Education complaints

How do I complain about schools, universities and colleges?

On this page you will find advice on how to complain about services provided by a school, university or college.

How to complain about a school service

Each school has to have a published complaints procedure. These are generally in three stages:

  • You should initially talk to the class teacher about your complaint.
  • If they cannot solve it, you should contact the head teacher next.
  • If the head teacher cannot solve the complaint, then the next stage is to contact the Chair of Governors in writing. You can do this by addressing your letter of complaint to the Chair of Governors c/o the school, and mark your letter "Private and Confidential". Most complaints can be resolved quickly in this way.

If you would like further information on how to make a complaint about something that has happened at school, you can contact the Standards and Complaints team.

All schools including academies are required to have a complaints policy but the Local Authority does not stipulate the steps of the process itself. Whilst the LA offers a model complaints policy for schools to use it is the responsibility for each school to draw up their own policy.

If you have been through the school’s complaint’s procedure but remain dissatisfied, you will need to check each school’s individual complaints process to find out the next step.

If the school’s policy has a Local Authority stage you may write to: Education and Inclusion, c/o Room 326, Kings House, Grand Avenue, Hove, BN3 2LS; or email educationandinclusion@brighton-hove.gov.uk. Please include the detail of your complaint and the action you have taken to try to resolve the matter. If the school’s policy has an LA stage, this is to review the processes followed rather than revisiting the complaint itself.

If the school does not have an LA stage within their complaints policy; or if they do, and you have been through the LA stage but remain dissatisfied, you can refer your complaint to the Secretary of State for Education by completing an online form to register your complaint by following this link: https://www.education.gov.uk/form/school-complaints-form. This link also contains advice and guidance about how to register your complaint.

You will then receive a confirmation email from the Department for Education which will contain a case number for your reference. The DfE will then get back to you when they have looked into your complaint.

What do I do if I am unhappy about a school refusing to offer my child a place?

If your child has been refused a place at the school you have chosen, you have the right to appeal against the decision.You should contact the School Admissions Team for an appeals form and for further advice on the appeal procedure in community schools and for information about school vacancies in Brighton & Hove. E-mail the Schools Admissions Team [schooladmissions@brighton-hove.gov.uk] or telephone (01273) 293653.

How to complain about a university or college

You first need to take up your complaint locally. The university or college can tell you how to do that. Most complaints can be resolved quickly in this way. If you are not satisfied after that, some universities and colleges will allow someone outside the organisation to look at the case. You can get details from the university or college.