The Department for Education (DfE) has been hit with an alarming rise in complaints made against schools, with the figure more than tripling over the past three years.
There were more than 4,500 complaints made to the department in the period between August 2014 and July 2015, a dramatic rise on the previous 12 months, during which 1,900 complaints were made.
There were only around 1,500 complaints between 2012 and 2013, meaning that reported grievances have surged by more than 300 per cent in 36 months.
It’s possible that this sudden rise could be a side-effect of the growing number of schools converting to academy status. The DfE is directly responsible for handling issues with academies, while complaints about local authority-maintained schools are sent to councils.
According to an annual survey of customers complaints published by the DfE, most complainants are parents with concerns over the treatment of their children, though issues including bullying, special educational needs and perceived school misconduct were all represented.
The DfE has a number of school-complaint case managers who deal with individual cases, but the customer satisfaction survey from this year revealed that just under two thirds of complainants were “dissatisfied overall” with how they were treated.
Respondents to the survey said “a better level of communication” was needed, and that cases should be handled more “thoroughly”.
Other participants in the survey said they wanted their complaints to be taken more seriously, and for the department to show more transparency.