School complaints procedures: guidance for maintained schools

How local authority-maintained schools and maintained nurseries can set up or review their complaints procedures.

Applies to England



This guidance is for:

  • local authority-maintained schools
  • community, foundation or voluntary schools
  • community or foundation special schools
  • nursery schools which are maintained by a local authority and are not special schools

There’s separate guidance for parents and the wider community at How to complain about a school.

Do not follow this guidance if you are:

DfE acknowledges the contribution of members of the Advisory Group on Governance, ACE Education and also Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex and Dorset local authorities in the production of these documents. Some of the content is reproduced, by kind permission, from their model complaints procedures.

Published 6 January 2016
Last updated 15 January 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated 'Handling complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' section in 'Best practice guidance for school complaints procedures 2020'.

  2. Updated 'Handling complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak' section.

  3. Added links to separate guidance covering complaints procedures for academies and independent schools.

  4. Added information to the best practice guidance about handling complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

  5. Added new information on the use of independent governors and duplicate complaints.

  6. Replaced best practice advice with an updated version for 2019.

  7. First published.