Skip to content ↓


School Complaints Procedures - Updated Guidance March 2019

Published on 28/01/19

On the 28th March 2019, the Department for Education updated their Best Practice Guidance for School Complaints Procedures.

Under section 29(2) of the Education Act 2002, governing bodies of maintained schools must ‘have regard to any guidance given from time to time (in relation to England) by the Secretary of State’ when establishing and publishing complaints procedures relating to their school and any facilities or services the school provides.

Department for Education - 2019


Each maintained school or nursery must have a policy in place for complaints procedures and how they are handled. The definition of a complaint is 'an expression or statement of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action.' 

Sometimes issues raised can be resolved informally without the need to follow a formal procedure process, however sometimes this will not be possible, or the person complaining would like to raise their grievance formally. In these instances, you will need to follow your complaints procedure. 

A Brief Overview of the Procedure

Your complaints procedure must:

  • Be simple to understand
  • Be simple to use
  • Be impartial and non-adversarial
  • Enable a full and fair investigation
  • Respect confidentiality (where necessary)
  • Address all of the points which have been flagged as at issue
  • Provide an effective response, and appropriate redress, where necessary
  • Provide information to the senior management team so that services can be improved

The DfE recommend that you: 

  • Ask the complainant, at the earliest possible opportunity, what they think might resolve the issue
  • Advise the complainant of any escalation options at each stage of the procedure when responding
  • Wherever possible, state what you will do as opposed to what you 'should' or 'may' do. They advise avoiding ambiguous language at all points, as this may be grounds for a further complaint. 

Publishing Your Complaints Procedure On Your School Website

Under Section 29(1)(b) of the Education Act 2002, your complaints procedures must be publicised, and following on from changes to the School Information (England) Regulations 2008, maintained schools have had to publish this information on their school website since the 1st September 2016. 

This guidance does not apply to community or foundation special schools that are established in hospitals or maintained nursery schools. 

If you are a federation school, then the federation's governing body is responsible for creating the complaints procedure. The federation's governing body must also ensure that each school in the federation publishes this procedure on their own school website. It's not sufficient for this to be published only on the federation website, unless member schools do not have their own website. 

Full Guidance Information

To ensure your complaints procedure is fully compliant with government recommendations and meets all of their best practice procedures, please make sure you visit the Department for Education website and review their documentation in full. The duty to establish procedures for dealing with complaints lies with your schools governing body.

Once you have reviewed your policy and made any recommended changes, make sure you upload your updated documentation to your school website.

If you need any assistance on uploading your updated complaints procedure to your school website - please don't hesitate to contact our Support Team on 03453 191 039 - option 1 or

Katie Sixsmith

Katie is our Marketing & Communications Executive and joined e4education in November 2015. She has a 2.1 BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature from the Open University and is currently studying for her Diploma in Professional Digital Marketing with the Oxford College of Marketing. 

If you would like to write a guest blog post or have any ideas for resources, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.