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Feedback and complaints

Education and learning feedback procedure

Why is your feedback important?

We want to make sure that you are satisfied with our education and learning services. We need to know what we are doing well, what we could do better and what we are not doing well. Therefore, we welcome all feedback about our education and learning services, whether positive or negative.

We take all comments and complaints seriously and aim to resolve your concerns in a timely manner and to use your feedback to improve our services.

Compliments

We value our staff and it is important that they know when they are doing a good job or have exceeded expectations in delivering a service. We use compliments to build on success and continue to provide excellent levels of service.

We will aim to record the details of your compliment within 3 working days of receipt. Details will be passed to the relevant manager who will ensure that the team or staff member receives acknowledgement and recognition.

Comments and concerns

We recognise that customers may wish to raise a formal concern or comment regarding Council activity without raising a complaint. This is known as a representation. We aim to acknowledge your representation within 3 working days, and you will be advised who is looking into the issues you have raised. You can expect to receive a final response within 20 working days.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the service you have received from Devon County Council, you are entitled to make a complaint whilst knowing that it will not affect your current or future service, that you will be treated fairly and sensitively, and that you will receive a response from us in a timely manner. Your feedback is welcomed and is used to help us improve our services.

Please let us know if:

  • we tell you we will do something, but we do nothing
  • we take too long to do something we have agreed to do
  • we tell you that we cannot help you when you believe we should
  • you think a member of our staff’s behaviour is inappropriate
  • you are dissatisfied with any other aspect of our service

Informal stage

We hope that most concerns can be settled easily and quickly by discussing the problem with the member of staff involved. If you tell them what is worrying you, they will try to find a solution or advise you who the best person is to speak to.

If you prefer, you can ask to speak to the manager of the service you are concerned about. We will organise a meeting with the manager who will listen to your concerns and help decide the best course of action with you.

You can contact the Customer Relations Team with details of your concerns and they will ensure that a meeting with a manager is booked (please see the end of this page for contact details). The Customer Relations Team would like to be able to help resolve your concerns informally with the service. If not, they can help you further with information about how to make a complaint.

I need help to progress my complaint – what do I do?

If you need help to progress your complaint, please contact the Customer Relations Team who will be able to discuss your requirements with you.

We understand and respect that some people may need advice and support from an independent advocate to make their complaint, to pursue it, to understand the process and to cope with the outcome.

We acknowledge that this is particularly important for people who are vulnerable or find it difficult to make their views heard, or for complainants whose first language is not English and those with communication difficulties.

If you need us to make a reasonable adjustment to progress your complaint, please let us know and we will work with you so that your complaint can be progressed.

Making a complaint – stage 1

If your concerns cannot be resolved after the informal stage, we can register them within this complaint’s procedure.

When a complaint is received, we aim to acknowledge it within 3 working days. If you make your complaint by telephone to the Customer Relations Team, we can provide you with a written record of your complaint on request.

We will ask a manager to investigate your complaint and provide you with a response or update within 20 working days. If the service is not able to provide you with a response within 20 working days, we will ask the responding manager to update you on progress and to let you know when a response will be available.

Usually, your complaint will be investigated and responded to by the manager of the service you are complaining about; however, there are times when this may be inappropriate. In such cases, the Customer Relations Team will seek a suitable alternative manager to respond.

Putting things right

If we make a mistake, we will apologise and try to take some practical action to put things right. We will ask you to suggest what you would like us to do. We will always try to put you back in the position you would have been in but for our mistake. We will also take measures to learn from our mistakes and try to ensure that the same mistake does not happen again.

We may decide that one or more of the following can be done to put things right:

  • Provide or change a service to the customer.
  • Provide an explanation or information to the customer.
  • Review customer literature (for example, leaflets, website, posters).
  • Review a policy or procedure.
  • Arrange training or guidance for employees.
  • Provide a refund in appropriate circumstances.

Making a complaint – stage 2

Stage 2 meeting

If you remain unhappy with the Council’s response to your complaint at Stage 1, you can request progression to Stage 2 of the complaints procedure by contacting the Customer Relations Team, using any of the contact methods detailed at the end of this procedure.

We would request that you contact us within 20 working days from the date you receive your response at stage 1 otherwise we may not be able to progress your complaint. If this is the case, we will explain why.

For your request to be considered, you will need to explain why you are still unhappy and what you would like to happen to put things right. Initially, we will organise a meeting with you and a senior manager in the service so we can listen again to your views on why you remain unhappy and see what else we can do to do to put things right.

If after meeting with you, we can resolve your outstanding concerns at stage 1 with immediate action we will do so and confirm this in writing to you. We will aim to hold this meeting with you within 15 working days of receipt of request to go to stage 2. After meeting with you we will aim write to you within 3 working days, confirming the agreed actions from the meeting.

Stage 2 independent investigation

If you feel we have not been successful in resolving your concerns, the Customer Relations Team will commission an independent investigator who will contact you to establish the areas of your complaint you remain dissatisfied with that you feel need to be investigated independently of the service.

Once the issues of the complaint have been agreed with you, the independent investigator will look into your complaint. You will receive a response from a senior manager alongside an independent investigation report within 50 working days of your agreement of the issues of complaint. A complex case may take longer but we will keep you informed of progress and likely timescales.

What if I am still unhappy?

Following conclusion of stage 2, you will have exhausted the education and learning feedback procedure. You would then be entitled to take your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). The Ombudsman considers complaints about Councils, and can be contacted at:

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
PO Box 4771
Coventry
CV4 0EH
Advice line: 0300 061 0614
Web: www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint

What is the time limit for making a complaint to the Council?

Complaints should be made within 12 months of the incident that caused the problem, or when you realise there is a problem. The Council can exercise discretion to extend this if circumstances indicate it would have been difficult for you to have made it earlier, and if it is still possible to investigate the facts of the case fairly and effectively. If we decide not to accept your complaint, we will explain why.

Does this process deal with every complaint?

No, this complaint procedure covers education and learning services. Most complaints that are about adult or children’s social care are handled through complaints processes that comply with the statutory regulations and guidance that are specific to these areas of the Council’s work.

All other services delivered by the Council are covered by the corporate feedback procedure. If you wish to make a complaint about adult or children’s social care or any other area of the Council please contact the Customer Relations Team.

Is there anything I cannot complain about?

The education and learning feedback procedure is not applicable if:

  • you have left it more than 12 months since knowing about the problem
  • the matter has not affected your child personally or caused an injustice
  • you have, or had, a right to appeal or you have taken legal action and we think it is reasonable for you to have done so – this might be to:
    • a special educational needs and disability tribunal
    • the courts

The Council is unable to respond to complaints about schools. Schools have their own complaints policies and procedures which they are responsible for. This procedure also cannot handle complaints that relate to the conduct of any county councillor. Any such concern should be raised with the Monitoring Officer.

Individuals, companies or organisations in a contractual or professional relationship with the Council should raise any concerns they may have with the relevant manager or contract manager within the Council. They cannot be considered through this procedure. If you make a complaint that we are unable to deal with, we will write to you to explain why.

Contacting us

Should you wish to provide feedback or make a complaint, please:

If you need this information in a different format or language please contact us on 0800 212 783.

View the privacy notice for customer feedback here.