Complaints Procedure

It is our aim to be able to resolve and deal with any complaints that may arise informally. However, if a matter cannot be resolved informally it should be raised as a formal complaint.

If you have a concern about any aspect of Canterbury New Initiative, please speak to the person directly responsible for the subject of your concern.

Concerns about teaching or aspects of the education should be directed to your child’s class teacher. Concerns about general administrative and financial aspects of the initiative should be directed to the Administration Office. If, for any reason you feel unable to speak directly to the person concerned please contact any other member of staff within that setting.

We will do everything reasonable to manage your complaint within the timescales set out here. However, in the interests of accuracy and justice, the procedure may sometimes take longer. If this happens the Chair of Trustees will contact you in order to discuss an extended timescale.

A complete record of formal complaints will be registered for the purposes of inspection. Your details however will be kept confidential.

You should send your complaint in writing, addressed to the Chair of Trustees, who will register that a formal complaint has been received. You should receive acknowledgement of a formal complaint within 2 working days and, following this, we will aim to meet with you within 5 working days. Your written complaint must include the following points:

  • Your name and contact details
  • Reason for complaint. Include dates, witnesses and as much information about your complaint as possible.
  • Your suggestions to resolve the matter.
  • Ensure that you sign and date the letter and indicate if you have included any additional documents.

We would strongly suggest that you keep a copy of all paperwork that you submit to us for your own records.

The Chair of Trustees will ensure that a full investigation is carried out into the circumstances of the complaint and, once they are satisfied that all the relevant facts have been established, you will be informed in writing of their findings and recommendations.

All parties will receive copies of the relevant documents and we aim for this process to take no longer than 10 working days.

If you do not agree with the report or recommendations of the Chair of Trustees, you can call for a Trustees Review Panel Hearing by writing to the Board of Trustees. From this stage, the Chair of Trustees will no longer be involved in your complaint. The Board of Trustees will then appoint a panel.

Once appointed, the Panel Chair will contact you within 48 hours to inform you of the procedure and composition of the Panel and the time, date and place of the panel hearing.

You have the right to be accompanied to a panel hearing by one other person, who may be a relative, friend or supportive acquaintance (legal representation will not normally be accepted).  If you want to supply any further information you should do so within one week of the date of the panel hearing. All further information will be made available to all those involved. Any new information supplied at the time of a Panel Hearing may result in a delay of a final decision or the need to reconvene the meeting at a later date.

The decision of the Panel will be final. We offer no further appeal to the decision of a Review Panel.

Following the hearing, the Panel Chair will inform you and the subject of the complaint of their decision in writing, normally within 5 working days.

Guidelines for Conduct

The Panel Chair is responsible for the conduct of the hearing. The following notes provide a general overview of the way a hearing will normally be conducted:

  • The Panel Chair will ensure that the proceedings are accurately recorded. Normally, new information, witnesses or other evidence should be made available at least 7 days prior to the hearing so that everyone has time to consider and respond to it. New evidence supplied later than this may lead to an adjournment of the hearing.
  • Prior to the hearing, the parties should wait in separate rooms. The Review Panel will hear evidence from the parties separately
  • The Chair welcomes the complainant and companion, introduces the Review Panel and outlines the process that will be followed
  • The complainant is asked to explain their objections to the conclusions of the investigation
  • Agreed witnesses may be called (normally witness evidence will be provided in written form)
  • The Panel may ask questions for clarification
  • The complainant and companion leave the meeting room
  • The Chair welcomes the member of staff representing the recommendations of the investigation, introduces the Review Panel and outlines the process that will be followed
  • The staff member explains the original response to the panel. The panel considers what it has heard and the evidence and may recall either party for to answer further questions
  • The panel considers its decision – either to  give a verbal summary of its unanimous decision  reserve its decision for to 36 hours, at the end of which a final judgement will be issued in writing  state that it is unable to arrive at a decision, in which case the procedure should be restarted with a different panel.
  • The deliberations of the panel are confidential. If there is a split decision, the Chair has the casting vote.
  • The panel decision will –  uphold or deny the complaint according to the evidence available. In addition: – it may recommend changes to school procedure or other measures to help ensure similar complaints do not reoccur – it may require Canterbury New Initiative to take action to redress the complaint, e.g. to issue an apology, or statement of correction
  • The parties will be recalled to the meeting room either to –  hear a brief summing up from the panel, or  be told of the decision to reserve judgement  be told that the panel, having been unable make a decision, will dissolve with a new panel to be convened at the earliest possible opportunity.
  • If there is to be a summing up, the panel Chair should explain that he will give its view of what they have heard, that this is not an opportunity for either party to argue the matter further, however, after the verbal summary has been made the parties may put a limited number of questions to the panel to assist their understanding of the adjudication.
  • The outcome of the panel will be confirmed in writing within 10 working days.
  • The Initiative’s internal procedure is complete.