The action taken by the school, as a result of a formal complaint, will be recorded regardless of whether it is upheld.
Cottesmore School prides 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.
Please note that any complaint received within one month of the end of term or half term is likely to take longer to resolve owing to school holidays and the unavailability of personnel. If any complaint is received outside of term-time, it may not be practical for the School to adhere to the timescales stated below. Reference to 'school days' means week days during the school term.
All full-time staff are in school from 8.00 until 6.00pm, Monday to Saturday.
The Headmaster is available from 7.30am until 10pm.
Staff and parents can also make an appointment with the Headmaster through the administration team.
Staff are encouraged to resolve issues immediately or offer to refer the matter to the Headmaster. Staff must log all complaints received, verbal or written.
The Head is the member of staff with responsibility for the operation and management of the school complaints procedures and should be informed of any initial discussion that takes place with parents.
All formal complaints will be recorded so as to state the name of the complainant, the date received, the date resolved and the actions taken.
Stage 1 - Informal Resolution
It is hoped that most complaints and concerns will be resolved quickly and informally. If parents have a complaint they should normally contact the person most closely concerned with the issue; this could be the Head of the department involved, for example the Director of Sport. In many cases, the matter will be resolved straight away, by these means, to the parents' satisfaction. If the member of staff cannot resolve the matter alone, it may be necessary for him/her to consult the Head or a member of the School's Senior Management Team.
A written record will be made of all concerns and complaints and the date on which they were received. A resolution date will be logged. Should the matter not be resolved within 10 school days or in the event that the member of staff and the parent fail to reach a satisfactory resolution, then parents will be advised to proceed with their complaint in accordance with Stage 2 of this Procedure. If however, the complaint is against the Headmaster, parents should make their complaint directly to the Head of the Governance Advisors, Johny Armstrong, via the school office on [email protected] or 01293 520648.
Stage 2 - Formal Resolution
If the complaint cannot be resolved on an informal basis, then the parents should put their complaint in writing to the Head. If possible, use this Complaints Form.
The Head will decide, after considering the complaint, the appropriate course of action to take.
In most cases, the Head will speak to the parents concerned, normally within 5 school days of receiving the complaint, to discuss the matter. If possible, a resolution will be reached at this stage.
It may be necessary for the Head to carry out further investigations. The Head will keep written records of all meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint.
Once the Head, in liason with the Deputy Head, is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all of the relevant facts have been established, and within 15 working days from the receipt of the complaint, a decision will be made and parents will be informed of this decision in writing. The Head will also give reasons for his decision.
If the complaint is against the Headmaster, the Head of the Governance Advisors, Johny Armstrong needs to be contacted through the school office on [email protected] or 01293 520648. The Head of the Governance Advisors will call for a full report from the Head and for all the relevant documents. The Head of the Governance Advisors may also call for a briefing from members of staff, and will in most cases, speak to or meet with the parents to discuss the matter further. Once the Head of the Governance Advisors is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all of the relevant facts have been established, the parents will be informed in writing and the reasons for the decision given. The Head of the Governance Advisors may seek advice from the other Governance Advisors.
If parents are still not satisfied with the decision, they should proceed to Stage 3 of this Procedure.
Stage 3 - Panel Hearing
If parents seek to invoke Stage 3 (following a failure to reach an earlier resolution), they must do so within 1 month of the decision under Stage 2. They will be referred to the Proprietor, Cathryn Rogerson, at the School through the school office ([email protected] or 01293 520648) who will call hearings of the Complaints Panel.
The matter will then be referred to the Complaints Panel for consideration.
The Panel will consist of at least three persons not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint, one of whom shall be independent of the management and running of the School (please see Appendix 1).
Each of the Panel Members shall be appointed by the Proprietor. The Secretary to the Proprietor, on behalf of the Panel, will then acknowledge the complaint and schedule a hearing to take place within 14 working days in term time, or 28 days during the school holidays.
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 all parties not later than three days prior to the hearing.
The parents may be accompanied to the hearing by one other person. This may be a relative, teacher or friend. Legal representation will not normally be appropriate.
If possible, the Panel will resolve the parents' complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is required, the Panel will decide how it should be carried out. After due consideration of all facts they consider relevant, the Panel will reach a decision and may make recommendations, which it shall complete within 15 school days of the Hearing. A resolution date will be logged. The Panel will write to the parents informing them of its decision and the reasons for it. The decision of the Panel will be final. The Panel's findings and, if any, recommendations will be sent in writing to the parents, the Head, the Governing Advisors, the Proprietor and, where relevant, the person complained of. A copy of the findings and recommendations will be available for inspection by the Head and Governing Advisors at the School.
Parents can be assured that all concerns and complaints will be treated seriously and confidentially. Correspondence, statements and records will be kept confidential except where the Secretary of State, or a body conducting an inspection under section 108 of the 2008 Act, requests access to them. The School will keep a record of complaints in the Office for three years. In the academic year 2018-2019, we have received one formal complaint.
Contacting the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) or Ofsted
The School is inspected by ISI. Parents and pupils have the right to contact an inspector if they have a complaint concerning a pupil's welfare. ISI will usually expect parents or pupils to have followed the School's formal complaints procedure before contacting them. However, you can report your concerns, including those about EYFS, to ISI on 02076000100, Ofsted on 08456 404040, or you can write to the ISI Regional Office: Independent Schools Inspectorate, Ground Floor, CAP House, 9-12, Long Lane, London EC1A 9HA
We will keep a statement that the record of complaints is kept for at least three years. Please see paragraph 22 of this policy. We keep the details for contacting Ofsted [and ISI] and an explanation that parents can make a complaint to Ofsted [and/or ISI] should they so wish. Please see paragraph 22 of this policy - the paragraph above this.
There have been no formal complaints in the current academic year or in the year before. The Bursar keeps a written record of formal complaints and outcomes.
Will keep a record of EYFS complaints for three years.
A formal complaint will be investigated and resolved within 28 days. For contact details of the ISI and Ofsted, please see the paragraph above this one.
Complaints Procedure - Independent Member of the Panel
The following guidance comes from a letter sent by the DfES (as was) to the ISC General Secretary in 2002. Although dated, the advice is extant:
'Whilst we do not intend to be prescriptive our general view is that suitable people would be those who have held positions of responsibility and who are used to analysing evidence and putting forward balanced arguments/points. It would add credibility if independent panel members had some standing in the local community. In this connection serving or retired business people, civil servants, heads or senior members of staff at other schools, people with a legal background - perhaps retired members of the Police Force - might be considered suitable by schools. Schools will have their own views and may well have other suitable suggestions to make.
You asked if it would be acceptable to appoint former Governance Advisors or staff of the school as the independent panel member. The regulations do not preclude this since the stipulation is that the person must be independent of the management and running of the school. Clearly former Governance Advisors or staff would not have any such involvement. However, schools should bear in mind that they may be subject to criticism that such people would remain too close to the school and would not be truly independent.'
Reviewed TFR October 2020
To be reviewed again May 2021