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No matter how experienced you are, all school leaders receive complaints from time to time. These can range from informal, verbal comments up to formal, written complaints and from minor to major concerns.

Here are some ways to deal with complaints!

1. Listen

Let the complainant have their say. Make it clear that you have heard the complaint. Say something like, “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll follow this up and get back to you by …” Name a time that is easy to achieve and contact the complainant with your progress report towards resolution of the issue.

2. Investigate

Depending on the nature of the complaint, you will probably not need to respond straight away, other than to thank the complainant for letting you know. However, if you deem the complaint to be serious, for example if it involves the safety of a child or staff member, you may need to take immediate action before you can begin an investigation.

3. Inform where necessary

Let everyone who needs to know, know what is going on. Any staff member who is the subject of a complaint must be told about it and any likely investigation of it as soon as the complaint is received and keep it confidential.

4. Seek to resolve the issue

Keep a record of everything.

Consider all possible resolutions and possible unintended outcomes. You might want to discuss these with a trusted colleague or your sector representative group. Meet with the complainant to convey your decision or to discuss the options for resolving the issue.

5. Check your school policy and seek advice

You need a process ready to follow that follows the principles of natural justice and is respectful. If you're new to the school, check whether there's a policy for dealing with complaints and when it was last reviewed – every three years is an ideal goal. If there is no policy, develop one with your board of trustees.

Everyone goes through their hard days but being professional and following rules will help you with complaints!