This Policy is intended to be used in conjunction with the School’s Complaints Policy. Taken together, these documents set out how the School will always seek to work with parents, carers and others who have a legitimate complaint to resolve any difficulty. Sample letters are included within this document.
In cases of persistent complaints or harassment the School may implement the Persistent Complaints/Harassment Policy outlined below.
Aims of the Policy
uphold the standards of courtesy and reasonableness that should characterise all communication between the School and persons who wish to express a concern or pursue a complaint;
support the well-being of pupils, staff and everyone else who has legitimate interest in the work of the School, including governors and parents;
deal fairly, honestly and properly with persistent complainants and those who harass members of staff or others in school while ensuring that other stakeholders suffer no detriment.
What is ‘unreasonable behaviour’?
Actions which are out of proportion to the nature of the complaint, persistent – even when the Complaints Procedure has been exhausted – personally harassing, unjustifiably repetitious; and/or
An insistence on pursuing unjustified complaints and/or unrealistic outcomes to justified complaints; and/or
An insistence on pursuing justifiable complaints in an unreasonable manner eg using abusive or threatening language, making complaints in public, refusing to attend appointments to discuss the complaint.
What is ‘harassment’?
Harassment is considered to be the unreasonable pursuit of issues or complaints, particularly if the matter appears to be pursued in a way intended to cause personal distress rather than to seek a resolution.
What and who is a ‘persistent complainant’?
For the purpose of this Policy a persistent complainant may be a parent/carer or member of the public who complains in an unreasonable manner and/or who engages in unreasonable behaviour whilst pursuing a complaint.
The complaint may be made either formally or informally, or frequently raises issues that the complainant considers to be within the remit of the School and whose behaviour is unreasonable. Such behaviour may be characterised by:
actions which are obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific and/or repetitious; and/or
prolific correspondence or excessive e-mail or telephone contact about a concern or complaint: and/or
an insistence upon pursuing unmeritorious complaints and/or unrealistic or unreasonable outcomes: and/or
an insistence upon pursuing meritorious complaints in an unreasonable manner.
For the purpose of this policy, harassment is the unreasonable pursuit of such actions as above in such a way that they:
appear to be targeted over a significant period of time on one or more members of school staff; and/or
cause ongoing distress to individual member(s) of school staff; and/or
have a significant adverse effect on the whole/parts of the school community; and/or
are pursued aggressively.
The School will expect parents/carers/members of the public to:
refrain from discussing the complaint
refrain from making the complaint public via telephone, e-mail or any other media network facility
behave in a reasonable manner
refrain from engaging unreasonably
refrain from behaviour that could impact upon the school, pupils or staff in any detrimental way.
Throughout any complaints process complainants can expect certain responses from the school and the school can expect complainants to behave appropriately. See further information at Appendix A.
The School’s Actions in Cases of Persistent Complaints or Harassment
The School will take the following consecutive steps as necessary if the complainant’s behaviour is not modified:
(a) verbally inform the complainant that his/her behaviour is considered to be becoming unreasonable/unacceptable and may be considered to fall under the terms of this policy;
(b) inform the complainant in writing that his/her behaviour is now considered by the School to be becoming unreasonable/unacceptable (see Model Letter 1);
(c) inform the complainant in writing that his/her behaviour is now considered by the School to fall under the terms of this policy (see Model Letter 2);
(d) inform the complainant that all meetings with a member of staff will be conducted with a second person present and that notes of meetings may be taken in the interests of all parties (see Model Letter 3);
(e) inform the complainant that, except in emergencies, all communication from the complainant to the School should be carried out in writing (see Model Letter 4);
(f) (in the case of physical or verbal aggression) consider warning the complainant about being banned from the School site; or proceed straight to a temporary ban. (In these circumstances advice may be sought from the Local Authority School and Governor Unit, telephone number 01792-636550);
(g) Consider taking advice from the City and County of Swansea on requesting an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (with reference to Legal Department for instigating Anti harassment procedure/injunction, telephone number 01792-636000).
Legitimate new complaints will still be considered even if the person making them is, or has been, subject to the School’s Persistent Complaints/Harassment Policy. In these circumstances advice may be sought from the Local Authority (contact School and Governor Unit, telephone number 01792-636550).
If a complainant’s persistent complaining/harassing behaviour is modified and is then resumed at a later date within a reasonable period of time, the School may resume the process identified above at an appropriate level. In these circumstances advice may be sought from the Local Authority (contact School and Governor Unit, telephone number 01792-636550).
The School will review as appropriate, and at a minimum once every school year, any sanctions applied in the context of this Policy.
The School has policies in place to protect all members of the public from unsatisfactory service. The School respects the rights of individuals or groups to make requests or to complain and have established procedures to facilitate this. However, this must be done in an appropriate and reasonable manner. This policy seeks to ensure that this is achieved and that the rights of everyone attending the School for any reason are respected.
This guidance is based on an original developed by Cambridgeshire County Council, to whom the City and County of Swansea gratefully acknowledges permission to modify and adopt it. Thanks, are also extended to Cwm Glas Primary School and Gowerton Comprehensive School for sharing information and agreement that the final document can be disseminated to Swansea schools.
This will be reviewed when required policy