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Complaints about Schools

How to make a complaint about a school

Complaints about schools (including free schools and academies) should, with few exceptions, be directed to the school themselves. This is because the day to day running of schools is the responsibility of the head teacher / governing body. Local authorities can only intervene in very specific circumstances, and cannot overturn a decision made properly and legally by the governing body. They may, however, work with and advise a school and its governing body, particularly where statutory responsibilities or duties exist (e.g. where discrimination has been alleged, or a complaint has been made about the curriculum).

Concerns can often be resolved by speaking to the head teacher or another staff member, but if this does not prove to be possible, you should consider making a formal complaint.

Every school has a complaints policy, though the processes they detail may vary, and parents are entitled to ask for a copy of this.

Your formal complaint to the school should make it clear :

  • Why you are complaining
  • Who you have spoken to already
  • What you want to happen as a result of your complaint

What to do if you are not satisfied with the response

If, after receiving a response from the school / governing body, you remain dissatisfied, you have the right to take your complaint to the School Complaints Unit (SCU). The SCU considers complaints relating to local authority-maintained schools in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for the Department of Education.

The Secretary of State has a duty to consider all complaints raised but will only intervene where the governing body has acted unlawfully or unreasonably and where it is practical to do so.

Further information can be obtained from the SCU by calling the National Helpline on 03700 002288, going online at :, or by writing to:

Department for Education, School Complaints Unit, 2nd Floor, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD

When the council might handle your complaint

Instances where the council might accept feedback about schools include those relating to :

  • Admissions
  • Allegations about school staff or volunteers
  • Child protection
  • Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)
  • Exclusions
  • Provision of the national curriculum
  • School transport
  • Special Educational Needs (SEN) assessments

In regard to issues with school admissions, transport applications, EHCPs, and SEN assessments, there are appeals processes in place for parents to challenge decisions we have made.

Useful information

Complaints about a school’s SEN support should be directed to the school in question. Further information on this process can be found at SEN support complaints.

If you have any queries about the transport application appeals process, please ring 01452 425390 or write to From 2016 / 17, a spare seat scheme is also in effect for pupils not entitled to free school transport. Further information on the spare seat scheme can be found at spare seat scheme.

Further information on school admission appeals can be found at school admission appeals.

Further information on EHCP appeals can be found at EHCP appeals.

Further information on making allegations about school staff or volunteers can be found at allegations management.

Further information on child protection issues can be found at child protection.

Useful websites

Information regarding school complaints procedures is also available from the following websites :

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