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Complaints about schools

Working with your child's school to solve problems

Good communication is vital for building a partnership between home and school and it also builds understanding and co-operation between parents, staff and governors.

Cornwall Council is not responsible for the day to day running of schools, therefore, any complaint received will be directed back to the school to resolve in liaison with the complainant.

How to make a complaint about local authority (LA) maintained and academy schools

  • An LA maintained school is administered by local government (Cornwall Council)
  • An an academy is directly under the control of central government

Both types of school are state funded. You can find out if your child's school is LA maintained or an academy from their website.

Step 1

Contact the school to discuss the problem first – most problems can be solved this way

  • It is best to raise concerns / complaints at the earliest opportunity with appropriate school staff
  • For special educational needs (SEN) this can include the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator). Every school has one of one of these

NB If your concern relates to a statutory assessment of SEN, called an education, health and care needs assessment, you may wish to contact Cornwall SENDIASS. They are an independent free service for families that can provide support and advice on a wide range of SEN matters

You can also contact our Statutory SEN Service at:

Step 2

If it is not possible to address the problem informally, follow all the steps in the school’s complaints policy

The complaints policy is available from your child's school. You can ask the School Office for a copy, it should also be published on the school's website.

Step 3

If you feel that a school’s complaints policy has not been followed correctly by the school, then you can contact:

The ESFA will only consider the complaint if the complainant can provide evidence that the school or multi academy trust:

  • does not have a complaints procedure
  • did not provide a copy of its complaints procedure when requested
  • does not have a procedure that complies with statutory regulations
  • has not followed its published complaints procedure
  • has not allowed its complaints procedure to be

For special educational needs you can contact us after following the steps in your child's school complaints policy.

If you have used all the stages in a school’s complaints policy and are not satisfied with the outcome you can contact us via our feedback team.

Further information on different types of complaint can be found via the links below:

Most concerns and complaints are resolved by discussion with school staff or use of the school’s complaints policy. However, concerns or complaints about any of the topics below can be made to us through our Feedback Team

  • the content of the daily act of collective worship (with the exception of church aided schools)
  • admissions to schools (where the local authority is the admission authority)
  • permanent exclusions of children from school
  • the statutory assessment of special educational needs (SEN) called an education, health and care needs assessment
  • your child is not attending school due to long term / ongoing medical or health

Your complaint must relate to the school as a whole.

Ofsted cannot:

  • consider issues about individual pupils
  • investigate specific incidents
  • judge how well a school responded to a complaint
  • mediate or resolve disputes between you and the school
  • consider complaints if there are other legal ways to pursue them (for example, complaints about admissions or providing education for individual pupils with special educational needs)

Ofsted may use your information to inform or bring forward future school inspections.  Complaints to Ofsted should be made using the online form.

You can complain to the DfE if:

  • a child is at risk
  • a child is missing school
  • the school is stopping you from following its complaints procedure
  • your complaint is about the content of the national

Complaints to the DfE should be made using the online form.

The HM Courts and Tribunals Services are responsible for handling appeals against local authority decisions regarding special educational needs, including a refusal to:

  • assess a child or young person’s educational, health and care (EHC) needs
  • reassess their EHC needs
  • issue an EHC plan
  • change what’s in a child or young person’s EHC plan
  • maintain the EHC plan

They also handle appeals against decisions to refuse young people in custody:

  • an EHC assessment
  • an EHC plan after assessment
  • a placement to a suitable school or other educational institution after their release

They also handle appeals against discrimination by schools or local authorities due to a child’s disability.

Find out more about a First Tier Tribunal (SEND)

Find out more about making a claim against disability discrimination

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