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A "gap" in the complaints system?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by MartinNicholson, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. There seems to be a curious gap in the way complaints about a school get investigated. In my case a complaint was made about a non-academy school. The school have declined to comment on the matter despite having been given several opportunities to do so and the LA claim they have no power to investigate.
    Not a minor matter either!
     
  2. Time, as they say, is a finite resource.
    I'm torn two ways. My heart is telling me that no GB should be allowed to break the law (the breach isn't in dispute, who should be held responsible is the issue).
    My head is telling me that since the finger of suspicion points firmly in the direction of the people who would also be sitting on any internal complaints committee that I am wasting my time communicating further with the school. I can see that I could spend lots of time escalating the matter without any real chance of substantive action being taken. Is it worth it?
     
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Lead commenter Forum guide

    Only you can answer that Martin.
     
  4. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    It depends whether or not you can live with yourself if you know, but do nothing. You have given no indication of the nature of the issue (and nor should you). However, it is not difficult to think of examples in which individuals may suffer greatly as a consequence of such law-breaking.
    If you know, and you do nothing, you are colluding with the behaviour you find reprehensible. Individuals, be they teachers, students or other stakeholders, may suffer as a consequence. If the local authority wishes to distance itself, you collude with it, too.
    You can have impact, if you choose. It requires not taking 'No' for an answer. You may need to involve your Member of Parliament and get to the Secretary of State that way, but it can be done. I managed to get my MP to get SoS to take action when I learned that it was possible for a local authority's legal department to put pressure on the GTC(E) to quietly drop referrals of serious misconduct made directly to the regulator.
    Attributed to Edmund Burke, I believe, is the statement: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
     
  5. Time for an update!
    Both the Local Authority and the Department for Education have agreed that the Governing Body acted in breach of the law. Both have provided me with full details of how my complaint SHOULD have been dealt with but both accept that they cannot MAKE the Governing Body act in this way. I have not received either an explanation or apology from the school - nor I suspect ever will.
    So as far as the ordinary members of the GB are concerned they are in a state of blissful ignorance about the whole affair. They don't even know a complaint was received.
     
  6. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    MN As it is impossible to know what you origianl complaint was with the school was about, can I direct you to sections 496 & 497 of the Education act that deals with illegalities of what GB's can get up to and what the SoS can do about it. RW some time back remarked that GB's now can be a law unto themselves with little redress which is very true. One angle that can be used to sharpen the thoughts of GB's who break the law is to threaten a Judicial Review on them. The Department of Education are pretty useless at sorting these problems out even though they have the power to do so. Some remark that they are not fit for pupose and from stories I have heard I would agree with this assessment.
     
  7. Presumably who you complain to further would depend upon the nature of the breach. I don't see why you can't give an indication or outline of that breach, esp if the fact that a breach took place has already been widely accepted by (amongst others) the LA.
    The options for proceeding are different if the matter relates to say a child protection issue or the GB simply failing to provide proper accounts or responding in time to a FOI request.


     
  8. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    In my experience (which is all I have to go on) DfE civil servants are useless bureaucrats. If you consider the issue to be of sufficient import, get to the SoS via your MP. Once you finally get his ear, he listens and responds. I am sure he would be delighted to sweep away this corrupt GB and turn the school into another academy [​IMG]
     
  9. I wrote to my MP last week and it will be interesting to see what he says to say on the issue. I will keep colleagues here informed of events!
     
  10. Can I suggest tat if the school won't follow the correct procedures, the OP shouldn't either.

    Go straight to the local press who love front page local arguments

    Bet something happens after you do.
     
  11. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    Crispness - I have no doubt that any governor attempting a remedy through the local press would find themeselves up for suspension by breaking the school's code of conduct.
     
  12. That would only happen if the GB knew who did it.

    And anyway, who said the original complaint was from a governor?
     
  13. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    I have assumed correctly or incorrectly that MN is a governor, if not then yes the local press would be useful. If MN is a governor then if he did it anonymously then that would also be useful. He could also ask his loved ones or a good friend to pass the story on. There are most certainly real life cases of Governors who have been suspended up and down the country for talking to the press.
     
  14. Talking to the press is not an offence per-se .

    The offence is in bringing the school into disrepute, or breaching confidentiality. See the legislation here.

    And of course, such judgements would need to be 'reasonable' in legal terms. There is at least one judicial review that I'm aware of where a school governor successfully challenged a suspension, although admittedly, that was on a technical point.
     

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