The Education Network for Waltham Forest
Supported by Waltham Forest


Guidance for Schools & Colleges

Maintained schools and maintained nursery schools

Since 1 September 2003 governing bodies of all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England have been required, under Section 29 of the Education Act 2002, to have in place a procedure to deal with all complaints relating to their school and to any community facilities or services that the school provides. This does not limit complainants to parents or carers of pupils registered at a school. A complainant could be a member of the wider community or representing an ex-pupil.

The law also requires the procedure to be publicised. How schools choose to do this is a matter for local determination however the Department for Education (DfE) recommends publishing it online.

The majority of schools already have a complaints procedure in place, generally based on local authority (LA) or Diocesan Board models. Follow this link to access the DfE's advice for maintained schools and local authorities, which is intended to help schools draw up a complaints procedure if they have not already done so, or to review their existing procedure if they wish.

In addition, logged-in users can download below the model complaints procedure from the LA, which is intended as a good practice guide.

Other schools

Academies, free schools and independent schools should make sure they meet the requirements as laid out in the Education (Independent Schools Standards) Regulations 2010. The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has produced guidance as to how to create an academies complaints procedure that complies with the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2014. 

Non-maintained special schools should make sure they meet the requirements as laid out in the Education (Non-maintained Special Schools) Regulations 2011.

Further information

Waltham Forest Council has produced its own guidance for residents, which states that complaints about schools should be made to schools in the first instance. The governors appeal is the final stage in the complaints process. The local authority will not reinvestigate complaints that are referred to them, but will ensure that due process has been followed. 

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) handles complaints about open academies and free schools. Part of its role is to make sure academies comply with the terms of their funding agreement which is a contract between the academy and the Secretary of State. In a similar way to maintained schools and complaining to the local authority, before submitting a complaint to the EFA residents' first step should be to make a complaint directly to the academy following its complaints procedure. The EFA has published guidance as to how to complain to the EFA about an academy.


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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 27 April, 2016
Last updated: 27 April 2016 by Barry Fong