Schools told to use complaints as a means to introduce improvements

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SCHOOLS are being urged to see parents’ complaints as a way of being able to improve rather than as a “badge of shame”.

Now, a Government report has called for a culture change in the way formal complaints are handled by schools.

The study warns that about a fifth of the schools assessed did not regularly record informal or minor complaints.

It also claims there is some evidence that a minority of schools are ignoring their statutory duties to set up and publicise complaints procedures.

The study, published by the Department for Education (DfE), reviewed complaints affecting individual children made by parents and young people to state schools in England. It concludes that drawing on “the snapshot data” about 13,000 formal school complaints involving individual children are made each academic year in English state schools.

The research analysed correspondence sent to the Education Secretary as well as interviews and surveys of schools and parents.

The findings show about half the schools – 51 per cent – that were surveyed systematically recorded all complaints, both formal and informal.

A further 27 per cent recorded most.

However just under a fifth – 19 per cent did not record informal or minor complaints.

The report said: “The research evidence suggests that there is room for improvement at a school level with regard to the implementation of formal complaints handling.

“There is tentative evidence from the survey that a minority of schools are neglecting their statutory duties under Education Act 2002 to establish and publicise a complaints procedure.

“The research interviews pointed towards the need for a culture change in schools; moving away from seeing complaints as a ‘badge of shame’ and to recognise that complaints data can be a powerful tool for performance management, where gathered and used effectively.”

Researchers also examined the types of complaints made to schools, and found that the issues most commonly reported involved bullying, special educational needs, teacher conduct and exclusions.