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Making a Complaint


Rotherham SENDIASS works to prevent disagreements; the service adopts a neutral role in situations involving disagreements and complaints. Emphasis is placed on keeping open lines of communication and resolving disagreements before it becomes necessary to use formal procedures. Many disagreements can be sorted out by talking with the school, college, local authority, or for health services, the Clinical Commissioning Group. Where this is not possible you may wish to follow the formal complaints process where your complaint will be fully considered. This factsheet deals with complaints in relation to Education, Health and Social Care separately.

The SEND Code of Practice 0-25 explains that;

Parents and young people should be given information and, where necessary, support so that they can take part in decision-making and complaints processes. (11.1)

Who can make a complaint?

Anyone can make a complaint, although they are more commonly made by parents on a child or young person’s behalf. Children and young people can submit a complaint in their own right if they want.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable, for example this may relate to a service you are dissatisfied with. When making a complaint you should ensure that you;

  • are clear and to the point
  • detail the issues you wish to complain about, being factually accurate
  • include any information or evidence to support your complaint and;
  • indicate what your desired outcome would be.

Complaints about Education

Complaints regarding educational issues can be made to a number of organisations each of which have different functions. The appropriate way to challenge some decisions regarding EHC plans may be through mediation and Tribunal Appeal which are detailed in separate factsheet. You can complain about education direct to the;

Early years provider/School/College

Each school will have their own complaints policy which details how to make a complaint and the procedure which will be undertaken. This policy can usually be found on the settings website alternatively you can request a copy from them (there may be a small photocopying charge for this)

Local Authority

All complaints about schools/colleges are dealt with by the setting themselves and you should complain to them directly. However the local authority can look into complaints made about other educational issues such as admissions, exclusions and transport. You can find further information on the council website

Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)

The LGO can investigate complaints against local authorities where the complaint has not been resolved by the local authority’s own complaints procedure. There is an expectation that before a parent makes a complaint to the LGO that the parent should first exhaust the local authority’s complaints process. The LGO requires that complaints are made within 12 months of the parent becoming aware of the issue. There are 2 stages to the assessment and if the complaint does not pass the first stage of assessment it will be closed that this point. If the complaint proceeds through both stages the LGO expects all investigations to be concluded within 52 weeks. They may recommend remedies such as asking the organisation to provide a service/decision it should have made before or an apology for example. You can find further information at www.lgo.org.uk/

Department for Education (Maintained Schools) / Education Funding Agency (Academy’s) / Skills Funding Agency (Colleges)

Complaints should be made through the school/colleges own complaints procedure in the first instance. You can find further information on the www.gov.uk website

Complaints to Ofsted

Ofsted can only consider complaints in relation to early years and local authority maintained schools and academies as a whole rather than in relation to individual children and where the parent has exhausted the setting own complaints procedure.

Complaint to Secretary of State

The Secretary of state has the power to hear complaints about maintained schools and local authorities which behaved unreasonably or unlawfully (e.g. failed to carry out one of its legal duties) however it cannot intervene where there is another remedy available e.g. SEND Tribunal appeal. The Secretary of State can issue directions to remedy the matter.


Complaints about Health

If you are unhappy with the care or services you have received under an EHC Plan, there are two ways that you can share your thoughts with the NHS, by giving feedback or by making a complaint.

A complaint can be made to either the healthcare provider (e.g. hospital or GP surgery) or the commissioner of the service (which will depend on the service you wish to make a complaint about). Anybody can make a complaint and this should be done within 12 months of the incident. You can find further information or if you would welcome support in making a complaint about health services you may find it useful to make contact with Healthwatch Rotherham, where their advocates can support you through the NHS Complaints process. You can find further information about this service at www.healthwatchrotherham.org.uk and you can reach them on 01709 717130.

If following making a complaint you are not happy with how your complaint has been dealt with or the response provided you can contact the Independent Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). The PHSO is the final stage for unresolved complaints therefore there is the expectation that you complain to the organisation that you are unhappy with first. The role of the PHSO is to investigate complaints when you believe there has been an injustice or hardship because a government department/other public organisation or the NHS has not acted properly or has provided a poor service. You can find further information about the PHSO along with a complaint form at www.ombudsman.org.uk or you can contact them on 0345 015 4033.


Complaints about Social Care

There are two separate complaints procedures with regards to Social Care depending on whether you wish to complain about Children and Young People Services or Adult Services both of which can be found here.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to have a Children’s Services complaints procure which involves three stages;

Stage 1 - Local Resolution

You can make a complaint in writing or verbally on 01709 382121 after which you will receive a response from the line/service manager. The local authority must consider and try to resolve the complaint as soon as reasonably practicable but within 10 working days. The local authority may extend this period by another 10 days where they consider the complaint to be complex. If the matter is resolved the local authority must write to you confirming the agreed resolution.

Stage 2 - Investigation

If the matter has not been resolved at stage 1 then the complaint can be escalated to stage two which involves an investigation by an independent person. The investigation should be completed and the response sent to you within 25 working days. If the matter is complex the local authority may inform you in writing of the date (being no later than 65 working days) by which they will have concluded their investigation. The independent person may meet with you to discuss your complaint and they will prepare a written report for the service manager with recommendations.

Stage 3 - Review Panel

If you are still unhappy with the response received you can ask (within 20 working days on which you receive the local authority’s response) for your complaint to be considered by a Review Panel. The Review Panel consists of three independent people and the panel must meet within 30 days of the local authority receiving a request. They will listen to all parties, focus on reaching resolution, make recommendations and identify any consequent injustice. The Review Panel must produce a written report for the local authority with 5 working days of the meeting and the local authority must respond within 15 working days.

Complaint’s regarding Adult Services can be made to the Complaints department on 01709 382121. Unlike complaints regarding Children’s Services the law does not prescribe a particular process that the local authority has to follow. The local authority has its own complaints policy which can be found here.


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