You must complain to your school directly before complaining to any other organisation.
Complain to the school first
Every state and private school in England has a complaints procedure. Talk to your child’s school and try to resolve the problem with them first.
You can take your complaint further once you’ve been through all the steps in the complaints procedure and you’re still not satisfied.
Who you need to contact next depends on the type of complaint and school.
Complain about a state school
State schools include:
- maintained schools
- academies and free schools
Complain about a maintained school
You can complain to the Department for Education (DfE) by filling in the school complaints form.
Complain about an academy or free school
You can complain to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) if:
- there’s a problem with the school’s complaints procedure
- the school is not following the terms of its funding agreement
EFA can’t deal with all types of complaint and you may need to contact a different agency.
|Complaint||Who to contact|
|Data protection||Information Commissioner’s Office|
|Discrimination||Equality Advisory and Support Service|
|Employment||an employment tribunal|
|Exam malpractice or maladministration||Ofqual and the awarding body|
You can complain to Ofsted about any state school if there is a problem that affects the whole school. This includes problems with the quality of education or poor management.
You should get a response within 20 working days. The response will tell you if Ofsted will investigate or not, and why.
Complain about special educational needs (SEN)
Talk to your child’s school if you’re concerned about a problem relating to SEN. You can ask for an SEN assessment from your local council if the school can’t provide all the help your child needs.
You can appeal to the SEN and disability tribunal if you’ve applied for an assessment from your local council and you’re not happy with their response.
You can get free advice and information about local SEN services from the Parent Partnership Service in your area.
There are special provisions for complaining about an exclusion.
Complain about a private school
You must complain through your school’s complaints procedure first.
DfE can’t investigate individual complaints about private schools. But it has certain powers as a regulator, if the school is not meeting standards set by DfE for:
- pupil welfare and health and safety
- school premises
- staff suitability
- making information available to parents
DfE will consider any reports of a major failure to meet the standards. It can arrange an emergency inspection to make sure that pupil welfare and health and safety are safeguarded and that serious failings are dealt with.
For minor complaints, DfE can ask the school inspectorates to take these into account when the school is next inspected.
You can get free legal advice about schooling and education from Coram Children’s Legal Centre.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Telephone: 08088 020 008
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Find out about call charges