Complaints procedure

How we resolve your complaints and our standards for dealing with customer queries and problems.

If a letter or email you receive from us takes too long to arrive, isn’t clear, or uses an inappropriate tone of voice, we want to know. Similarly, if our reply to your telephone enquiry is not polite and professional, we want to know.

The procedure explained here is not for complaints about particular government policies or about schools. If you have a complaint about a policy, you can contact the minister for that policy, or alternatively contact your local MP.

You will find guidance on how to make a complaint about a school on the Department for Education website.

How to make a complaint

Please provide us with as much detail as you can to help us investigate your complaint:

  • say what the problem is
  • say what you want to happen
  • provide information on any relevant communication with us on the subject, including, for example, any reference numbers on letters or emails, and the times and dates of any conversations
  • address your complaint to the person responsible if you have their name

Please don’t send copies of the same letter or email to multiple ministers and officials.

Complaint enquiries

Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Department for Education
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street

Manchester
M1 2WD

How we treat your complaints

When we receive a complaint, it is immediately referred to an appropriate staff member who will then carry out an investigation.

We will reply in writing, or by telephone, within 15 working days from when we receive your complaint. If it is not possible for us to fully respond to you within this time, we will let you know and tell you what is being done to deal with your complaint, when you can expect the full reply and from whom.

We will always acknowledge where things could have been done better and tell you what will be done to avoid the same thing happening again. Equally, if we don’t agree with your complaint, we will let you know why.

Questions we can’t help with

We can’t usually get involved in disputes with other institutions like schools. We will only become involved if their own complaints procedures haven’t worked.

What to do if you aren’t satisfied

The full reply to your complaint will include details of who to contact next if you think it hasn’t been dealt with properly. This will normally be an appropriate senior departmental official.

That is the final stage of review for any complaint within the department but, if you are still unhappy, you can refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman through your local MP. You can find further details on the Ombudsman website .

Our customer service standards

Our Ministerial and Public Communications Division deals with most of the department’s letters, emails, telephone enquiries and consultations.

We aim to:

  • respond to your letters and emails (including complaints) within 15 working days, or 20 days for Freedom of Information requests (in line with government standards)
  • answer at least 80% of calls within 30 seconds between 9am and 5pm on working weekdays
  • give you a response from the person best placed to answer your questions or provide the advice you need
  • be as polite, clear and helpful as possible
  • encourage you to give us feedback on our service so we can improve it

However we cannot respond to complainants who use obscenities, racist or homophobic language, or who are personally offensive about members of our staff.

Monitoring our performance

The Ministerial and Public Communications Division handles around 70% of the department’s official letters and emails (not including ministerial correspondence).

From April 2012 to March 2013, we answered 97% of letters and emails within our target of 15 working days.

Our customer satisfaction surveys (April 2012 to March 2013) revealed that 70% of customers are satisfied with the correspondence service we provide, an increase of 6% on previous findings. A total of 97% of customers are satisfied with our telephone service (feedback from April 2012 to March 2013).

Concerns about financial irregularity or impropriety

We take all concerns relating to organisations funded by the Department for Education seriously. We will open an investigation in cases where concerns have been raised in good faith and there is sufficient evidence to support them.

Should we decide to open an investigation following a complaint, the department cannot guarantee that the identity of individuals will remain unknown. Individuals considering a formal disclosure to the department may therefore wish to seek their own independent advice before going ahead with their complaint.

Individuals wishing to raise concerns relating to financial irregularity in organisations funded by us should write to the Department for Education’s Internal Audit Investigation Team with full details.

Internal Audit Investigation Team

Department for Education
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street

Manchester
M1 2WD

You can find useful information about whistleblowing and the Public Interest Disclosure Act in the ‘employing people’ section.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.