Schools - guide for parents, carers and students

We welcome the opportunity to receive feedback and improve our services. We are committed to resolving complaints promptly and at the first point of contact, wherever possible. 

We will support people that may need assistance to make a complaint. All complaints will be handled fairly, objectively and promptly.

How do I make a complaint?

We encourage you to contact the school to talk about your concerns, as most problems can be solved by talking to the school office staff, your child's teacher or the school principal. They know your child and are best placed to help you.

It's best if you let them know about your concerns as early as possible. Make an appropriate time to meet with them or phone the school and ask for an appointment with the teacher.

For some matters it may be appropriate to talk to a more senior person. If you aren't sure who to complain to, we will provide you with the correct contact details.

If your complaint cannot be resolved straight away, we may ask you to put the complaint in writing. It is important that you include specific details and tell us what you would like to happen as a result of the complaint. We can help you to put your complaint in writing, if required.  

You can also use the Feedback Assist widget on the right hand side of this page to make a complaint, give feedback or tell us about an idea, and your feedback will be sent to the right place for action.

What if I need help with English?

If you need help with English, please call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450. Tell the operator what language you need and the phone number of the person you want to contact. The operator will call that number and get an interpreter on the line to assist you. This service is free of charge.

You may bring a friend or relative to be your support at meetings. If you need an interpreter, we will arrange that – just ask beforehand.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Yes, you can make your complaint anonymously. However, it may be difficult to resolve a complaint if you do not provide your contact details and we need further information to clarify the issues or take action to resolve your complaint.

Who will handle my complaint and how do I contact them?

Once you file a complaint, we will tell you who will handle it and how to contact them. If a complaint concerns a risk to health or safety, security, corrupt conduct, criminal conduct or child protection, we will manage it within our policies and procedures.

Will my complaint be kept confidential?

The person who is dealing with your complaint will advise you if we can keep your complaint private. We cannot guarantee confidentiality, as we may need to disclose your details or details of your complaint to others which may include referring it to another more appropriate public sector agency or as otherwise permitted by privacy legislation. If your complaint is about another person, we will usually tell them about the complaint and give them a chance to respond.

How long will it take for my complaint to be dealt with?

It will depend on what your complaint is about.

In circumstances where a complaint requires specialist handling or an investigation, we will acknowledge the complaint and inform you who will be dealing with the matter and how to contact that person. If it is likely to take longer than 20 working days, you will be kept informed about progress on a regular basis until the matter is resolved.

In some cases we may not be able to look into your complaint until other issues have been dealt with. We will let you know if this is the case.

If you have not heard from the person who is handling the complaint within a reasonable time, call them to ask what is happening.

Will I be told what is happening at the end of my complaint?

In almost all cases, we will tell you what we found, any action we are taking and the reasons for our decisions. In some matters there may be reasons why we cannot provide you with another person's personal information.

What about my privacy?

In accordance with the relevant legislation, complainants' personal information will not be disclosed to any third party without their consent, except where required or authorised by law.

What are the possible results of my complaint?

If the complaint is upheld, you may be offered one or more of the following:

  • action to fix the matter or improve the situation
  • an apology
  • an explanation
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled better or differently
  • an undertaking to review the department's policies in light of the complaint.

If the complaint is not upheld, we will give you clear reasons for our decision.

What if I am not happy with the result?

If you are not happy with the way we handled your complaint or you have further information, you may ask for a review of your complaint by contacting the principal, the director public schools or the manager of the section of the department that handled your complaint.

What if I am still not happy after I have requested a review?

If you feel that you have not been treated fairly or that the result is still unreasonable, you may wish to seek a review from an independent organisation.

NSW Ombudsman

02 9286 1000

www.ombo.nsw.gov.au

Australian Human Rights

02 9284 9600

www.humanrights.gov.au

What does the department expect of complainants?

The department expects complainants to be respectful and reasonable in their dealings with the department and to assist the complaint handler to deal with the complaint. It helps us to resolve complaints if you are able to provide clear information about what happened and what you would like us to do about the situation.

What does the department do if complainants do not behave reasonably?

Where complainant conduct becomes unreasonable and obstructs the proper management of a complaint, a senior officer from the department may decide to restrict or terminate contact with a complainant.

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