How to complain about school or university

5 min read
October 11, 2016

11/10/16 What can you do about complaining abut your child’s school or university?

School Complaints

Education – whether school or university – is such a big part of any child’s life that it’s crucial they have the best experience possible. Sadly, that sometimes doesn’t happen – and that’s when you might need to make a complaint.

But how do you go about it? Well, with a new academic year just starting, let’s go through the minefield that is complaining abut your child’s school or university. What can issues you legitimately raise? And what do you need to avoid?

If you have an issue with a university or school, raise your complaint free via Resolver.

Simple situations:

Complaining to your child’s school is generally all about common sense. Whenever possible, it’s best to sort things out semi-informally via a polite discussion over the phone, in person or via email with the teachers at your child’s school if you feel your child has been treated unfairly. In the majority of cases, you’ll get a positive outcome this way, as most complaints are usually easy to resolve – such as reasons for being late or your child getting in trouble for a missing homework. In these cases, a simple email is most appropriate.

Formal issues

If you decide to make a formal complaint about your child’s school, you need to think about what it is you’re complaining about. If it’s over something trivial, a written letter to the board of governors will be too much – and could just get laughed at. And your child will get a reputation for having an irritating parent. However, if it is more serious, such as an issue about an abusive teacher, a formal written complaint is much more appropriate.

Take into account the trustworthiness of the witnesses

Every parent will know that their child is extremely good at claiming ‘it wasn’t me’ or ‘not my fault’, even if the child had just punched their sibling in the face, or coloured in the dog. Here, if the dispute is over a sanction, consider the possibilities of what happened (using the principle of Ockham’s Razor – ie the simplest explanation is probably the truth):

1. Your child was caught throwing a paper ball at their friend just as the teacher saw.


2. Your child was listening coherently to the teacher, ignoring any distractions and conferring knowledge with the teacher, but the teacher decided to randomly give your child a detention.

Think about any mitigating circumstances before complaining. A couple of examples:

– If your issue is about school being cancelled due to severe weather, then you cannot complain to the school, as it is not their fault.
– If it is about the curriculum, or exam timetables and exam difficulty, then complain to the Government – they write it.

If you need to formally complain and have decided your case needs to be in writing, then here’s how:

There are three different ways you can complain, depending on where your child goes to school:

1. If your child attends a State school.

State schools include maintained schools and academies and free schools.

If you think your child is in danger, call your local council or police on 101.

How to make a complaint.

1. Follow the school’s own complaints system, if you are having trouble call them up as they are obliged to have one.
2. Complain in writing to the head teacher, Resolver can help you write the letter here.
3. Complain in writing to the Governor’s board of the school, again, Resolver can help you here.
4. Complain to the Department of Education. 

If you are complaining about how the school is run, then contact Ofsted. Resolver can help you here.

2. If your child attends a Private school

How to make a Complaint

1. Follow the School’s complaints Procedure
2. Complain in writing to the head teacher
3. Complain in writing to the schools governing body.

Raise anything further with the department of education, here Resolver can help.

3. If your child attends a Special educational needs school.

Only move on to the next step if your complaint is not resolved

1. Talk to the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator
2. Follow the school’s complaints procedure
3. Complain to your local authority if you’re not happy with how the school has dealt with your complaint

If you require any further assistance with your complaint, then Resolver is here for free.


University fees are now going to increase after 2017, becoming £9000+ per annum. If you need to complain, here are 7 steps to help you. Relsolver is here for you for each step, for free!

1. Read up on your University’s complaint policy.

2. Know what you are complaining about.

3. Check CMA’s Rights for students with Resolver.

4. Collect necessary evidence

5. Submit your formal complaint with Resolver

6. Receive your completion of Procedures letter

7. If it needs to be escalated to the OIA, Resolver is here.

Your university rights:

As a student, you should expect a high quality of service from your university or college. If you have a complaint about the academic programme, your first step should be to talk to your tutor or the member of staff responsible. Explain the situation and give them an opportunity to put things right.

Any complaint you make should be treated confidentially and should have no impact on your study or marks.

Making a complaint

If the issue cannot be resolved informally, you should make a formal complaint in writing. You can do this through Resolver. Include as much detail about your complaint as possible and explain how you would like it to be resolved. Include any evidence relevant to your complaint. You should raise the issue promptly, usually within 6 weeks of the issue occurring.
You may want to ask for a copy of your university’s complaints policy, which should be available on its website. The university should respond promptly to your complaint, usually within two weeks.

How Resolver will help. 

Resolver will record all your emails and phone calls automatically and for free. At each stage of the process, it knows who to escalate your case to within the university and when to do this.

If you have an issue with a university or school, raise your complaint free via Resolver. 

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