Thursday, May 13, 2010

How does a parent go about making a complaint about their child's head teacher?

My husband and I have this morning been to see our son's headteacher about an incident that happened where he got out of the school gate and into the street. The headteacher said that they are not allowed to lock the gate, it is only bolted with a slide bolt and no padlock. Is it going to take the death of a child before they step up the security? Any school governors out there for some good advice please.How does a parent go about making a complaint about their child's head teacher?
If you would like to take this further your next step is a letter to the Chair Of Governors. You should the receive a letter acknowledging your complaint. The chair will then do an investigation to see if all H%26amp;S rules were in place and in use.

After the investigation they will write to you again with the findings - if everything was in place and school have not been negligent I am afraid there will not be much you can do. Part of the H%26amp;S is that your child should know not to leave school premises without permission from an adult involved in the school. You don't say how old your son is - obviously the older he is the more onus will be on him knowing the rules

If there is evidence of negligence then depending how satisfied you are with the outcome you can then take it to the LEA who MAY investigate it further.

It is in your best interests to keep it civil and remember not to talk to any of the staff or children that were involved about it - or in fact any of the governors except the chair - if you have a case all those involved will be witnesses and it will go up before a panel of governors - they need to be impartial and not in possession of the facts until the committee meet.

Others are right the school gates cannot be locked for safety reasons

Whatever way you go - hope you get it sorted to your satisfaction - do not go to the press - it can only damage any case you haveHow does a parent go about making a complaint about their child's head teacher?
Here, at least, it is not permissible to lock the gate while there are people on the premises, it is an emergency exit and access. I'm sure that, on reflection, you'd prefer the children and staff to be able to flee if there was a fire, gas leak or whatever, or for paramedics etc. to be able to get in rather then having to wait while someone went to look for the key.

It's a question of the staff keeping an eye on the kids wherever possible -which isn't always the case. In our school we've had a yellow ';box junction'; sort of square painted inside the gate and the pupils aren't allowed to set foot inside that, except when officially going to school or leaving after school. It also serves to keep them from accepting ';gifts'; from strangers over the gate - just in case.
It might be worth approaching the PTA with this issue as they can raise it at the next meeting. School doors are usually locked with a security code so there's no reason for children to be able to leave the school unless it's playtime or lunchtime, even then a teacher is usually there to keep an eye on things.

If you don't have any luck with the PTA or the headteacher, then you would have to raise this issue with the Local Education Authority which you can find through your local council.

Good Luck x
You need to write to the head of governors.

You also need to consider that what the headteacher said may be true. Is the gate in a restricted area? Imagine if there was a fire and your kid died _because_ the gate was locked.

In any case, you have to consider practicality. People come and go from schools throughout the day. How are the volunteer reading helpers supposed to get through a locked gate? The dinner ladies? Parents coming to see the school? Deliveries? Kids of school age are expected to take some responsibility for themselves. That involves not going out of the premises. Unless your child has special needs (in which case he needs special treatment) then what's needed isn't for the school to step up security, it's for YOU to teach YOUR son that he is not allowed to leave the school grounds.
I was a School Governor. The gates have to be able to be opened from the inside and outside. If there was a fire, the brigade have to have access. No time to look for the key. The school does have a 'duty of care' to look after the children but sometimes with so many youngsters mistakes can happen. Did this happen at playtime? they should have had a teacher or helper to monitor the kids. Hopefully they have learnt their lesson and it won't happen again. You could put in a complaint to the Chairman of the Governors, but hopefully if it is a good caring school they will nake sure your child will not be able to 'break out' again.
I work in several schools. Those that have a lockable gate are *always* openable from the inside - the lock is to prevent people getting in, not out.

Don't bother with a complaint. You'll be wasting your time, and the schools. As an alternative, you could try educating your own child about not leaving the school grounds.

If the school has an appropriate adult supervisor/child ratio, they have done nothing wrong.
It actually is a government requirement in several states that such types of gates remain unlocked, because they present fire-escape hazards. To compensate for this, several schools implement a 'stay away from the gate or you get in trouble' idea, at last in elementary schools. So if the kid doesn't listen to the teacher and goes to the gate anyway, it's the kids own fault.
Both my son and daughters school are not allowed to lock the gates for fire safety reasons, how old is your son you do not say and should he have known better than to go out the gates, if its the schools policy that the gates are not allowed to be locked then your complaint wont really get you anywhere
Schools are not allowed to lock the gates so no point in complaining.

Even the reception classes at my kids school knew not to go out of the gates, maybe you should instill this in your son as he obviously hasn't listened to his teachers.
If it is a safety problem, I would talk to your local police man.

You can also contact OFSTED, or your Local Education Authority.
get your kids a helmet!

let you kid live, he will find out that he can function on his own! and one day he will be able to leave the house you made and make his own
go straight to your local education authority
I agree that a padlock would be dangerous if an adult couldn't open it quickly, but slidebolt should have a spring clip on it that an adult could unclip. I worked at a daycare with 2 year olds and you can not expect the two year olds not to try to get out, so just saying no isn't enough. I would describe a spring clip to the head teacher and explain that this would be complicated enough for child not to open, but an adult could open quickly. Your son needs better protection and you must fight for it. So, making a complaint is not as important as fixing the problem. A padlock is too much, a sliding deadbolt is too little. Look for the solution in between. Maybe a chain lock added to the gate also?

If they continue to refuse to put a spring clip on the gate, I would then complain in a certified letter. So if someone gets hurt they will be sued. I would also remove my son from ths school if measures aren't taken to protect him from running in the street. Good luck!
Sounds like one for the press to me - contact your local paper - they'll love it!

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