Children’s social care, education and SEND complaints

This section is about how to make a complaint about the following services:

  • SEND provision and associated transport and 16+ team
  • Education Welfare
  • Inclusions
  • Virtual school
  • access to education
  • elective home education
  • early years
  • youth support
  • youth justice

How to make a complaint

If things do go wrong, Surrey Local Authority (LA) have a complaints procedure you can use to have them look into your complaint and put matters right as quickly as they can. It is important to make your complaint as soon as possible because they may not be able to consider your complaint if it is about something that happened over 12 months ago.

All complaints now go through the Customer Relations Team.  They would ideally like you to use the online complaint form so that one team is able to track and monitor all complaints coming into the LA:

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/contact-us/complaints-comments-and-compliments/children-and-education-send

(Form is at the bottom of the page above).

Please note that this online form times out after 40 minutes so you may wish to type your information onto a Word document so you can copy and paste it into the form before your time runs out. Your complaint is not registered until you have a SUR number.

Complaint process:

Stage 1 – Local resolution

Complaints are first responded to by the responsible service area that you are complaining about because Surrey want to resolve complaints quickly and as close to the point of service they can.

Their aim is to provide a full response within 10 working days. If they are due to take longer, they must let you know.  They will also tell you how to progress your complaint if you remain unhappy.

When you make a complaint it is worth recording when the 10 days are up and chase if there is no response. A reply should be received without ‘unnecessary delay’.

If you can’t use the online tool, you could: complain in person, over the telephone or in writing but the online form will ensure that nothing is missed or lost.

We advise that your stage 1 complaint is in writing where possible, e.g. in an email or letter, so you have proof it was sent.  We also advise you include “Stage 1 complaint” as a subject title.  If it’s in person ask for the LA to record your conversation in writing. 

Address: Customer Relations Team, 1st Floor, Quadrant Court, Guildford Road, Woking, GU22 7QQ

Text: 07806 846386

Email: be.heard@surreycc.gov.uk (However the online form is preferred).

What information do you need to provide?

For your complaint to be dealt with quicker it would be useful to provide as much information as possible whilst not waffling!  Include:

  • Where the incident or event took place
  • Relevant dates
  • Names of council staff involved
  • Any reference numbers you may have been given
  • The service you were expecting to receive and how that differed from the service you received

You can also explain briefly what you think Surrey should do to put the matter right or how they could have done things differently.  You can also write things down in chronological order (see table below).

You could use bulletin points to get your point across.

IMPORTANT: SUR ReferenceOnce you complete the online form a reference will be generated in the subject line – a “Complaint reference SUR number”.  It is important to include this with any further emails you send (by replying to the email).  This way all correspondence will be linked to your complaint. SUR highlights it is a Surrey issue.

At any point you have an issue you can email be.heard@surreycc.gov.uk but explain there has been an issue and what it was, e.g. you got an error message but always give your ‘SUR number’.

Stage 2 – Review

Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint:

1) those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and

2) those that are complex and require detailed investigation.  The purpose is to establish if there has been any fault by the council in delivering its services.

Your complaint will be passed to a Customer Relations Officer who should be independent of the service you are complaining about. They will review your complaint and explore your concerns in more detail.

This can lead to:

  1. a referral back to the service you are complaining about with a request to reconsider all or specific parts of your complaint a mediated meeting offered or
  2. in exceptional circumstances a full investigation

If Surrey decide to carry out a further investigation, they will aim to provide a response within 20 working days. If the investigator needs to confirm the details of your complaint with you it will be 20 working days from that point.  (There is no timescale for the investigator to ask you for more details). A reply should be received without ‘unnecessary delay’.

If, for any reason, the investigator is unable to keep to this timescale they should let you know and keep you updated.

(c) Independent Complaints Investigator – sometimes complaints need a formal investigation or review so an Independent Complaints Investigator may be employed / instructed to help in some cases.

At a stage 2 complaint it is standard practice for yourselves (as the complainant) and the investigator (internal or external) to agree a summarised statement of your concerns and issues.

This can be written as bullet points outlining the main issues of the complaint.  You would then write a formal letter or email to sit alongside the agreed statement of the complaint. 

This summarised statement will ensure that the investigator has understood the points of your concern correctly so they can investigate the complaint.

You can also add a list of what has happened in chronological order (latest/newest at the top moving down in history).  This would also be useful moving forward for Court Hearings or other complaints. 

You could have:

DateWhat happened / occurredOutcome
Monday 8th May 2019Annual ReviewSee notes from meeting. LA to look at other schools. EHCP to be updated with new EP report.
   

Who is in the Customer Relations Team?

Jessica Brooke – Team Manager Mobile

Hilary Moore – Senior Customer Relations Officer (SEN)

Then there are Customer Relations Officers and a Senior Business Support Officer.

After you have made your complaint or at any time during your complaint

You can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) at any time but they are the final stage for complaints about councils. They will normally expect you to have completed all stages of our complaints procedure before considering your complaint: They are the final stage for complaints about councils.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

Address: PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH

Phone: 0300 061 0614

Text: ‘call back’ to 0762 481 1595

Website: http://www.lgo.org.uk