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Reply from school to my complaint letter...what do you think?

(25 Posts)
Chocol8 Thu 26-May-05 22:33:23

Here is a copy of the letter that I recieved in response to my Formal Letter of Complaint to my ds's old school. My letter was nearly 6 pages long and continuously mentioned my ds's special needs and the bullying he encountered on many occasions.

There is no mention of the conversations I had with the headteacher and that she wanted him out of her school. I am DEFINITELY gonna send a copy of this to the LEA and take it further - I find this response laughable at best and highly insulting at worst.

What do you think? By the way, I copied the letter to the NAS, IPSEA, the school improvement advisor and Parent Partnership...I have had no response from any of these (not that that suprises me).

"Further to your letter of complaint dated 21st April which we received in school on 29th April, please accept this letter as my formal reply giving you the findings regarding this complain.

As a parent myself I do share with you the feelings and emotions we have for our children. My son left xxxxxx Juniors in July 2004 to go onto high school, but in the next few years my youngest children will be joining xxxxxx Primary.

Please see below my findings about your concerns with regard to xxxx and the treatment at xxxxxx.

I feel that xxxx made a huge progress throughout his time at xxxxxx and feel that he could have made further progress in his education at xxxxxx.

After the opening of the new xxxxxx Primary school, many new staff members were appointed who might not have known about xxxx's situation a the inital stage.

After meeting with various staff members and looking at various documents, I am confident that the staff have taken the necessary steps to ensure xxxx was receiving the best support in school.

As Mrs xxx has already left the school, I am unable to comment on her professional approach, but I gather that she was not able to provide you with the necessary feedback/support that xxxx required.

As for other staff members I do feel that they tried their best in terms of providing support for xxxxxx, but I am in no doubt that there is always room for improvement.

I am fully aware of your feelings as a parent and the concern you have for your child's future and hope xxxxxx will progress in his education in time to come. I would also like to say that if at any time you wish to bring xxxxxx back to xxxx we would be very happy to assist you. I hope my findings will be satisfactory to you and would like to wish you and your family all the best for the future.

Yours sincerely....."

YogiYahooey Thu 26-May-05 22:54:58

Chocol8, I think it stinks!! I am assuming that you have taken ds out of that school, it sounds like a formal brush under the carpet.
Good luck with your plan of action.

Chocol8 Thu 26-May-05 22:59:36

Thanks Yogi - yes I took ds out of school and he started a new one after Easter. They have encouraged him such alot, so much so, that there is no need for a statement there. He just wasn't getting the care and attention he needed as a child with AS/ADHD. They just saw him as a "naughty child".

It certainly is a right royal brush off. I was spitting feathers this morning, but I will take this further. My issues and concerns have not been taken seriously or been addressed at all.

Gobbledigook Thu 26-May-05 23:20:47

It's pants. It's wishy washy and says nothing.

Jayzmummy Thu 26-May-05 23:33:26

Did you copy the letter to the director of education for your area? if so then i would send hi/her a copy of the letter you have received and ask him/her to fully investigate the problems tha have occured. I am pretty sure you can requset some sort of judicial review with an independant ombudsman looking into your complaint....but dont quote me....I will try and find out for you.

Chocol8 Fri 27-May-05 12:12:09

Thanks Jayzmummy - I am still completely flabbergasted at the response.

You helped me with my original letter and you know how clear it was. In the reply, the head is conspicuous by her absence and none of my issues regarding ds's bullying have been addressed...in fact "wishy washy" is a good term Gobbledigook (as is pants)!

I didn't copy it to the director of education but now (going through the correct procedure) I should write to the Director of LEA with copies of both letters.

Grrrr - I am so mad.

coppertop Fri 27-May-05 13:11:12

It's a load of cr@p IMHO. When/where her children start/leave school is absolutely irrelevant to your complaint. The bit about "staff members might not have known" about your ds is laughable. Surely it's part of her job to make damn sure that they do know these things?? The rest is just a load of drivel and a waste of paper.

MeerkatsUnite Fri 27-May-05 13:42:21

Hi Chocol8,

The letter of reply that this school made is frankly a load of old balls and not even worthy of toilet paper!!!.

I was particularly incensed by the last paragraph inviting your son to go back; as if you'd want to set foot in the place again!!!. I pity all children who attend such a shambles of a school.

Would hope you get a more on the ball response from the Director of Education.

Davros Fri 27-May-05 20:01:52

Maybe its good that the response is so crap, they are just carrying on the same and you have more evidence. Pisser though about having to keep on pursuing it.

Chocol8 Sat 28-May-05 09:04:50

Exactly! Why would I want my ds to set foot back in that awful "school" (read hell hole).

When I called Parent Partnership yesterday and read the response to her, she reckoned that the phrasing "I gather that she was not able to provide you with the necessary feedback/support that xxxx required" and "but I am in no doubt that there is always room for improvement", were the strongest wording she has ever heard for this type of letter - she says it is saying that they have made a mistake.

I told her that as the parent, I can't see it, and I especially don't give a ** about the guys ds's going to this school. Besides which, they are not SN! Grrrr and more grrrr's.

The only staff who would have needed to have known about the AS were his teacher (who I told and lent a book to about it), the Head, I suppose although she didn't have any real contact with the children (luckily), and the SENCO, who denied it and couldn't find it on the record (making me a liar). So all in all, that excuse doesn't wash either.

I called the School Improvement Advisor as I had cc'd him in on the letter and he said he hadn't passed the letter on to the person who it should have been sent to, but I managed to get hold of her yesterday. When I said I was not happy with the response and would persue it she said "good for you", or similar. It looks like the next stage is to go in front of a panel of 3 governors (and take representation) and have a discussion. (ugh, the thought just fills me with dread - especially having to go back to the school).

Would you let this lie, or persue it?

Tessiebear Sat 28-May-05 09:15:26

What a load of flannel!!!!!!
It might as well have said NOTHING!
I am also waiting for a reply letter to my recent letter of complaint to DS's old school .... am expecting much of the same tbh

TheRealMrsF Sat 28-May-05 10:42:13

well.......ahat a load of rubbish!

My firts impresion is !) NO response to all the points you raised...eg no "YOUV SAID THIS....WE REPLY THAT"

and 2) how can they say *"but I am in no doubt that there is always room for improvement"*...that's like saying "ACCEPT YOUR LOT.....life's a bitch...we have no influence on outcomes"

Agrre with J'sM...copy original & this reply to the Director for Education.

Finaly...when i worked...i dealt frequently with customer complaints...and there's no way I would have dared reply in such a bland way...if a customer raised 5 complaints in their letter - then i'd address each point individually.

tillykins Sat 28-May-05 10:51:59

FWIW, I think you should pursue it - you have nothing to lose

ScummyMummy Sat 28-May-05 11:29:58

What sort of response do you want from them? Definitely think about that before you put loads of time and energy into complaining further. I do agree that this response is wishy washy and non-committal btw but think the tone hints at apology slightly. Not good enough perhaps but I think you need to decide why it's not good enough- how would you have liked them to respond? Do you want a more overt apology, a committment to change the way they work, an admission of bad practice on specific points? I think that unless you are clear about what you want to get out of the complaints process it might be better to let it lie.

mfh Sat 28-May-05 13:36:29

ScummyMummy makes a good point. Think what you want to achieve, and if you want to pursue this make clear what you are wanting.

I've had letters like this in response to complaints, and they've been very frustrating. Often, if they just had the decency and honesty to apologize, say that they are really sorry this has happened, and actually say what they are doing to prevent this happening again (not just to your child, but also to others) we would be a lot happier. I've rather come to the conclusion that this will never happen. Heads are right to stick up for their staff, but I think there should be more acknowledgement that things sometimes go wrong.

I had one letter in which the words "I apologise" actually appeared, and I felt like framing it. Actually I threw it out, as I was so angry with the rest of it.

If you decide not to take this further, can I suggest an alternative? I'm sorry, I don't know a lot about the background to this. Do you trust this head? Do you think they genuinely want to help? If so, involve them as much as you can in the future. As a result of many problems, complaining letters, and in the end intervention of governors, our head has taken more responsibility this year for making sure that what is promised actually happens. They shouldn't have to do this, but it is making a big difference. Can you ask the head for a personal commitment to this?

I'm sorry this is such a long post, but it's difficult to express this.

mfh Sat 28-May-05 13:40:01

Oh sorry, I see from reading the thread more thoroughly that you've moved ds. Good for you, though I'm sorry it had to come to that. Ignore my last bit. You can have a clear conscience in going after them if you want to if you have no other children at the school.

Chocol8 Sun 29-May-05 18:05:31

I think the letter is just absurd, and yes very frustrating. I feel that no matter which way I go now, I cannot "win". I certainly will not be receiving an apology from them for the way they treated my ds (as this is apparently quite normal to treat a child in this way), or the way I was ignored and then spoken to by the SEN and the head.

However, I have a bit of a dilemma - I have had the feeling from receiving the letter that it has not been written by the chair of gov's, at least not signed by him as I recognise the writing.

I will have to ignore this feeling until I can find out for definite and write in reply to their "letter" and say that it did not address my concerns and issues. I will then be asked to speak to a panel of 3 governors who know nothing about it where apparently, I have been told by the LEA, that I will be given a fair hearing (!) and can take representation with me (err...definitely!).

The more I think about it, and from what you have written, I feel that I should take it further. MrsF - yes, reasonable and sensible people like us would respond by addressing each point in turn, but this person is obviously not reasonable or sensible.

Davros Sun 29-May-05 18:17:14

Maybe you should just write a very short, simple letter saying "my points have not been addressed adequately, I look forward to seeing whoever blah blah"...

Chocol8 Sun 29-May-05 19:30:51

Yes Davros, that sounds a good idea - I don't have the energy to write a long winded letter right now, so shall reply in as few words as possible and in words of only one syllable so that they can understand (heh, perhaps i'll get a longer letter in reply!!!). Thanks.

Chocol8 Mon 30-May-05 09:12:29

Do you think this is simple enough?

Dear Ms XXXXXX

I received a reply to my formal letter of complaint from Mr XXXX, Chair of Governors on 25th May.

Unfortunately, Mr XXX’s letter does not address my concerns or the issues raised in my letter, therefore I would like my complaint to be heard by a complaints committee of governors.

Please could you let me know when this can be arranged.

Many thanks
Yours sincerely

from the council's website, I understand that the complaints committee will meet within 10 school days from receipt of my letter. "The committee's decision is final" (worrying) and I will be told of its findings within 5 school days of the hearing. Erm, one problem - the woman I spoke to said that I would have to go in front of a panel of 3 governors - this blurb sounds like they will do it without me. What's going on????

Jayzmummy Mon 30-May-05 09:37:49

Yor letter by return sounds excellent. Dont give up on this Choc.

As you know I have had similar experiences and those whom you are questioning will try and wriggle out of this situation as much as they can.

On a totally different matter I pursued a complaint with social services a couple of years ago. To start off with my letters recieved wishy washy responses.....Im sure they were hoping I would go away...HA!!!! If I had not felt so strongly about the damage SS had caused my family then I would have probably fallen for their responses. BUT my concerns were so strong and my hubby and I are the ones who would be left to pick up the pieces in 10-15 years time, when the men in grey suits will be sitting back enjoying their big fat pensions, hubby and I will be putting right the mistakes they have made.Mistakes that not only will affect my family but two other families directly also.

Because we both were so angry and upset at the situation we found ourselves in we didnt lie down and disappear. We kept going. Finally we had our day and as a result our papers were sent to the Law Lords. Adoption policies were changed, Director and Assisitant director of SS were dismissed for gross misconduct. 17 memebers of staff from SS, all holding high ranking positions were demoted and sent for retraining and the lives of thousands of adoptive families have now been made better.....just simply because we could not accept their wishy washy responses.

Go for it.....but you need to be very clear about the out come you want.

You know where I am if you need any help.
JMxxxx

mfh Mon 30-May-05 10:20:48

Chocol8, very restrained and correct, and also gives them no clue as to what you are going to say to the panel. I didn't think these panels of governors were the final say the way it has been suggested to you. I thought you could then take the matter to the LEA?

Jayzummy, well done you. I'm glad you had the strength to see that through, and you will have made a difference for lots of families.

coppertop Mon 30-May-05 10:28:41

That's a good letter, Choc. You have the right to take it to the LEA if you are not satisfied with the decision that the governors make. I'm guessing that when you point this out they will act surprised and say something like "We just meant that the governors have the final decision within the school." Technically they are correct but it's a sneaky and misleading way of wording it IMO.

Chocol8 Mon 13-Jun-05 19:03:35

Just a quick update - I just received a reply to my letter which says that the Clerk is in the process of contacting the governors of the complaints committee and will write to me shortly with a date and time.

It appears that the school kept the letter for a few days before sending it on to the Clerk, but at least it got there!

I am going to contact Neil McConachie, Director of Services for the NAS tomorrow as I cc'd my original complaint letter to him (and several other people) but have heard nothing. For some strange reason I am surprised to have heard nada from the people I wrote to - it must be old age setting in to believe people may actually reply to letters these days!

Davros Mon 13-Jun-05 22:33:06

As far as I'm concerned protocol is a written reply to a letter, phone call to phone call etc etc. Let us know how you get on with NAS.

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