It is impossible to avoid situations where, for whatever reason, someone is not happy with something that has happened. In the majority of cases, it is possible to sort it out through a phone call, email or meeting.
Resolving situations with a phone call, for example, is called an informal process. Just because it is informal, it does not mean that whatever is agreed cannot be recorded, or does not have to be done.
In some cases, however, the law recognises that there is a need to make a complaint about something, and all organisations have policies in place to explain how this should happen.
The SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) can help you with raising things both formally and informally.
If you are unhappy with something, it is advisable to begin by speaking to someone about it, in person, or by phone or email. In school, or another educational setting, this could be a teacher, the head of year or the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO).
If it is about something to do with the local authority or health service, you will have the name of the person you normally see or speak to and you can discuss it with them, or ask to speak to their manager. In most cases, this should resolve the situation.
It is possible to deal with a concern more formally without making a complaint.
You can do this by writing or emailing your concerns to the service manager, explaining that you are not making a formal complaint but raising something with them that you would like them to investigate and get back to you about.
By putting it in writing there is a record, but it does not trigger the formal complaints process.
Raising a concern informally does not mean it should not be taken less seriously, and going through the informal steps does not stop you going through the complaints process if you are still unhappy with the result.
Formal complaints processes
If you’re not happy with a service you’ve received from us, there is a formal complaints process.
If you're unhappy with a decision made by us about your request for an education, health and care plan (EHCP), or the outcome or the content of your child's EHCP, there is a mediation and tribunal process.
View information on how to complain about NHS services.
Early years providers
If you're not happy with the support your child is getting at their nursery, preschool or childminder, talk to your child’s key person, SENCO or manager in the first instance.
For all registered providers, formal complaints are made to Ofsted.
Schools and colleges
If you're unhappy with something at your child’s school, talk to their class teacher, head of year, tutor or SENCO first, to try and sort the problem out as early as possible.
If you are not satisfied with the school’s response, you can use their complaints procedure. Every school, further education and sixth form college must have a complaints policy. Check their website or ask for a copy.
Further details about making complaints about a school can be found on GOV.UK.