Guidance for local-authority-maintained schools about setting up or reviewing complaints procedures.


Best practice guidance for school complaints procedures 2020


Model complaints procedure

ODT, 35.4KB

This file is in an OpenDocument format

Model policy for managing serial and unreasonable complaints


This file is in an OpenDocument format


This guidance:

  • contains information on what governing bodies of maintained schools should do
  • sets out the legal duties with which they must comply

It’s aimed at governing bodies in all maintained schools and maintained nursery schools in England. This includes:

  • community, foundation or voluntary schools
  • community or foundation special schools
  • nursery schools which are maintained by a local authority and are not special schools

It may also be helpful for:

  • school leaders
  • school staff
  • local authorities
  • dioceses

It’s not intended for use by:

  • academies
  • free schools
  • further education or other post-16 institutions that are not attached to a maintained school
  • independent schools
  • private nursery schools

See guidance on how to complain about a school.

The department acknowledges the contribution of members of the Advisory Group on Governance, ACE Education and also Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex and Dorset local authorities in the production of these documents. Some of the content is reproduced, by kind permission, from their model complaints procedures.

Published 6 January 2016
Last updated 9 April 2020 + show all updates

  1. Added information to the best practice guidance about handling complaints during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

  2. Added new information on the use of independent governors and duplicate complaints.

  3. Replaced best practice advice with an updated version for 2019.

  4. First published.