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If you’re not happy with the school’s response
If, after meeting with the school, you are not happy with their response to the bullying, you can make a formal complaint. All schools must have a complaints policy. This should be available on the school website, or you can ask the school for a copy.
Make your complaint in writing and say clearly that you are making a formal complaint. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
We have made a letter template for you to use when writing to complain.
What happens after you’ve complained
There is usually a timescale by which you should receive a response to the complaint.
The school governors or academy trust will often appoint a sub-committee to meet and hear your complaint and decide what action to take. Usually you can attend the sub-committee and take someone with you for support. The head teacher or another teacher from the school will usually also attend.
In some complaints policies, school governors or the academy trust will only accept ‘paper submissions’, meaning written complaints rather than meeting with you and hearing your complaint.
If you’re not happy with the result
If you not happy with the outcome, or the timescales are not met, different options apply depending on where you live in the UK.
Some local authorities may have a role in reviewing complaints in their schools. Check the school complaints policy to see if this is the case.
The Department for Education can review complaints when you have been through the school’s formal complaints process.
You may be able to raise your concerns with the local authority (LA). The LA will not interfere with a governing body’s decision unless the school did not act properly to investigate the complaint.
You may be able to complain to the Education and Library Board or Council for Catholic Maintained Schools in certain circumstances. You can get legal advice from the Children’s Law Centre NI.
You can complain to the Education Authority. Free advice to help you do this is available from the Scottish Child Law Centre.
Taking legal advice
You may decide to seek legal advice if things are still not resolved. Legal action should be seen as the last resort. If you are thinking of taking legal action, seek specialist advice first. Legal action can be a costly and lengthy process and getting legal funding is very difficult.
If your child cannot attend their current school
- If your child is too anxious to go to school because of the bullying, speak to your GP. You may risk a fine or court action if your child is absent from school.
- Moving schools – this option isn’t for everyone, and it can be difficult to find a new school, but you may want to look at some other options.
- Home schooling – you have the legal right to home educate your child, but you must provide education that is suitable to the age, ability and aptitude of your child and to any special educational needs they have.
- Alternative provision – this is organised by the local authority for pupils who, because of exclusion, illness or other reasons, would not otherwise receive education.
If you are considering any of these steps, call our freephone helpline and speak to one of our education specialists for advice.