Complaints

Sport and Health Academy Complaints Procedure

Who can make a complaint?

This complaints procedure is not limited to parents or carers of children that are registered with Sport and Health Academy. Any person, including members of the public, may make a complaint to SAHA about any provision of facilities or services that we provide. When a complaint is made, we will use this complaints procedure.

The difference between a concern and a complaint

A concern may be defined as ‘an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought’.

A complaint may be defined as ‘an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action’.

It is in everyone’s interest that concerns and complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to use the formal stages of the complaints procedure. SAHA takes concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

If you have difficulty discussing a concern with a particular member of staff, we will respect your views. In these cases, the CEO will refer you to another staff member. Similarly, if the member of staff directly involved feels unable to deal with a concern, you will be referred to another staff member. The member of staff may be more senior but does not have to be. The ability to consider the concern objectively and impartially is more important.

We understand however, that there are occasions when people would like to raise their concerns formally. In this case, SAHA will attempt to resolve the issue internally, through the stages outlined within this complaints procedure.

How to raise a concern or make a complaint

A concern or complaint can be made in writing or by telephone. They may also be made by a third party acting on behalf on a complainant, as long as they have appropriate consent to do so.

Concerns should be raised with the senior staff or CEO. If the issue remains unresolved, the next step is to make a formal complaint.

Complaints against SAHA staff (except managers) should be made in the first instance, to the Operations manager via the SAHA website. Please mark them as ‘Private and confidential’.

Complaints that involve or are about the Managers should be addressed to the CEO, via the via the SAHA website. Please mark them as Private and Confidential, FAO Sport and Health Academy CEO.

For ease of use, a template complaint form is included at the end of this procedure. If you require help in completing the form, please contact the head office. You can also ask third party organisations like the Citizens Advice to help you.

In accordance with equality law, we will consider making reasonable adjustments if required, to enable complainants to access and complete this complaints procedure. For instance, providing information in alternative formats, assisting complainants in raising a formal complaint or holding meetings on accessible premises.

Anonymous complaints

We will not normally investigate anonymous complaints. However, the CEO or Operations Manager, if appropriate, will determine whether the complaint warrants an investigation.

Time scales

You must raise the complaint within three months of the incident or, where a series of associated incidents have occurred, within three months of the last of these incidents. We will consider complaints made outside of this time frame only if exceptional circumstances apply.

Complaints received outside of term time

We will consider complaints made outside of term time to have been received on the first school day after the holiday period.

Scope of this Complaints Procedure

This procedure covers all complaints about any provision of community facilities or services by SAHA, other than complaints that are dealt with under other statutory procedures, including those listed below:

  • Matters likely to require a child protection investigation.
  • Whistleblowing
  • Staff grievances
  • Staff conduct

If other bodies are investigating aspects of the complaint, for example the police, local authority (LA) safeguarding teams or Tribunals, this may impact on our ability to adhere to the timescales within this procedure or result in the procedure being suspended until those public bodies have completed their investigations. If a complainant commences legal action against SAHA in relation to their complaint, we will consider whether to suspend the complaints procedure in relation to their complaint until those legal proceedings have concluded.

Resolving complaints

At each stage in the procedure, SAHA wants to resolve the complaint. If appropriate, we will acknowledge that the complaint is upheld in whole or in part. In addition, we may offer one or more of the following:

  • An explanation
  • An admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better
  • An assurance that we will try to ensure the event complained of will not recur
  • An explanation of the steps that have been or will be taken to help ensure that it will not happen again and an indication of the timescales within which any changes will be made
  • An undertaking to review company policies in light of the complaint
  • An apology.
Withdrawal of a Complaint

If a complainant wants to withdraw their complaint, we will ask them to confirm this in writing.

Stage 1

Formal complaints must be made to the Operation Manager (unless they are about the Operation Manager), via the SAHA website. This may be done in writing (preferably on the Complaint Form), or by a telephone call followed by the Complaint Form.

The Operation Manager will record the date the complaint is received and will acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 10 Working days.

Within this response, the Operation Manager will seek to clarify the nature of the complaint, ask what remains unresolved and what outcome the complainant would like to see. The Operation Manager can consider whether a face to face meeting is the most appropriate way of doing this.

Note: The Operation Manager may delegate the investigation to another member of the management/ leadership team but not the decision to be taken.

During the investigation, the Operation Manager (or investigator) will:

  • If necessary, interview those involved in the matter and/or those complained of, allowing them to be accompanied if they wish.
  • Keep a written record of any meetings/interviews in relation to their investigation.

At the conclusion of their investigation, the Operation Manager will provide a formal written response within 20 working days of the date of receipt of the complaint.

If the Operation Manager is unable to meet this deadline, they will provide the complainant with an update and revised response date.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions SAHA will take to resolve the complaint.

The Operation Manager will advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied with the outcome of Stage 1.

If the complaint is about the Operation Manager, the Sports Development Manager or CEO will be appointed to complete all the actions at Stage 1.

If the complaint is:

  • The entire management/leadership team
  • The majority of the management/leadership team

Stage 1 will be considered by an independent investigator appointed by the CEO. At the conclusion of their investigation, the independent investigator will provide a formal written response.

Stage 2

If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome at Stage 1 and wishes to take the matter further, they can escalate the complaint to Stage 2 – a meeting with members of the complaints committee, which will be formed of the first three, impartial, senior members of staff available. This is the final stage of the complaints procedure.

A request to escalate to Stage 2 must be made to the CEO, via email, within 10 school days of receipt of the Stage 1 response.

The CEO will record the date the complaint is received and acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing (either by letter or email) within 7 working days.

Requests received outside of this time frame will only be considered if exceptional circumstances apply.

The CEO will write to the complainant to inform them of the date of the meeting. They will aim to convene a meeting within 20 working days of receipt of the Stage 2 request. If this is not possible, the CEO will provide an anticipated date and keep the complainant informed.

If the complainant rejects the offer of three proposed dates, without good reason, the CEO will decide when to hold the meeting. It will then proceed in the complainant’s absence on the basis of written submissions from both parties.

The complaints committee will consist of at least three senior members of staff with no prior involvement or knowledge of the complaint. Prior to the meeting, they will decide amongst themselves who will act as the Chair of the Complaints Committee. Alternatively, an entirely independent committee may be convened to hear the complaint at Stage 2.

The committee will decide whether to deal with the complaint by inviting parties to a meeting or through written representations, but in making their decision they will be sensitive to the complainant’s needs.

If the complainant is invited to attend the meeting, they may bring someone along to provide support. This can be a relative or friend. Generally, we do not encourage either party to bring legal representatives to the committee meeting. However, there may be occasions when legal representation is appropriate.

Note: Complaints about staff conduct will not generally be handled under this complaints procedure. Complainants will be advised that any staff conduct complaints will be considered under staff disciplinary procedures, if appropriate, but outcomes will not be shared with them.

Representatives from the media are not permitted to attend.

At least 20 working days before the meeting, the CEO will:

  • Confirm and notify the complainant of the date, time and venue of the meeting, ensuring that, if the complainant is invited, the dates are convenient to all parties and that the venue and proceedings are accessible.
  • Request copies of any further written material to be submitted to the committee at least 10 working days before the meeting.

Any written material will be circulated to all parties at least 5 working days before the date of the meeting. The committee will not normally accept, as evidence, recordings of conversations that were obtained covertly and without the informed consent of all parties being recorded.

The committee will also not review any new complaints at this stage or consider evidence unrelated to the initial complaint to be included. New complaints must be dealt with from Stage 1 of the procedure.

The meeting will be held in private. Electronic recordings of meetings or conversations are not normally permitted unless a complainant’s own disability or special needs require it. Prior knowledge and consent of all parties attending must be sought before meetings or conversations take place. Consent will be recorded in any minutes taken.

The committee will consider the complaint and all the evidence presented. The committee can:

  • Uphold the complaint in whole or in part
  • Dismiss the complaint in whole or in part.

If the complaint is upheld in whole or in part, the committee will:

  • Decide on the appropriate action to be taken to resolve the complaint
  • Where appropriate, recommend changes to the company’s systems or procedures to prevent similar issues in the future.

The Chair of the Committee will provide the complainant and SAHA with a full explanation of their decision and the reason(s) for it, in writing, within 10 working days.

The letter to the complainant will include details of how to contact the Department for Education if they are dissatisfied with the way their complaint has been handled.

The response will detail any actions taken to investigate the complaint and provide a full explanation of the decision made and the reason(s) for it. Where appropriate, it will include details of actions SAHA will take to resolve the complaint.

The response will also advise the complainant of how to escalate their complaint should they remain dissatisfied.

Next Steps

If the complainant believes the company did not handle their complaint in accordance with the published complaints procedure or they acted unlawfully or unreasonably in the exercise of their duties under education law, they can contact the Department for Education after they have completed Stage 2.

The Department for Education will not normally reinvestigate the substance of complaints or overturn any decisions made. They will consider whether SAHA has adhered to education legislation and any statutory policies connected with the complaint.

The complainant can refer their complaint to the Department for Education online at: www.education.gov.uk/contactus, by telephone on: 0370 000 2288 or by writing to:

Department for Education
Piccadilly Gate Store Street
Manchester
M1 2WD.

Complainant

The complainant will receive a more effective response to the complaint if they:

  • Explain the complaint in full as early as possible
  • Co-operate with the school in seeking a solution to the complaint
  • Respond promptly to requests for information or meetings or in agreeing the details of the complaint
  • Ask for assistance as needed
  • Treat all those involved in the complaint with respect
  • Refrain from publicising the details of their complaint on social media and respect confidentiality.
Investigator

The investigator’s role is to establish the facts relevant to the complaint by:

  • Providing a comprehensive, open, transparent and fair consideration of the complaint through:
  • sensitive and thorough interviewing of the complainant to establish what has happened and who has been involved
  • interviewing staff and children/young people and other people relevant to the complaint

     consideration of records and other relevant information

–      analysing information

  • Liaising with the complainant and the complaints co-ordinator as appropriate to clarify what the complainant feels would put things right.

The investigator should:

  • Conduct interviews with an open mind and be prepared to persist in the questioning
  • Keep notes of interviews or arrange for an independent note taker to record minutes of the meeting
  • Ensure that any papers produced during the investigation are kept securely pending any appeal
  • Be mindful of the timescales to respond
  • Prepare a comprehensive report for the CEO or complaints committee that sets out the facts, identifies solutions and recommends courses of action to resolve problems.

The CEO or complaints committee will then determine whether to uphold or dismiss the complaint and communicate that decision to the complainant, providing the appropriate escalation details.

Roles and Responsibilities
Complaints Co-ordinator

The complaints co-ordinator should:

  • Ensure that the complainant is fully updated at each stage of the procedure
  • Liaise with staff members, CEO, Managers and LAs (if appropriate) to ensure the smooth running of the complaints procedure
  • Be aware of issues regarding:

– sharing third party information

– additional support. This may be needed by complainants when making a complaint     including interpretation support or where the complainant is a child or young person

  • Keep records.
Committee Chair

The committee’s chair, who is nominated in advance of the complaint meeting, should ensure that:

  • Both parties are asked to provide any additional information relating to the complaint by a specified date in advance of the meeting
  • The meeting is conducted in an informal manner, is not adversarial, and that, if all parties are invited to attend, everyone is treated with respect and courtesy
  • Complainants who may not be used to speaking at such a meeting are put at ease. This is particularly important if the complainant is a child/young person
  • The remit of the committee is explained to the complainant
  • Written material is seen by everyone in attendance, provided it does not breach confidentiality or any individual’s rights to privacy under the DPA 2018 or GDPR.

If a new issue arises it would be useful to give everyone the opportunity to consider and comment upon it; this may require a short adjournment of the meeting.

  • Both the complainant and the company are given the opportunity to make their case and seek clarity, either through written submissions ahead of the meeting or verbally in the meeting itself
  • The issues are addressed
  • Key findings of fact are made
  • The committee is open-minded and acts independently
  • No member of the committee has an external interest in the outcome of the proceedings or any involvement in an earlier stage of the procedure
  • The meeting is minuted
  • They liaise with the complaints co-ordinator.
Committee Member

Committee members should be aware that:

  • The meeting must be independent and impartial, and should be seen to be so.

No SAHA staff may sit on the committee if they have had a prior involvement in the complaint or in    the circumstances surrounding it.

  • The aim of the meeting should be to resolve the complaint and achieve reconciliation between the company and the complainant.

We recognise that the complainant might not be satisfied with the outcome if the meeting does not find in their favour. It may only be possible to establish the facts and make recommendations.

  • Many complainants will feel nervous and inhibited in a formal setting.

Parents/carers often feel emotional when discussing an issue that affects their child.

  • Extra care needs to be taken when the complainant is a child/young person and present during all or part of the meeting.

Careful consideration of the atmosphere and proceedings should ensure that the child/young person does not feel intimidated.

The committee should respect the views of the child/young person and give them equal consideration to those of adults.

If the child/young person is the complainant, the committee should ask in advance if any support is needed to help them present their complaint. Where the child/young person’s parent is the complainant, the committee should give the parent the opportunity to say which parts of the meeting, if any, the child/young person needs to attend.

However, the parent should be advised that agreement might not always be possible if the parent wishes the child/young person to attend a part of the meeting that the committee considers is not in the child/young person’s best interests.

  • The welfare of the child/young person is paramount.

SAHA policy for managing serial and unreasonable complaints

 SAHA is committed to dealing with all complaints fairly and impartially, and to providing a high quality service to those who complain. We will not normally limit the contact complainants have with our company. However, we do not expect our staff to tolerate unacceptable behaviour and will take action to protect staff from that behaviour, including that which is abusive, offensive or threatening.

SAHA defines unreasonable behaviour as that which hinders our consideration of complaints because of the frequency or nature of the complainant’s contact with the company, for example, if the complainant:

  • Refuses to articulate their complaint or specify the grounds of a complaint or the outcomes sought by raising the complaint, despite offers of assistance
  • Refuses to co-operate with the complaints investigation process
  • Refuses to accept that certain issues are not within the scope of the complaints procedure
  • Insists on the complaint being dealt with in ways which are incompatible with the complaints procedure or with good practice
  • Introduces trivial or irrelevant information which they expect to be taken into account and commented on
  • Raises large numbers of detailed but unimportant questions, and insists they are fully answered, often immediately and to their own timescales
  • Makes unjustified complaints about staff who are trying to deal with the issues, and seeks to have them replaced
  • Changes the basis of the complaint as the investigation proceeds
  • Repeatedly makes the same complaint (despite previous investigations or responses concluding that the complaint is groundless or has been addressed)
  • Refuses to accept the findings of the investigation into that complaint where the company’s complaint procedure has been fully and properly implemented and completed including referral to the Department for Education
  • Seeks an unrealistic outcome
  • Makes excessive demands on school time by frequent, lengthy and complicated contact with staff regarding the complaint in person, in writing, by email and by telephone while the complaint is being dealt with
  • Uses threats to intimidate
  • Uses abusive, offensive or discriminatory language or violence
  • Knowingly provides falsified information
  • Publishes unacceptable information on social media or other public forums.

Complainants should try to limit their communication with the company that relates to their complaint, while the complaint is being progressed. It is not helpful if repeated correspondence is sent (either by letter, phone, email or text), as it could delay the outcome being reached.

Whenever possible, the CEO or Management/leadership team will discuss any concerns with the complainant informally before applying an ‘unreasonable’ marking.

If the behaviour continues, the CEO will write to the complainant explaining that their behaviour is unreasonable and ask them to change it. For complainants who excessively contact SAHA causing a significant level of disruption, we may specify methods of communication and limit the number of contacts in a communication plan. This will be reviewed after six months.

In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, we will immediately inform the police and communicate our actions in writing. This may include barring an individual from SAHA premises.

Complaints Form