How do you know if the education or SEND provision that you are unhappy about is covered by a complaints process, or which process to use? Our handy education complaints FAQs is here to help with some examples about the kind of issues that are covered by the complaints process in schools, local authorities and the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman.
Schools: what you can complain about
You can complain when you are dissatisfied with the actions of a school. Examples of types of education complaints can be:
- bullying by a pupil or a teacher;
- policy changes;
- failure to follow statutory guidance—e.g. in relation to a fixed-term exclusion;
- failure to provide support for children with Special Educational Needs;
- any other concerns about the school.
Local authorities: what you can make education complaints about
You may wish to make an education complaint about a local authority if they are failing in their legal duties to make provision. Examples of types of complaints can be:
- failing to provide what they are legally required to provide*, for example, the education, health or social care in section F in an Education, Health and Care Plan (the legal duty lies with the LA, not the school);
- causing significant delay (e.g. with the assessment process, finalising an EHCP or an annual review);
- failing to comply with the law.
If the lack of provision is urgent and critical, you may want to consider starting a judicial review process
How do I know who to complain to?
Even though health provision may be delivered by NHS professionals such as CAMHS, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy, if it is in section F (provision) of an EHC Plan, the local authority is the responsible body for ensuring it is carried out.
If the health provision is in Section G (health) of the EHC Plan, then the responsibility lies with the local health body (Clinical Commissioning Group, or CCG). You will therefore need to complain to the CCG who is in charge of this. You can read more about the NHS complaints process on the NHS website. You may also consider getting in touch with your area’s Designated Medical Officer/Designated Clinical Officer (DCMO) who liaises between health providers and the local authority for disabled children’s provision in EHCPs, in case they may be able to help.
When it comes to social care provision in an EHCP, if it is in Section H1, it is the duty of the local authority. However, if the young person with the EHCP is aged 18-25, the social care is likely to be provided under the Care Act 2014. In this case, the complaint is to the local authority’s social care department.
For more details about who to complain to be sure to visit our education complaints page.