The Department of Education and Training is committed to treating everyone with dignity and respect and encourages good communication between parents and schools.

Schools, regions and the central office act in accordance with the Department’s parent complaints policy and processes when managing your complaint. Further information about the policy including everyone’s role in resolving concerns and complaints can be found on the Department’s website.

All concerns and complaints lodged with the Department about a Government school are addressed in line with relevant professional and administrative standards and in accordance with obligations and rights afforded under Victorian legislative and regulatory frameworks. These include the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 and the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

 

KOOWEERUP SECONDARY COLLEGE : PARENT COMPLAINTS POLICY

Preamble

The Department of Education and Training and Kooweerup Secondary College recognise that it is in the best interest of students for there to be a trusting and cooperative relationship between parent and school. Complaints are an important way for the school community to provide information and feedback to a school. Every complaint provides a valuable opportunity for reflection and learning.

The Department recognises a parent’s right to make a complaint and its responsibility to provide a framework within which efforts can be made to resolve complaints.

It is the Department’s belief that parent complaints are best handled at the school level in an environment where parents feel able to speak up about issues concerning the education of their children.

Purpose of this policy

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that:

  • the school meets its obligation to respond to parent complaints in a fair, effective and efficient manner
  • parents are informed of how they can make a complaint at their child’s school.

This policy does not apply to matters where rights and processes for review and appeal already exist. These include:

  • student expulsions
  • complaints about staff that if upheld would constitute misconduct
  • student critical incident matters

Guiding principles

The complaint-handling process must reflect the following guiding principles, which are informed by the Australian/New Zealand Standard – Guidelines for complaint management in organizations (AS/NZS 10002:2014).

Visibility Information about how and where to make a complaint, as well as how a complaint will be handled, should be regularly publicised within the school community.

The actions taken to respond to a complaint should be well documented and include the reasons underpinning any decisions made.

Accessibility Information about how to make a complaint and the school’s procedures when responding to a complaint should be easily accessible. The complaint-handling process should be flexible and include the ability to make a complaint in person, by phone and in writing. Support should also be given to parents with special needs, including translations, interpreters and enabling a parent to seek the services of an advocate.
Responsiveness Receipt of written complaints should be acknowledged by communicating with parents as soon as possible. Complaints should be addressed promptly and the parents kept informed of the progress of their complaint when the matter is complex and will take time to bring to resolution.
Objectivity Each complaint must be treated in an equitable, objective and unbiased manner.
Cost There should be no cost to the parent for access to the complaint-handling process at the school, region or central office.
Protection of Privacy Personally identifiable information concerning the parent should be actively protected from disclosure except where needed in relation to the complaint. This means that the complaint should only be discussed with those directly involved in the complaint-handling process.
Student-focused The school should be open to feedback including complaints and should show a commitment to resolving complaints with the educational wellbeing of students as the first priority.
Accountability Schools are required to have a fair, effective and efficient complaint-handling process. Schools are accountable, both internally and externally, for their decision making and complaint-handling performance. Schools need to be able to provide explanations and reasons for their decisions.
Continual improvement Parent complaint-handling procedures should be regularly reviewed for improvement. Complaint data and feedback should be used to identify recurrent themes and to implement improvement measures where a need is identified.

General information about making complaints

Parents of students who have a complaint should, in the first instance, make the complaint to the school, except when the complaint is about the principal of the school. Complaints about school principals should be referred to the appropriate region.

When addressing a complaint it is expected that parents and school personnel will:

  • show respect and understanding of each other’s point of view
  • operate within applicable legislation
  • acknowledge that their goal is to achieve an outcome acceptable to all parties
  • act in good faith and in a calm and courteous manner
  • recognise that all parties have rights and responsibilities which must be balanced.

 

How do I raise an issue or make a complaint?

The school should always be your first point of contact. Schools need to know if you have any concerns about your child’s education. Teaching and learning works best when parents and teachers talk to each other and work together to solve any problems.

You are always welcome to ask about and request a copy of your school’s policies and procedures.

You may raise an issue in person, by phone or in writing.

  • You are welcome to ring the General Office on 59971444 to find out who to contact.
  • Any appointments to speak with school staff about a complaint should be arranged through the school office.
  • COMPASS can be used to email your child’s teachers.
  • 24/7 access is available through the College website: CONTACT US.

If you still have a concern after talking to your child’s teacher/s you may want to speak to the Assistant Principal or Principal.

How will complaints be handled?

The actions taken to respond to a complaint will be documented and include the reasons underpinning any decisions made.

Receipt of written complaints will be acknowledged by communicating with parents as soon as possible. Parents will be kept informed of the progress of their complaint when the matter is complex and will take time to bring to resolution.

Personally identifiable information concerning the parent will be actively protected from disclosure except where needed in relation to the complaint. This means that the complaint will only be discussed with those directly involved in the complaint-handling process.

Protected disclosures

Where a parent has real and substantial concerns that, as a result of raising a complaint, they may suffer a detriment and the allegations relate to corrupt conduct, they may have access to protection under the provisions of the Protected Disclosure Act 2012 (PD Act). The PD Act defines the types of complaints that may be accepted as complaints under this Act. For further information, see: Protected Disclosure Act 2012 – Making and Handling Protected Disclosures

Unreasonable complainant conduct

All complaints should be considered in accordance with the school’s complaint-handling procedures including when parent behaviour is thought to be unreasonable.

While a decision maker considers a range of factors and views, they may at any point in the process outlined in this policy consider a parent’s behaviour to be unreasonable. In these circumstances, it is appropriate for the decision maker to communicate the basis on which the conclusion was made to the parent in writing. The decision maker may also indicate an acceptable procedure for future communication with the parent about their complaint.

The Department considers behaviour to be unreasonable when:

  • it is clearly and significantly outside the expectations of cooperation, courtesy and respect
  • it calls for staff resources and time unjustified by the nature or significance of the complaint
  • an action or complaint is brought without merit, often to cause annoyance to another person
  • it is oriented towards conflict.

Anonymous complaints

The Department requires all complaints to be considered. However, it recognises that its staff might not be able to fully consider a complaint if they cannot effectively liaise with the parent. Furthermore, anonymous complaints raise natural justice issues for respondents who have a right to know particulars of the allegations made against them.

Department staff responsible for handling parent complaints should determine, in consultation with other relevant personnel from the central office or region, the extent to which an anonymous complaint received by the school, region or central office shall be investigated.

 

When to contact the region

If the matter is not resolved by speaking to the Assistant Principal or Principal at your school, you can contact the community liaison officer at your region who will assist you and the school to find a solution.

South-Eastern Victoria: General enquiries       (03) 8765 5600

When to contact the central office

If the matter remains unresolved after discussions with your region you can send your complaint, in writing, to:

Deputy Secretary, Regional Services Group

C/o Manager, Complaints

Performance Division

GPO Box 4367, Melbourne 3001

E: school.complaints@edumail.vic.gov.au

Victorian Ombudsman

If, after all avenues for resolution of your complaint have been explored, and you are not satisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled by the Department, you are able to contact the Victorian Ombudsman on (03) 9613 6222.

E: ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au

Further Information

For further information about school policies, see the Department’s School Policy and Advisory Guide, School Policy and Advisory Guide (www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/pages/spag.aspx)