All state schools have a formal complaints procedure and independent schools usually follow good practice too. This complaints procedure is often displayed and/or is available in the prospectus. There are five stages in this procedure and most complaints are sorted out informally at Stage 1.

Most complaints will be satisfactorily dealt with at this informal stage. If you are still concerned and wish to continue to the next stage there is advice available.

Organisations that can offer support and advice

The BSA can provide information about stammering and its effects on children and provide you with information and support.

Parent Partnership

Parent partnership services provide accurate and unbiased information on the options available to you. They may provide you with advice to guide you through the complaints procedures and processes or link you to organisations and groups that can help.

You can find your local parent partnership service through your local authority or the National Parent Partnership Network.

Independent parental supporters

Your local parent partnership service should be able to give you access to an independent parental supporter who can help you through the procedures involved in making a formal complaint. They work under the guidance and supervision of your local parent partnership service and are usually trained volunteers.

While an independent parental supporter helps you understand what is happening, they will not make decisions about your child. You can also choose any other adult you wish to support you: for example, a friend, a relative or someone from a voluntary organisation. You may request that this person accompanies you to significant meetings.

Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) an independent advice centre for parents, offering information about state education in England and Wales for five to 16 year olds. They offer free telephone advice on many subjects like exclusion from school, bullying and special educational needs.


If the parent and the school have not reached agreement by Stage 4 an external mediator is invited to help to settle the complaint. This person should be acceptable to both parties, listen to both sides and offer advice. A mediator has no legal powers but can help to define the problem, review the action so far and suggest further ways in which it might be resolved. Usually the local authority would be contacted to provide a mediator. Usually the local authority would be contacted to provide a mediator.

The mediator keeps all discussion confidential. S/he can hold separate meetings with the Headteacher/governor and the parent, if this is decided to be helpful. The mediator keeps an agreed written record of any meetings that are held and of any advice s/he gives.

At Stage 5 the mediator's conclusions and advice are discussed with the parent and the school and hopefully the complaint is resolved.

The role of the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED).

Parents may approach OFSTED directly at any stage of this complaints procedure but should certainly do so if a complaint is not resolved at stage 5.

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Text for this whole section: When you have to make a formal complaint