Parent Feedback

Parent Complaints and Concerns Policy

Advice for inclusion in the Newsletter each year
I extend a reminder to all parents that if at any time you find that you have a concern about anything to do with your child’s education at the school, or more generally; you are encouraged to contact the Assistant Principal so that your concern can be addressed. It is our aim to work with all of our school community to ensure that we do the very best we can to ensure a productive, safe and enjoyable learning experience for our students. All concerns and complaints should initially be made through the Assistant Principal, who may then involve the Principal, Student Wellbeing Officer, Year Level Coordinator or a staff member as required.

The school’s values and the school-parent partnership
Mount Beauty Secondary College aims to produce responsible community members who are equipped to respond to the challenges of a dynamic world, both at a local and global level. Students are expected to aspire to and endeavour to do their best, reach high levels of self-discipline and accept responsibility for their actions and for their role in ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment for all. Parents need to develop a positive school and educational relationship and share that with their children, recognising that a significant part of a student’s academic and personal development comes from the home. The school will always try to develop a good working partnership with parents, clearly stating and communicating our expectations on student work expectations, behaviour, uniform, homework as well as general processes and procedures. The school must focus on the best interests of all students and parents should understand that at times their personal views may be out of step with the broader community. Where parents wish to seek changes to processes or policy, they can do so through the School Council, or to make a complaint concerning any aspect of the school, a complaints form is available from the General Office. Parents should communicate directly through the Assistant Principal, who may then involve the Principal, Student Wellbeing Officer, Year Level Coordinator or a staff member as required.

Concerns and complaints covered by these procedures include:
These procedures cover concerns and complaints about:
• general issues of student behaviour that are contrary to the school’s code of conduct
• incidents of bullying or harassment in the classroom or the school yard
• learning programs, assessment and reporting of student learning
• communication with parents
• school fees and payments
• general administrative issues
• any other school-related matters except as detailed below.

Matters not covered by this policy, for which there are existing rights of review or appeal include:
• student discipline matters involving expulsions
• child protection issues
• criminal matters

The Principal or Regional Office can advise you about specific procedures for complaints of these types.

Ownership and scope
The School Council has developed this policy in 2012 to address parental concerns in a way that promotes the effective remediation of the concern. If the school and parents work in partnership to understand the concern and its underlying causes, in a calm and considered manner, then it is likely that a successful outcome for the student will be achieved. Implementation of the policy will be the primary responsibility of the Assistant Principal, with the Principal, Student Wellbeing Officer and Year Level Coordinators becoming involved as required. Feedback to the School Council on policy (non-operational) matters can be done through communicating with School Councillors, or via the Assistant Principal or Principal. Feedback to the school on implementation matters should be firstly done through communicating with the Assistant Principal or Principal, with the Regional Office available after that if the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily. Parents need to be aware that the involvement of the school in matters that occur outside of school hours will be limited to advice and counselling.

The school expects a person raising a concern or complaint to:
• do so promptly, as soon as possible after the issue occurs
• provide complete and factual information about the concern or complaint
• maintain and respect the privacy and confidentiality of all parties
• acknowledge that a common goal is to achieve an outcome acceptable to all parties
• act in good faith, and in a calm and courteous manner
• show respect and understanding of each other’s point of view and value difference, rather than judge and blame
• recognise that all parties have rights and responsibilities which must be balanced.

The school will address any concerns and complaints received from parents:
• courteously
• efficiently
• fairly
• promptly, or within the timeline agreed with the person with the concern or complaint
• in accordance with due process, principles of natural justice and the Department’s regulatory framework.

Raising concerns or complaints
In the first instance, a complaint or concern should be made to the school, through the Assistant Principal. This approach may be via telephone, written, or in person after making an appointment through the General Office on 0357544005

Help with raising concerns and complaints
Complainants can seek the services of an advocate when they feel they are unable to express their concern clearly or need emotional support. An advocate can be a friend, partner, a School Councillor, or someone who is available through an appropriate support organisation who does not receive a fee for service. The school will ensure that the complainant is aware of these supports. A complainant who wishes to use these support services should ensure the person addressing the concern or complaint is aware of their intention and is in agreement. All parties involved in addressing a complaint may seek the services of a mediator when there is difficulty coming to an agreement.

Managing parent concerns and complaints information
In the first instance, when the complaint is easily resolved in a telephone call or conversation, a brief note in the Assistant Principal’s diary recording the issue and the resolution would be all that is required. In more complex concerns the school will consider recording the following details of all complaints received,
• name and contact details (with permission) of the person with a concern or complaint
• the date the concern was expressed or complaint made
• the form in which the concern or complaint was received (such as face-to-face, by telephone, in writing, by email)
• a description of the concern or complaint
• details of the school officer responding to the concern or complaint
• action taken on the concern or complaint
• the outcome of action taken on the concern or complaint
• any recommendations for future improvement in the school’s policy or procedures.
Where student misbehaviour has occurred, the school attempts to gather detailed information from both the student and any student witnesses and relevant staff. This information is available for parents to view, subject to confidentiality and privacy needs. The records of concerns and misbehaviour are stored in each student’s file or teacher’s file as appropriate.

Addressing concerns or complaints
Parents should initially approach the Assistant Principal with any concern or complaint. This approach may be via telephone, written, or in person after making an appointment through the General Office on 0357544005. A record of all approaches will be kept by the Assistant Principal.

Written complaints should explain clearly all relevant details, with a chronological order of events being best. Wherever possible, names should be included to allow the school to readily verify the facts, with confidentiality being respected at all times.

Verbal complaints should also include all relevant details and parents should be aware that a record of interview will be made. For complex issues this can be time consuming and parents may be better providing a written text to support their complaint or concern.

Where appropriate, the complaint or concern may be then dealt with by -
• the student’s teacher or home group teacher about minor learning issues and incidents that happened in their class or group
• the year level coordinator for major incidents or if for example students from several classes are involved
• the Assistant Principal about issues relating to staff members or complex student issues
• the Principal about issues relating to school policy, school management, Assistant Principal, staff members or very complex student issues.
• the Regional Office about issues concerning the Principal or very complex student issues or issues that cannot be resolved satisfactorily.

Complaints are usually followed up by the next day, but in more complex cases resolution of the issue may take a week or more. This can occur due to staff or student absence or the need to interview or re-interview a number of students, staff or other witnesses. Parents will be notified by telephone, or in writing, of the outcome within two school working days of the resolution.

If a concern or complaint is substantiated in whole or part, the school will offer an appropriate remedy. For example, at its discretion and depending on the circumstances, the school might offer:
• an explanation or further information about the issue
• mediation, counselling or other support
• a consequence in line with the student code of conduct
• passing information onto the police or other government agencies
• an apology, expression of regret or admission of fault
• to change its decision
• to change its policies, procedures or practices
• to cancel a debt (such as for school payments)
• a fee refund.

The school will implement the remedy as soon as practicable.

Referral of concerns or complaints
If a person with a concern or complaint is not satisfied with the outcome determined by the school, they should contact Hume Regional Office on 0357612100 or PO Box 403, Benalla. The officer from the region will ask the complainant for a complete and factual account in writing of the concern or complaint and the complainant’s opinion about why the school did not resolve it to their satisfaction.
If the complaint cannot be resolved by the complainant, school and regional office working together, the regional office may refer it to the Department’s Group Coordination Division. The Division will ask the complainant for a complete and factual account in writing of the concern or complaint and the complainant’s opinion about why the school and regional office did not resolve it to their satisfaction and will ask the complainant to outline their view on the course of action required to resolve the complaint. Where the complainant is unable to provide a written account the officer from Group Coordination Division should act on the information provided.

Communication and training
The school’s procedures for addressing concerns and complaints will be:
• published on the school’s website
• printed (abridged) in the parent’s handbook ie Year 7, Middle School and VCE handbooks.
• printed (abridged) in the school newsletter on an annual basis.
The school will:
• brief all members of staff (including volunteers) about its procedures to address concerns and complaints annually
• provide staff with (or provide access to) training and support appropriate to their responsibilities under the procedures
• ensure staff who manage complaints demonstrate the personal attributes outlined in the Good Practice Guide: Ombudsman Victoria’s guide to complaint handling for Victorian public sector agencies.

The school will monitor parent concerns and complaints and consider issues raised through the parent complaints process, and any other relevant information from the parent opinion survey, when undertaking a review of the school’s policies, procedures and operations.
The school council will regularly review its policy and procedures to effectively address parent concerns and complaints as part of its cyclic policy and procedures review schedule.
The school will review its information about complaints made over time to:
• identify common or recurring issues that may need addressing
• assess the effectiveness of these and other procedures and whether they are being followed
• use information provided to the school through the parent opinion survey on the views of parents.