A person, or someone acting on their behalf, may make a complaint, in connection with how the authority carries out, or fails to carry out, its functions under the Act (s15). This could include their duties to:
- provide advice and information to parents about their own child
- promote parental involvement
- promote and support the operation of Parent Councils.
In practice, almost all issues will be able to be resolved at school or education authority level.
Handling Complaints at Local Level
School-based staff, e.g. class teacher; senior school staff/head teacher consider complaints relating to an individual child. Discuss with parents and pupils to resolve matters. May take a team approach to meetings (including other agencies) where helpful. Headteacher to consider complaints in respect of the school and its wider parental involvement.
Education authority level - authority to have clear arrangements for handling complaints. Should include single entry point for all complaints and consider whether the complaint falls within more formal appeal routes (see below). Where issues persist, consider whether independent mediation might allow both parties to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
Section 4 of the toolkit provides a range of ideas for helping parents to communicate concerns or complaints and help resolve disagreements at a local level. There may be cases which require to be taken through more formal procedures. The main ones are described below.
Formal Appeal or Resolution Routes
Parental Involvement Act
(i) in case of complaint in respect of individual child's education, parents to be offered advice/options, including referral to statutory appeal routes where appropriate (see opposite)(ii) named officer to consider complaints in respect of authority's wider duties.
Education Authority Appeal CommitteesCommittees hear placing request (where no co-ordinated support plan) and exclusion appeals.
Additional Support for Learning ActProvides for various appeal routes in respect of an individual child who has additional support needs. Includes mediation, dispute resolution and, the Additional support Needs Tribunal (in the case of co-ordinated support plans and associated placing requests).
Exceptionally, a few cases may go to:
- Scottish Ministers (failure of education authority to carry out duties under education law - Section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980)
- Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (for issues of service failure or maladministration
- Civil Courts (Judicial Review).
(appeal against education authority appeal committee decisions).
Court of Session
Additional Support Needs Tribunal case can be taken to appeal on point of law.
Section 6 of the toolkit includes general advice and information on effective complaints procedures which can also be used with more formal appeals routes.