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Complaints-How To Respond

Guest Spiral

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Guest Spiral

Hi everyone,


just after a littlle advice/support.


We've had a dad complain. He first of all spoke to me and I thought we'd sorted it out, then he returned a couple of weeks later and complained again, stating he had wanted an email acknowledging his first complaint and then popped in the sentence he had thought of going to ofsted.


I have been unable to reply without speaking with my chair (who has been away on business), and our policy states a written reply is the last thing we do.


Dad has come back in and complained again - this time in a letter.


The committee are back together this week (everyone's been sick or away so there wasn't anyone to respond anyway), but I'm concerned as to how we should now proceed).


I am concerned that if we address each item as mentioned on their letter we will not answer as they wish and they'll get even grumpier!


What are your thoughts, should we skirt around a little and not give them anything concrete? I think the reason I'm nervous is that they have got so many things wrong it would infuriate them if they were corrected.



Spiral :-(

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I'd correct them. I'd write my response bullet pointing each complaint, what we do now, how we could change things or why things have to stay as they are.

Be very matter of fact about it and stick to the wording in your policies. :1b

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Have you logged the verbal complaint anywhere? If not, you could do that now, detailing the conversation you had. I would also put the bit about him expressing annoyance that he didn't receive an email, even though this had not been agreed at the discussion.

Then, I'd log this written letter too. That will bring you up to date.


Addressing each of his complaints is really the only thing you can do. If you can explain his misunderstandings simply, and in neutral language, you can minimise the risk of him getting even more angry. But even if he does, you still have to address his concerns. I think skirting around the issues won't make things go away. Bite the bullet, stay calm and polite, and good luck. :1b

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Good advice above.

Do you have a complaints policy/procedure as then you will be able to follow your policy, which is there to guide and protect you? Always record complaints and how they were dealt with, you might even go so far as giving the parent a copy. This Father has had an initial and informal discussion, still felt unhappy, so has complained again and obviously wishes to have something in writing now.

Any complaint has to be responded to, and if he has put it in writing I would respond in writing. If you need time then acknowledge his complaint, in writing, and say that it is being investigated and a written response will be sent in due course. He will only get more annoyed if he feels that he isn't being responded to. You may have a time limits set for responses in your policy.

If he did go to OFSTED they would want to see that procedures were followed, as well as do their own investigation, which may of course support you.

These things are so upsetting aren't they when you know that you do everything you can to support the children? I hope it is all resolved soon.

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Oh Spiral I really feel for you. :(


You've been given great advice already, and the only other things I would add is that you need to let him know that you are taking his complaint very seriously and that you will be following your complaints procedure (and perhaps you could photocopy this procedure and include it with your letter so that you are seen to be sharing this to show him what will happen next).


Also, perhaps you could consider getting an early apology in - not because you think you have done anything wrong, but simply because you're sorry that he is unhappy. Sometimes parents just want to have their unhappiness acknowledged and perhaps once he knows what is going to happen next, and that you want to address his concerns, he will decide not to take it further.


I imagine your procedure calls for a full internal enquiry followed by a written report to the parent. If he goes to Ofsted they will want to see this, as well as your policies relating to complaints, and those covering the issues he is complaining about. Depending on what your complaints procedure says, perhaps for now you need to acknowledge his letter, state that you're carrying out an investigation and give him the date by which you will get back to him with the results. This will give you time to think about the points he has raised, get everyone's statements if that is appropriate, and formulate your response.


Good luck - hope it is all resolved soon.

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Guest Spiral

Hi everyone,


thank you for your responses. Has been discussed at a committee meeting and a letter sent responding to dad, however, we decided not to be too zealous in our response as we all feel dad will blow his nut if he realised he's got it all very wrong. From the start this dad has been difficult and has owed the staff a few apologies!


Now he's accused me of all sorts of things, but he's got sooooo much wrong that we've agreed it would be offensive to highlight it all in a letter.


Hopefully it'll calm down soon! I must admit I feel very backed up by the staff and the committee.


Thankyou to everyone for your responses - fingers crossed that episode two is cancelled!


Spiral :-0

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