When and how to complain about a school.
All the schools in Oxfordshire want their children to do well and be happy. They recognise that you as a parent/guardian play an important part in making this happen. Therefore, schools aim to provide as many opportunities to keep you informed and involved in your child's progress as they possibly can. Regular reports, open days and visits all helping the process. Questions and concerns are usually dealt with quickly and helpfully.
However, we recognise there are time when things go wrong, when concerns continue and differences of opinion develop. These can usually be resolved by speaking to the right person. Most concerns can be settled without too much trouble, but whatever the issue, even where you are seriously concerned about your child's future at the school, it's always important to try to find an answer. Disruption to a child's education would be the most damaging result of all.
What to do first
Take a few minutes to read this page. Then think the complaint through
What actually happened?
Remember there is often more than one view about an incident or situation. For example, your child may well be telling the truth but it may not be the whole story.
What do you want to complain about?
What do you hope will happen as a result of your complaint? It might help to talk this through with a friend or relative.
When you make a complaint, remember that although you want to change a situation, you want it to end on a positive note with no bad feelings. In order to do this you should try to follow the procedures carefully and always try not to put yourself or anyone else into a corner.
What to do next
When you are clear in your own mind as to what you believe has happened, you then need to speak to someone at the school. Contact the headteacher  to arrange a meeting.
Although some schools, particularly for younger children, can arrange to see parents who just 'pop in', this is not generally possible. It is always best to try to make an appointment where you can sit and talk things through calmly and without interruption. Investigating complaints does take time and the answers aren't always readily available, but you will at least be able to decide whether the action taken (or not taken) was reasonable and whether any further steps taken by the teacher would solve the problem.
If you are still unhappy
In most cases, the problem will have been solved by this stage. However, if you are still unhappy, then you should contact the Chair of Governors . The school will be able to help you contact with this person who may help to resolve the problem informally, possibly by arranging a meeting between those involved. Once again you'll have the opportunity to talk through your concerns with an independent party who is there to listen and to discuss what is being said. If, after this, you are still not satisfied with the answer, then you should ask to make a formal complaint to the governing body.
Complaints to the governing body
As this is a serious step to take, it is important that you have thought things through carefully and that every possible attempt has been made to solve your concerns by other means.
Normally, a panel of governors will be called to hear your case and all sides will be asked to submit a written statement. You will also be invited to attend any hearing that is held, to present your side of the story.
The decision of the governors' panel will then be sent in writing to all parties.
If you are still unhappy
If, after the governors have dealt with your complaints, you are still unhappy with the decision that was taken, you can contact us for advice on what to do next. For example, if you feel that the governing body has acted unreasonably, you can consider complaining to the Secretary of State for Education.
Complaints about bullying at school
See our guidance on bullying at school  for details about what to do and who to contact if you wish to make a complaint about a school in relation to bullying.