, in line with guidance from the Information and Records Management Society (www.irms.org.uk) and in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The complainant should be informed that this will be done.
* Please note that the Secretary of State or a body conducting an inspection under s 109 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 may request access to complaints documentation.
If the complaint is:
Stage 3 will be heard by a committee of governors who are independent of the school.
If the complainant believes the school did not handle their complaint in accordance with the published complaints procedure or they acted unlawfully or unreasonably in the exercise of their duties under education law, they can contact the Department for Education after they have completed Stage 3.
The Department for Education will not normally reinvestigate the substance of complaints or overturn any decisions made by Ash Grange. They will consider whether Ash Grange has adhered to education legislation and any statutory policies connected with the complaint.
The complainant can refer their complaint to the Department for Education online at:
www.education.gov.uk/contactus, by telephone on 0370 000 2288 or by writing to:
Department for Education
The complainant will receive a more effective response to the complaint if they:
The investigator’s role is to provide a comprehensive, open, transparent, and fair consideration of the complaint through:
Clerk to the Stage 3 Panel Hearing
The Clerk is the contact point for the complainant and the Panel and should:
The Panel’s chair, who is nominated in advance of the complaint meeting, will ensure that the meeting is conducted in line with the complaints procedure and best practice principles.
Panel members should be aware that:
Ash Grange is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. We will not normally limit the contact complainants have with our school. However, we do not expect our staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and will take action to protect staff from that behaviour, including that which is abusive, offensive, or threatening.
Ash Grange defines unreasonable behaviour as that which hinders our consideration of complaints because of the frequency or nature of the complainant’s contact with the school, such as, if the complainant:
Complainants should try to limit their communication with the school that relates to their complaint, while the complaint is being progressed. It is not helpful if repeated correspondence is sent (either by letter, phone, email or text), as it could delay the outcome being reached.
Whenever possible, the Headteacher or Chair of Governors will discuss any concerns with the complainant informally before determining that they may be acting “unreasonably”.
If the behaviour continues, the Headteacher will write to the complainant explaining that their behaviour is unreasonable and ask them to change it. For complainants who excessively contact <School Name> causing a significant level of disruption, we may specify methods of communication and limit the number of contacts in a communication plan. This will be reviewed after six months.
In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, we will immediately inform the police and communicate our actions in writing. This may include barring an individual from Ash Grange.
In the rare event that the school receives a large volume of complaints all based on the same subject, from complainants unconnected with the school, we will either send a template response to all complainants or publish a single response on the school’s website.
The role of the Area Schools Support Service is to provide impartial advice and guidance to school staff, governors, and complainants at all stages of the complaints process.*
North East Surrey
(Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell, Spelthorne)
Area Schools Officer
Telephone: 01372 833412
Area Schools Assistant
Telephone: 01372 833412
Esher Civic Centre, High Street,
Esher, Surrey KT10 9SD
North West Surrey
(Runnymede, Surrey Heath, Woking)
Area Schools Officer
Telephone: 01483 518104
Area Schools Assistant
Telephone: 01483 518106
Quadrant Court, Guildford Rd,
Woking, Surrey GU22 7QQ
South East Surrey
(Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Tandridge)
Area Schools Officer
Telephone: 01737 737960
Area Schools Assistant
Telephone: 01737 737961
Consort House, 5-7 Queensway,
Redhill, Surrey RH1 1YB
South West Surrey
(Guildford and Waverley)
Jane van den Broeke
Area Schools Officer
Telephone: 01483 517835
Area Schools Assistant
Telephone: 01483 517835
Quadrant Court, Guildford Rd,
Woking, Surrey GU22 7QQ
Ash Grange Nursery & Primary School
Ash Church Road
Telephone 01252 328589
Email Office @ ash-grange.surrey.sch.uk
Headteacher Mrs Marie Curtis
Chair of Governors Mrs Vicky Hallewell
Clerk to the Governing Body Mrs Orla Engleman
Please complete and return to Mrs Curtis for Stage 1, or Clerk for Stages 2 and 3) who will acknowledge receipt and explain what action will be taken.
Pupil’s name (if relevant):
Your relationship to the pupil (if relevant):
Please give details of your complaint (adding extra pages if necessary):
Details of issue
What action has been taken to resolve the matter and by whom?
What actions do you feel might resolve the problem at this stage?
Are you attaching any paperwork? If so, please give details.
Date acknowledgement sent and by whom:
Complaint referred to: