Our complaints policy tells you how to make a formal complaint and the procedure we follow.
Introduction & Context
The Complaints policy is intended to bring matters of concern and recognition to the attention of the College. It will enable investigation and acknowledgement of those concerns and comments, to ensure resolution.
The process enables a flow of feedback to Homefield College to continuously improve.
Homefield College is committed to equality and accessibility of all and this will be the highest priority throughout any process carried out. If reasonable adjustments are required to ensure a complaint can be raised, these will be instigated by Homefield College to provide access to all.
A complaint is defined as a verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction regarding an aspect of a service or facility, or another matter of serious concern connected to an individual or group’s experience of the College. It applies both internally and externally.
Principles & Scope for Complaints
This policy is for use by students, parents, carers, guardians, employers, customers, clients, external organisations and the general public.
The policy aims to be simple, clear and fair to all parties involved, with informal resolution an option at any point. Complaints will be handled sensitively and with due consideration to confidentiality. Any person named in a complaint will be informed of the substance of the complaint and will have the right to reply as part of the investigation. Information contained within the complaint will be made available only to those members of staff involved in its resolution. The Principal and Senior Management Team will also be informed of the complaint. The Board of Trustees will also be informed of any formal complaints that arise at board meetings.
It is expected that, except in exceptional and fully documented circumstances, a complainant who wishes to make a complaint will invoke the Informal Stage within one calendar month of the incident.
No complainant bringing a complaint under this policy, whether successfully or otherwise will be treated less favourably by any member of staff or student than if the complaint had not been brought. If evidence to the contrary is found in this regard the member of staff or student may be subject to disciplinary proceedings under College policy.
It should also be noted that anonymous complaints cannot be investigated.
All complaints will be subject to the requirements of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) under the Data Protection Act (2018).
Third Party Reporting
Complainants may need to have a third party acting on their behalf, but this can only happen if we have confirmed authorisation from the individual. As an organisation we also need to confirm that there is a valid reason for this, such as mental capacity to do so and that it is in their best interests to enable this to happen.
Monitoring & Review
The Funding and Admissions Manager will oversee the tracking and monitoring of complaints progressed through the informal and formal procedure and will ensure that records show the nature of the complaint, how it was dealt with, the time taken for each part and the outcome.
It is anticipated that most complaints can be resolved through informal means.
All complaints received either verbally or in writing should be immediately referred to the Manager of the area, in which the complaint arose.
Every effort should be made to resolve the issue quickly and to the satisfaction of all parties by prompt response. Staff members dealing with a complaint should respond to the complainant initially to acknowledge the complaint and detail the actions that will be taken to investigate the issue within 24 hours. If this is not possible the matter should be escalated through the line management structure so that the College can adhere to this timescale.
If the response to the complaint through the informal procedure resolves the issue, details of the complaint, and the actions taken should be sent to the Admissions & Funding Manager.
If the response to the complaint under the Informal Procedure is not considered by the complainant to be satisfactory, or if the complainant does not feel able to use the informal approach, they may alternatively, submit the complaint in writing or be supported to do so, to the Admissions & Funding Manager. The College will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within five working days.
The complaint needs to be logged in writing before it can be actioned, with confirmation that the complainant wants it to be taken in a formal manner.
The formal procedure would comprise of the allocation of an investigating manager. This is identified by a member of SMT as the most appropriate person to fulfil the role and will not be someone with line management responsibility of any persons included in the complaint.
The investigating manager will carry out an initial investigation of the complaint within 10 working days of receipt of the notification and the outcome sent to the complainant by the investigating manager. Where necessary this will be followed by a full response within one calendar month. If appropriate the complainant may be invited to attend a hearing to consider the complaint. They may be accompanied by a friend or other representative. The decision notified to the complainant will set out the steps to be taken to remedy the complaint, or the reasons why the complaint has not been upheld. The timescales under this section may need to be extended during College holidays.
If any complaints involve a manager, the investigation must be carried out by a senior manager but not the Principal to enable the appeal process to be followed. If a complaint relates to the Principal, the Head of Human Resources must carry out the investigation.
If the response to the complaint following completion is not considered by the complainant to be satisfactory, they may invoke an appeal of the formal procedure by a request in writing or supported to do so, within ten working days of notification of the decision. The request should be addressed to the Principal outlining why the outcome is not satisfactory.
Considering the substance of the complaint and the previous attempts at resolution, the case will then be reviewed by the Principal who will provide the complainant with a decision in writing within one calendar month of receipt of the complainant’s request under the Appeal Stage. The Principal’s decision will set out the steps to be taken to remedy the complaint, or the reasons why the appeal has failed. The Principal’s decision will be final.
If an appeal is in relation to a complaint regarding the Principal it will be carried out by the Head of the Board of Trustees and their decision will be final.
Should a complaint be upheld, the investigating manager, many make recommendations to the Senior Management Team.
If a complaint is not upheld, the complainant will be informed in writing with reasons for its rejection.
Any conclusions and recommendations will be communicated in writing to the complainant and Senior Management Team.
Reports of complaints will be shared at the Board of Trustee meetings. This will assist in monitoring the effectiveness of the Complaint Procedure and identifying improvements in practice.
The college will do its upmost to adhere to the set timeframes in dealing with complaints but with very complex complaints or other external unforeseen circumstances it may be necessary to extend the timeframes to ensure quality of investigation. This will be communicated at the earliest opportunity and new time frame agreed with complainant.
Last Reviewed: February 2021
Review Due: July 2021
Person Responsible: Funding & Admissions Manager