Complain to a school about SEND

What to do if you are unhappy with something at your child’s school and your child has SEND.

  • if you are unhappy with something at your child's educational setting and your child has SEND, the first thing to do is to speak to the teacher, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) or tutor
  • you can ask a family member, friend or advocate to accompany you
  • there is a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) in every early years setting, school and educational establishment. They are responsible for coordinating provision for children or young people
  • if you are still unhappy, you should talk to the head teacher, to resolve the problem informally
  • you can also ask for a copy of the school's complaints procedure. By law, schools must have a procedure for parents and carers to complain
  • if you cannot resolve a problem informally, there are different options. Which route you take depends on what your complaint is about

Complain to the governing body.

Every school has a governing body, or an academy trust in the case of an academy. School complaint procedures usually end with complaining to the governing body of the educational establishment. A complaint to the governing body should be addressed to the chair of governors (or head of academy trust). Please add ‘formal complaint’ at the top of any letters. If the school is a community or voluntary controlled school, you could also send a letter to the director in charge of local education services, often called the children and young people’s service.

Your complaint should include details of dates, times, meetings and decisions. Also, try to explain what harm your child or young person has suffered because of the school’s action or inaction, as this may help the governing body understand the substance of your complaint. Include what you would like the governing body to do to put things right.

The governing body is likely to pass your complaint to a panel of governors, who may invite you to a meeting to look at the case in more detail.

If the governing body does not give you a satisfactory response, the sections below outline a number of options depending on the type of complaint you have

For more information about school governors, see the GOV.UK running a school or college web page.