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Nottinghamshire County Council - Proud of our past, ambitious for our future

Complaints about Schools

Complaints about schools

How to Make a Complaint

Most parents have a positive relationship with schools but sometimes things may go wrong.

In Nottinghamshire, all complaints are taken seriously and schools are expected to have procedures in place for dealing with them.

You can ask the school for a copy of their complaints procedure so that you know exactly how they will handle such matters. School governors have a responsibility under the Schools and Standards Framework Act 1998 to deal with all complaints about the school.

Find contact details for Nottinghamshire schools.

Complaints Process

Do I have a complaint?

Think about the nature of your concerns. If there has been a specific incident, gather the facts and try to separate what may have happened from what actually occurred. It may be helpful to write down the details. In particular be clear about:

  • What it is you are concerned about
  • When and where the incident(s) occurred
  • Who else was involved
  • Whether anyone saw it happen
  • Who you have spoken to already, and
  • What you want to happen as a result of raisingyour concerns

It is important that you bring your concerns to the attention of the school as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the school’s response you may wish to make a complaint.

Where do I begin?

Whether you are a parent, or a member of the public, the place to start is at the school. It is much better if matters can be sorted out early and within school. In any dispute or misunderstanding it is important that all the facts are known so that the best solution can be found.

Contact the school and ask who is the best person to deal with your complaint. Then make an appointment to meet them. In a primary phase school this may be your child’s class teacher or the head teacher. In a secondary school you may be advised to contact the form tutor or head of year. 

What if my complaint is about the head teacher?

If the complaint is about the head teacher you should contact the chair of governors. The school will be able to give you the name of the chair of governors and tell you the best way of making contact. The chair or nominated complaints governor will then inform you how your concerns will be investigated and respond directly to you.

What if my complaint is about the governing body or an individual governor?

If the complaint is about a governor, contact the chair of governors first. If the complaint is about the chair of governors the nominated complaints governor will let you know how your concerns will be dealt with. The school will be able to give you the name of the chair of governors or the nominated complaints governor and how to contact them. If you have a complaint about the governing body as a whole, contact the local authority’s Head of Governor Services (contact details at the end of this leaflet.)

What can I expect to happen?

You should be listened to so that the nature of your complaint is understood.

You should be told by the school about the stages in its complaints procedure.

Complaints need to be investigated thoroughly and the head teacher or governors will need sufficient time to do this. You should be told how long the investigation is likely to take.

If the school agrees that your complaint is justified, they should tell you what action will be taken.

If the school does not support your complaint, they should tell you the reasons for this in writing. If you are not satisfied following the investigation by the Head teacher, the school’s complaints procedure may require the complaints governor to investigate and report back to you. It may have the matter considered by a panel of governors – a complaints panel. In some cases the procedure may allow for both stages, with the complaints panel providing an appeal stage.

In cases where disciplinary action may be taken against a member of staff, this is a decision for the governing body, and they will tell you  that that is how your concerns will be dealt with.

How long will it take?

Complaints should be handled quickly and most issues should be resolved in a few days. The school should indicate at the outset how long most investigations will take, preferably within 20 school days, but a formal complaint requiring detailed investigation may take some time to complete.

What if my complaint is about a voluntary aided or foundation school?

Your complaint should be handled in the same way. However, if the governing body of an aided school is not able to resolve your complaint to your satisfaction it may be appropriate to refer it to the diocesan (church) board for education. You can get the address for the diocesan board from the school.

Who can help?

If you are worried about making a complaint you may want to involve a friend, representative or interpreter to support you. There are agencies that may be able to offer specific support.

  • The Advisory Centre for Education (ACE)
  • Parent Partnership Service. If your child has special educational needs, you may find it helpful to contact the following numbers:
    • Nottingham - tel: 0115 948 2888
    • Hucknall – tel: 0115 840 0081
  • The Head of Governor Services can be contacted on tel: 07843 502867.


If you remain dissatisfied when this procedure has been followed, you can refer your complaint to the Secretary of State at:

Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street

If you have a complaint regarding admission matters, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman at:

The Local Government Ombudsman
PO Box 4771

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