Complaints procedure

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) formed on 1 April 2017 and brings together the work of Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

We are working to streamline our complaints procedures as a new agency.

Our complaints process covers:

  • the service you have received from ESFA or our predecessor agencies (EFA and SFA)
  • a post-16 training provider, college or employer we fund
  • an academy or free school
  • an independent admissions appeal panel

Complain about ESFA’s service

If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received from ESFA or our predecessor agencies, you can submit a complaint.

ESFA operates a two stage service complaint process:

  • Formal Stage 1
  • Formal stage 2

When complainants receive a response at each stage they are advised what options remain open to them should them remain dissatisfied.

Once ESFA’s two stage process is complete, complainants who remain dissatisfied are advised they have the option to approach the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) via their MP.

Complaints about the service provided by the ESFA should be sent to complaints.ESFA@education.gov.uk.

Complain about a post-16 training provider, college or employer we fund

Before making a complaint to ESFA about any post-16 training provider, college or employer we fund you should have exhausted the provider’s own complaints procedure, including any appeals process.

If you have already done that and are complaining about:

  • a general further education (FE) college, employer, a sixth form college (that is not an academy) or a training provider
  • a commercial and charitable provider where the complaint relates to provision for students aged 16 to 18 and up to 25 if the learner is subject to a learning disability assessment
  • a commercial and charitable training provider where the complaint relates to provision for post-19 students

Please read our complaints about post-16 education and training provision funded by ESFA guidance for more information.

If you are complaining about post-16 provision in an academy, please read our procedure for dealing with complaints about academies.

If you want to make a disclosure in the public interest, please read our guide to how ESFA handles whistleblowing disclosures. The guide covers arrangements to protect people who make disclosures and keep their personal details confidential.

Complain about an academy or free school

To complain to ESFA about an open academy or free school you must first have exhausted the institution’s own complaint procedure. If you’re satisfied you have done this, please refer to our guidance on complaints about academies.

If you want to make a disclosure in the public interest, please read our guide to how ESFA handles whistleblowing disclosures. The guide covers arrangements to protect people who make disclosures and keep their personal details confidential.

Complain about an academy independent appeals panel

You can complain to ESFA if you think the panel did not follow the procedures set out in the School Admission Appeals Code 2012 where it relates to a free school, an academy, a university technical college or studio schools. If your complaint relates to how an appeal has been carried out in relation to a maintained school you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Other complaints

For information on complaints about other schools, special educational needs, disability discrimination, childminders you should refer to the Department for Education.

Allegations of suspected fraud or financial irregularity

We have published guidance explaining how to make an allegation of fraud or financial irregularity within an ESFA-funded educational providers, including:

  • academy trusts and schools including free schools and university technical colleges (UTCs)
  • further education colleges
  • training organisations

We have also published a list of generic indicators to help education providers identify potential fraud.