Compliments, comments and complaints

Who can complain?

The person who makes the complaint must either be the person receiving the services or a person complaining on behalf of the person receiving the services. This can include children and young people, their parents, carers or legal guardians or someone who has the permission of the person receiving the services to represent them.


How to make a complaint

If things do go wrong, the 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.

Complaint process:

Stage 1 – Local resolution

  • First of all you should pass your complaint to the person you are complaining about and/or to their team manager. We can give you their details if you do not have them. For example if you are complaining about the SEN Team or the process you would send the complaint to the Area Special Needs Manager (ASNM) and/or the Area Team Manager (ATM).
  • Your complaint can be made: in person, over the telephone or in writing.

We advise that your stage 1 complaint is in writing e.g. in an email, so you have proof it was sent. We also advise you include “Stage 1 complaint” as a subject title.

Complaints should first be responded to by the responsible service area as the LA want to resolve complaints quickly. Their aim is to provide a full response within 10 working days.

If the LA are going to take longer then they will let you know. They will also tell you how to progress your complaint if you remain unhappy.

Stage 2 – Investigation

  •  If you feel you need to move onto a Stage 2 complaint then you should send this to the Children’s Rights Team (details below). You can copy in those that you sent the Stage 2 complaint to.
  • Your complaint can be made: in person, over the telephone or in writing.

We advise that your stage 2 complaint is in writing e.g. in an email, so you have proof it was sent. We also advise you include “Stage 2 complaint” as a subject title.

Stage 2 deals with two types of complaints: those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and 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 request will be passed to a Customer Relations Investigator / Officer who is independent of the service you are complaining about. These Officers sit within the Children’s Rights Team. They will review your complaint and explore the options available which can include:

  1. Refer the complaint back to the service you are complaining about with a request to reconsider all, or specific parts, of your complaint;
  2. Mediation; or
  3. A more detailed investigation.

If the LA 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. If, for any reason, the investigator is unable to keep to this timescale they will keep you informed.


Ways to make your complaint to the Children’s Rights Team:

  • Write to: Children’s Rights Team, Surrey County Council, Quadrant Court, 3rd Floor, 35 Guildford Road, Woking, Surrey GU22 7QQ
  • Telephone: 01483 519095
  • Email: childrens.rights@surreycc.gov.uk

There are also ways for a child or young person to contact the team directly:

  • Children’s free phone number: 08000 562 132 (not free from mobiles)
  • Children’s text number: 07805 846 386
  • Children’s email: be.heard@surreycc.gov.uk

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. 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:

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

Who else can I complain to?

Further people in Surrey:

Executive Director:

Education Lifelong Learning and Culture:

The Information Commissioner

If your complaint is about whether or not the LA have complied with the Data Protection Act or the Freedom of Information Act you can contact the Information Commissioner:

  • Address:Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF
  • Phone: 01625 545 745
  • Email: data@protection.gov.uk
  • Website: www.ico.org.uk

Complaints about a School

Maintained Schools

Firstly you should get a copy of the Schools Complaint policy. This should be on their website.  (Sometimes it is best to search “name of school Complaints Policy) as sometimes the policy is well hidden!).

In accordance with Section 29(1) of the Education Act 2002, all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools must have and publish procedures to deal with all complaints relating to their school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides, for which there are no separate (statutory) procedures.

Surrey’s model complaints procedure is as follows:

Stage 1

Express concern to appropriate member of school staff. This maybe the SENCo.
If no satisfactory outcome, then:

Stage 2

Contact the Headteacher to investigate complaint.
If no satisfactory outcome, then:

Stage 3

Contact the Chair of Governors to investigate complaint.
If no satisfactory outcome, then:

Stage 4

Contact the Clerk to Governors for a Complaint Review by governors.

You can also request the LA Area Schools Officer (ASO) to assist with resolving concerns and/or complaint if the school ‘buys in’ to their support.

You could write to the Secretary of State for Education. The Secretary of State is responsible for the work of the Department for Education, including:

  • early years
  • children’s social care
  • teachers’ pay
  • the school curriculum
  • school improvement
  • academies and free schools
  • further education
  • higher education and
  • apprenticeships and skills.

The online form can be found here.

You are also able to email Ofsted using the Ofsted online complaints form.:

Ofsted will not usually consider a complaint if you have not first followed the school’s or academy’s, local authority’s or Education Skills and Funding Agency’s complaints procedure. This includes writing to the Secretary of State for Education.

Academy / Free School

If the school is an academy and you feel that the governing body or board of trustees have acted unreasonably about your concerns, you can write to the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA):

The Education and Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road
Coventry
CV1 2WT

Or email: complaints.ESFA@education.gov.uk

Independent school or a place that provides education only for students aged over 16

Ofsted cannot consider complaints about independent schools or places that provide education only for people over the age of 16. Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) carry out inspections.

For independent schools you should write to the school first. Further guidance on complaints procedures for independent schools is on the GOV.UK website.

For provisions that provide education only for people over the age of 16, you should write to the provision first. If you are unhappy with their response, you can send your complaint in writing to:

The Education and Skills Funding Agency
Cheylesmore House
Quinton Road
Coventry
CV1 2WT

Or email: complaints.ESFA@education.gov.uk