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Chelmsford Diocesan
Board of Education

Promoting life in all its fullness through education across Essex and East London

Complaints Policy

Chelmsford Diocesan Board of Education (CDBE) Complaints Policy

The following sets out procedure for the handling of complaints by third parties against CDBE or anyone acting on its behalf.

CDBE is committed to operating within its means and in accordance with prevailing legislation, as well as national and diocesan frameworks.  At the same time, it is keen  to review and improve its services and policies wherever necessary.  Feedback is therefore important.  A matter can often be resolved through informal dialogue without recourse to a more formal process.  However, CDBE accepts that it may sometimes be necessary for a person to lodge a more formal complaint.  This policy sets out the procedure to be adopted in such a situation.

If at any stage in the handling of a complaint through this Complaints Policy, it becomes evident that the matter should be considered instead through prevailing Diocesan disciplinary procedures, the Director, CDBE Chair, Chief Executive or Bishop may require this.

The Diocesan Board of Finance Staff Handbook outlines these procedures as they affect staff employed by the Diocesan Board of Finance.  The Diocese reserves the right to invoke the Clergy Discipline Measure in some circumstances.  If a matter is referred to a formal disciplinary procedure, the application of this Policy will be halted until any such processes are concluded.

In a case involving the conduct of a Consultant or Volunteer, where disciplinary procedures are not applicable, it will be open to the Director or Panel after either Stage Two or Stage Three to consider discontinuing a service or re-configuring a role.

Complaints involving SIAMS Inspectors will be dealt with through the prevailing SIAMS Protocol.

There are three stages:

1.         Informal resolution

2.         Investigation

3.         CDBE Panel

 

1.         Stage One: Informal resolution

i)          If a matter cannot be resolved through informal dialogue, a written complaint may be made to the Director of Education.

It should be noted that the expression of intent to lodge a written complaint may have the effect of halting any informal dialogue which has been taking place.

If the complaint concerns the conduct of the Director, it should be sent to the Chair of CDBE.

A written complaint must be received within 3 months of any alleged incident, event or project completion for this Policy to apply.

ii)         On receipt of a written complaint the Director will acknowledge receipt within 14 days,  The Director will then consider the issues raised and write back to the complainant within 28 days.  If the complaint concerns the conduct of the Director, the Chair of the Board will respond within 28 days.  In many instances, this will lead to informal resolution.

iii)        If informal resolution has not been possible, the complainant may seek a more formal Investigation.  This is Stage Two.

 

2.         Stage Two: Investigation

If informal resolution under Stage One has not resolved the matter, a complainant may request a Stage Two Investigation.

ii)         An Investigation will be carried out by a member of CDBE or an Officer of the diocese who has not been involved in the matter.  In some cases an Investigation will be conducted by the Chair of CDBE.

iii)        The person who has made the Investigation will normally respond in writing to the complainant within 28 days of being notified of the need to investigate.

 

3.         Stage Three CDBE Panel

Very occasionally, a third stage of consideration may be required.  The convening of a CDBE Panel is intended for exceptional circumstances in which a broader view of the substance of a complaint is sought or where 1 and 2 above have identified serious issues about CDBE’s procedures and policies or a complainant has strong grounds for pursuing a matter further.

i)          A Panel of three members of CDBE who have not played a part in the events or situation will be convened.

The Panel may ask the Director or Chair of CDBE to submit written information together with a copy of correspondence.

A Panel may instigate a personal hearing in addition to scrutinising documentary evidence.  It may invite the Complainant and any member of staff (including any Consultant or Volunteer involved) to meet with it.

Any member of staff, Consultant or Volunteer asked to meet the Panel may be accompanied by a professional adviser or ‘friend’.

A Panel may question any appropriate persons, including the complainant.

A complainant shall normally have the right to attend a Panel hearing in full or in part and to address it.  However, the exact process to be adopted by the Panel will be at the discretion of its Chair, normally a senior member of CDBE.

ii)         The Panel shall inform the complainant in writing of the outcome of its deliberation not later than 28 days after the hearing is held.

iii)        The Panel may make recommendations regarding policy or procedure to the CDBE. Whilst CDBE shall have due regard to any Panel recommendations, it retains discretion on whether to accept any recommendations brought to it by a Panel.

If a complaint is not upheld by the Panel or further steps are not considered to be appropriate, the decision of the Panel shall be deemed to be the final word on the matter by the Diocesan Board of Education.

 

Tim Elbourne

June 2015