The Archway Project

Who can make a complaint?

This complaints procedure is not limited to parents or carers of children that are registered at the school. Any person, including members of the public, may make a complaint to The Archway Project about any provision of facilities or services that we provide. Unless complaints are dealt with under separate statutory procedures (such as appeals relating to exclusions or admissions), we will use this complaints procedure.

The difference between a concern and a complaint

A concern may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’.

A complaint may be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.

It is in everyone’s interest that concerns and complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to use the formal stages of the complaints procedure. The Archway Project takes concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

If you have difficulty discussing a concern with a particular member of staff, we will respect your views. In these cases, you will be refered you to another staff member. The member of staff may be more senior but does not have to be. The ability to consider the concern objectively and impartially is more important.

We understand however, that there are occasions when people would like to raise their concerns formally. In this case, The Archway Project will attempt to resolve the issue internally, through the stages outlined within this complaints procedure. 

 

How to raise a concern or make a complaint

A concern or complaint can be made in person, in writing or by telephone. They may also be made by a third party acting on behalf on a complainant, as long as they have appropriate consent to do so.

Concerns should be raised with the Project Leader. If the issue remains unresolved, the next step is to make a formal complaint. 

Complainants should not approach individual Trustees to raise concerns or complaints. They have no power to act on an individual basis and it may also prevent them from considering complaints at Stage 2 of the procedure.

Complaints against school staff (except the headteacher) should be made in the first instance, to Glyn Farrow or Alison Harper (Joint CEO) via the school office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

Complaints that involve or are about the headteacher should be addressed to Chrissy Ashley (the Chair of Trustees), via the school office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

Complaints about the Chair of Trustees, any individual Trustee or the whole Trustee board should be addressed to Carole Payne via the Administration office. Please mark them as Private and Confidential.

For ease of use, a template complaint form is included at the end of this procedure. If you require help in completing the form, please contact the Admin office. You can also ask third party organisations like the Citizens Advice to help you.

In accordance with equality law, we will consider making reasonable adjustments if required, to enable complainants to access and complete this complaints procedure. For instance, providing information in alternative formats, assisting complainants in raising a formal complaint or holding meetings in accessible locations.

 

Anonymous complaints

We will not normally investigate anonymous complaints. However, the headteacher or Chair of Trustees, if appropriate, will determine whether the complaint warrants an investigation.

 

Time scales

You must raise the complaint within three months of the incident or, where a series of associated incidents have occurred, within three months of the last of these incidents. We will consider complaints made outside of this time frame if exceptional circumstances apply.

 

Complaints received outside of term time

We will consider complaints made outside of term time to have been received on the first school day after the holiday period.

 

Scope of this Complaints Procedure

This procedure covers all complaints about any provision of community facilities or services by The Archway Project other than complaints that are dealt with under other statutory procedures, including those listed below.

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If other bodies are investigating aspects of the complaint, for example the police, local authority (LA) safeguarding teams or Tribunals, this may impact on our ability to adhere to the timescales within this procedure or result in the procedure being suspended until those public bodies have completed their investigations.

If a complainant commences legal action against The Archway Project in relation to their complaint, we will consider whether to suspend the complaints procedure in relation to their complaint until those legal proceedings have concluded.

 

Resolving complaints

At each stage in the procedure, The Archway Project wants to resolve the complaint. If appropriate, we will acknowledge that the complaint is upheld in whole or in part. In addition, we may offer one or more of the following:

  • an explanation

  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better

  • an assurance that we will try to ensure the event complained of will not recur

  • an explanation of the steps that have been or will be taken to help ensure that it will not happen again and an indication of the timescales within which any changes will be made

  • an undertaking to review our policies in light of the complaint

  • an apology.

 

Withdrawal of a Complaint

If a complainant wants to withdraw their complaint, we will ask them to confirm this in writing.

 

Stage 1

Formal complaints must be made as noted above, via the Administration office. This may be done in person, in writing (preferably on the Complaint Form), or by telephone.

We will record the date the complaint is received and will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 10 school days.

Within this response, we will seek to clarify the nature of the complaint, ask what remains unresolved and what outcome the complainant would like to see. We can consider whether a face to face meeting is the most appropriate way of doing this. 

Note: We may delegate the investigation to another member of our senior leadership team but not the decision to be taken.

During the investigation, we will:

  • if necessary, interview those involved in the matter and/or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish

  • keep a written record of any meetings/interviews in relation to their investigation.

At the conclusion of their investigation, we will provide a formal written response within 30school days of the date of receipt of the complaint.

If we are unable to meet this deadline, we will provide the complainant with an update and revised response date.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions The Archway Project will take to resolve the complaint.

The headteacher will advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 1.

If the complaint is about the headteacher, or a member of the Trustee board (including the Chair or Vice-Chair), a suitably skilled Trustee will be appointed to complete all the actions at Stage 1.

Complaints about the CEO or member of the Trustee board must be made to the Clerk, via the Administration office.

If the complaint is:

  • jointly about the Chair and Vice Chair or

  • the entire Trustee board or

  • the majority of the Trustee board

Stage 1 will be considered by an independent investigator appointed by the Trustee board. At the conclusion of their investigation, the independent investigator will provide a formal written response.

 

Stage 2

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage 1 and wishes to take the matter further, they can escalate the complaint to Stage 2 – a meeting with members of the governing body’s complaints committee, which will be formed of the first three, impartial, governors available. This is the final stage of the complaints procedure.

A request to escalate to Stage 2 must be made to the Clerk, via the Admin office, within 5 school days of receipt of the Stage 1 response.

The Clerk will record the date the complaint is received and acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 5 school days.

Requests received outside of this time frame will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply.

The Clerk will write to the complainant to inform them of the date of the meeting. They will aim to convene a meeting within 15 school days of receipt of the Stage 2 request. If this is not possible, the Clerk will provide an anticipated date and keep the complainant informed.

If the complainant rejects the offer of three proposed dates, without good reason, the Clerk will decide when to hold the meeting. It will then proceed in the complainant’s absence on the basis of written submissions from both parties.

The complaints committee will consist of at least three governors with no prior involvement or knowledge of the complaint. Prior to the meeting, they will decide amongst themselves who will act as the Chair of the Complaints Committee. If there are fewer than three Trustees from The Archway Project available, the Clerk will source any additional, independent Trustees through another local school or through their alternative provision referers. Alternatively, an entirely independent committee may be convened to hear the complaint at Stage 2.

The committee will decide whether to deal with the complaint by inviting parties to a meeting or through written representations, but in making their decision they will be sensitive to the complainant’s needs.

If the complainant is invited to attend the meeting, they may bring someone along to provide support. This can be a relative or friend. Generally, we do not encourage either party to bring legal representatives to the committee meeting. However, there may be occasions when legal representation is appropriate.

For instance, if an employee is called as a witness in a complaint meeting, they may wish to be supported by union and/or legal representation.

Note: Complaints about staff conduct will not generally be handled under this complaints procedure. Complainants will be advised that any staff conduct complaints will be considered under staff disciplinary procedures, if appropriate, but outcomes will not be shared with them.

Representatives from the media are not permitted to attend.

At least 15 school days before the meeting, the Clerk will:

  • confirm and notify the complainant of the date, time and venue of the meeting, ensuring that, if the complainant is invited, the dates are convenient to all parties and that the venue and proceedings are accessible

  • request copies of any further written material to be submitted to the committee at least 5 school days before the meeting.

Any written material will be circulated to all parties at least 10 school days before the date of the meeting. The committee will not normally accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without the informed consent of all parties being recorded.

The committee will also not review any new complaints at this stage or consider evidence unrelated to the initial complaint to be included. New complaints must be dealt with from Stage 1 of the procedure.

The meeting will be held in private. Electronic recordings of meetings or conversations are not normally permitted unless a complainant’s own disability or special needs require it. Prior knowledge and consent of all parties attending must be sought before meetings or conversations take place. Consent will be recorded in any minutes taken.

The committee will consider the complaint and all the evidence presented. The committee can:

  • uphold the complaint in whole or in part

  • dismiss the complaint in whole or in part.

If the complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the committee will:

  • decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint

  • where appropriate, recommend changes to the school’s systems or procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.

The Chair of the Committee will provide the complainant and The Archway Project with a full explanation of their decision and the reason(s) for it, in writing, within 10 school days.

If the complaint is:

  • jointly about the Chair and Vice Chair or

  • the entire Trustee board or

  • the majority of the Trustee board

Stage 2 will be heard by a committee of independent Trustees.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions The Archway Project will take to resolve the complaint. 

The response will also advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied.

© The Archway Youth Project 2019

Archway Project, Arch B The Link Thamesmead,

Bazalgette Way, London SE2 9BS

Tel: 020 8310 1730                                                  

Company No.12137895