Blackheath Conservatoire

Complaints Policy and Procedure

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This policy is designed to inform customers, parents and staff of Blackheath Conservatoire of the procedures for dealing with complaints. This policy and procedure will be relied upon in respect of all complaints by customers, students and parents except in respect of child protection allegations. These are covered by a separate Child Protection Policy, and all staff should be aware of, and bound by, the processes and stipulations of this procedure.

For staff, this policy should be read in conjunction with the staff Code of Conduct, which sets out in detail the Conservatoire’s expectations and regulations relating to the standard of conduct and behaviour we expect of all teaching and support staff.

In summary, the Conservatoire expects that the majority of concerns will be resolved informally and we will use all reasonable endeavours to resolve any complaints or concerns that are raised informally. If informal channels fail to resolve the issue, a formal complaints procedure about any matter other than a child protection allegation, must be given in writing to the Managing Director and will be dealt with under the relevant parts of the Complaints Policy and Procedure (the “Policy”).

Aims of this Policy

  • Every complaint shall receive fair and proper consideration and a timely response.
  • We will do all we can to resolve the concern and to ensure the complainant is happy with their or their child’s experience at the Conservatoire.
  • All complaints and expressions of concern will be treated seriously and confidentially. Once a complaint is in process, confidentiality is deemed binding on all parties to that complaint. This is to protect all those involved while the issues are resolved.
  • Correspondence, statements and records will remain confidential, except in so far as any legal obligation prevails

Our complaints procedure will:

  • Encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible
  • Be easily accessible and publicised
  • Be simple to understand and use
  • Be impartial
  • Be non-adversarial
  • Allow swift handling with established time-limits for action and keeping people informed of progress
  • Ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary
  • Respect confidentiality
  • Address the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary
  • Provide information to the Conservatoire’s senior management team and Trustees so that services can be improved

Stage one – informal resolution

  1. The Conservatoire aims to resolve complaints and concerns efficiently  and informally.
  2. If customers, students or parents have a complaint, they should contact [who?} [their key contact person at] the Conservatoire, usually the tutor. In many cases, the matter will be resolved straightaway to the complainant’s satisfaction.
  3. The key contact person should fill out a complaint form Annex A.
  4. If speaking with their key contact person at the Conservatoire does not resolve the matter or if it is not appropriate for the complainant to raise the issue with their usual contact person, the complainant can escalate the issue to the Managing Director.
  5. The Managing Director will then ascertain who within the organisation is best placed to deal with the complaint. The Managing Director will in most cases refer the complaint to a member of the senior management team unless he/she deems it appropriate for him/her to deal with the matter personally.
  6. The Conservatoire will use its reasonable endeavours to resolve any informal complaints within ten working days of them being raised, except where they are raised out of Conservatoire term times, when the Conservatoire will use all reasonable endeavours to resolve them as soon as possible.
  7. Should the matter not be resolved as referred to above, or in the event that the appointed person and the complainant or complainant’s representative (parent/guardian) fail to reach a satisfactory resolution, the complainant or their representative will be advised to proceed with their complaint in accordance with Stage Two of this Policy.
  8. All parties involved in the complaint (including any member of staff who is a subject of a complaint) will be kept informed of the progress and outcomes of the complaint to the extent this is appropriate, and supported as appropriate during and subsequent to, the process.

Stage Two – Formal Resolution

If the complaint cannot be resolved on an informal basis (as set out in paragraphs five and six of stage one above), then the complainant or their representative should put their complaint in writing to the Conservatoire’s Managing Director setting our clear details of the incident and identifying the remedy they are seeking. 

  1. The Managing Director will delegate responsibility for undertaking the investigation to a member of the Senior Management Team (known as the Investigating Officer) unless he/she deems it appropriate for him/her to deal with the matter personally.
  2. The Managing Director will decide, after considering the complaint, the appropriate course of action to take.
  3. In most cases, the Investigating Officer will meet or speak with the complainant to discuss the matter. If possible, a resolution will be reached at this stage.
  4. The Investigating Officer will use reasonable endeavours to speak to or meet the complainant within ten working days of the formal complaint being received, except where the complaint is received out of Conservatoire term times, when the Investigating Officer will use his/her reasonable endeavours to speak to or meet the complainant as soon as possible.
  5. The Managing Director will investigate the written complaint and will keep a written record of all meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint, whether undertaken by him/her, or by an appointed Investigating Officer from the senior management team as well as a list of any relevant documentation reviewed. The Managing Director or Investigating Officer may nominate a member of staff to take minutes of any meetings or interviews conducted.
  6. Once the Managing Director is satisfied that, so far as is practicable, all of the relevant facts have been established, a decision will be made. Complainants will be informed of this decision in writing, giving reasons for the decision. At his/her discretion, the Managing Director may also arrange to meet the complainant and other parties (particularly any members of Conservatoire staff who were subjects of complaints), to explain the decision and respond in writing.
  7. The Complainant (and other third parties) will not be entitled to the documents produced during the course of the investigation including minutes of interviews and other internal documents.
  8. Where complainants consider that process described above in Stage 2 has not been followed, they have the opportunity to invoke Stage Three below.

Stage Three – Panel Consideration

Where complainants consider that the process pursuant to Stage 2 has not been followed, they have the opportunity to invoke Stage Three below. The complainant may, in writing addressed to the Chair of Trustees, request that their complaint is further considered by a Trustees Panel, made up of three trustees chosen by the Chair of Trustees

  1. This request for further assessment of the complaint will, for the purposes of this procedure, be known as a ‘re-consideration’.
  2. Complainants must lodge their request for re-consideration in writing within ten days of the date of the original decision made in accordance with the Stage Two procedure. The complainant must provide details of their complaint and reasons why they believe the Conservatoire failed to follow the procedure set out in Stage Two along with the remedies sought in respect of each. The complaint must relate to a procedural failure of Stage Two of this Policy to consider the matter consistently with the processes set out in the Policy. It is therefore an appeal on the procedure not on the substance of the case and the panel is not to consider evidence de novo.
  3. The Panel is only obliged to consider the complaint(s) lodged in this submission
  4. The Chair of Trustees or his/her nominee will acknowledge the request for re-consideration within five working days, and inform the complainant of the steps involved in the Complaints Procedure.
  5. The Chair of Trustees or his/her nominee will convene a Panel meeting as soon as possible to consider the matter, normally no later than twenty working days after receipt of the request for re-consideration.
  6. The Panel will consider the complaint and evidence to ascertain whether the complaint was dealt with appropriately in line with the stipulations and procedures set out in this document. Where the Panel considers it necessary, it may require that further particulars of the complaint or any related matter be supplied in advance of the Panel meeting. In such cases all parties will be given the opportunity to submit written evidence to the Panel in support of their complaint, including:
  • Documents to support the complaint(s)
  • Chronology and key dates relating to complaint(s), and/or
  • Written submission setting out the complaint(s) in more detail

This evidence will be considered by the Panel along with the initial submission that was lodged by the complainant. It should be noted that the function of the Panel is to determine whether the Conservatoire’s policies and procedures were adhered to in the course of the investigation.

Although in some circumstances, the Panel may decide to speak in person to the complainant or others, this process is a re-consideration of extant information or clarification of the evidence, and not an opportunity to re-examine the complaint in its entirety. There is therefore no automatic right to speak or appear before the Panel. Such a decision is at the discretion of the Panel.

Procedure relating to the Re-consideration Panel

  1. Evidence will be sent to the Chair of the Panel, who will then circulate documentation to all parties including the Panel members, along with an order of proceedings. All written evidence must be received no later than ten working days in advance of the Panel hearing.
  2. It is for the Panel to decide how to conduct the proceedings of the re-consideration. Wherever possible, the Panel will come to a decision on the complaint immediately without the need for further investigation. Where further investigation is deemed necessary, the Panel will decide how this is to be carried out.
  3. After due consideration of the facts, the Panel will reach a decision, and may make recommendations, which it shall complete within ten working days of the Panel meeting. The decision reached by this Panel is final.
  4. The Panel’s findings will be sent by the Chair of Trustees in writing to the complainant, the Conservatoire, and, where appropriate, the person complained of.

Record-keeping of complaints

  1. An overall record of complaints will be maintained by the Managing Director for monitoring, reporting and quality assurance purposes. All complaints that fall under the informal or formal resolution procedures will be recorded in this record.
  2. With respect to a Stage 1 complaint, the appointed person will make a written record of all concerns and complaints and the date on which they were received (see annex A). These records will be kept for three years after the customer, student or child ceases to be an active member of the Conservatoire.
  3. With respect to Stage 2, the Conservatoire will keep a written record of all formal complaints including records of meetings and interviews held in relation to the complaint, and the Conservatoire’s decision, a record of which will be kept for one year after the customer, student or child ceases to be an active member of the Conservatoire. This record will state if complaints were resolved at the preliminary hearing or if they were taken to the full complaints procedure.
  4. With respect to the Re-consideration panel, the Conservatoire will keep a record of all appeals, decisions and recommendations, which record will be kept for three years after the customer, student or child ceases to be an active member of the Conservatoire

Concluding notes

Monitoring and evaluation

The Board of Trustees will review this policy every two years and assess its implementation and effectiveness. The policy will be promoted and implemented throughout the Conservatoire.