Complaints & Dispute Resolution

In Western Australia, the School Education Act 1999 (WA) section 159(1) (j) requires non-government schools to have policies and procedures in all areas as determined by the Minister through Registration Standards, including a policy and procedures for managing complaints or grievances.  All formal complaints, and their associated resolutions, at all levels within the School, are recorded in the official Complaints Register held by the Principal.

Please note: The St Mark's Anglican Community School Complaints and Dispute Resolution Policy is related to, and governed by, the Anglican Schools Commission's Dispute and Complaint Resolution Policy.

RATIONALE

St Mark’s Anglican Community School welcomes suggestions and comments from parents, students or staff members and takes seriously concerns that may be raised. Their concern or complaint will be treated as an expression of genuine dissatisfaction that needs a response. This may include issues where a parent, student or staff member thinks the School, a staff member, a student or a parent may have:

  • done something wrong;
  • failed to do something it should have done; or
  • acted unfairly or impolitely.

We wish to ensure that:

  • parents/guardians, students and staff members wishing to make a complaint or raise a concern know how to do so;
  • parents/guardians, students and staff members realise that we listen and take their concerns seriously;
  • we respond to issues raised within a reasonable time and in a courteous and efficient way; and
  • we take action where appropriate

The concerns raised by parents, students and staff are treated as constructive criticism and may be used to improve standards where appropriate.

KEY PRINCIPLES

The Anglican Schools Commission has in place a Dispute and Complaint Resolution Policy, with which St Mark’s complies (see Anglican Schools Commission policy). Having a good complaints procedure reflects positively on the ethos and values of the School.  If a concern or complaint is dealt with seriously and sensitively at an early stage, it is likely to have a satisfactory outcome.
The procedure is written with the understanding and experience that, in most cases, matters are best resolved at the local level.  To this end, if you have or receive a complaint or dispute, please refer to the flow chart below. The same flow chart will apply if staff members have a complaint or dispute with a colleague or parent. Anonymous and/or unsubstantiated complaints will not be investigated.

Note:  If the dispute or complaint is with the Principal, it should be referred to the Chairman of Council.

Complaints raised by students
While parents/guardians will often wish to raise issues on behalf of their children, there are other issues which students may choose to raise on their own behalf, and which are best raised by them. The principles that apply to parental/staff complaints are also applied to complaints and concerns from students. One important difference is that students are able to raise concerns with any member of staff with whom they feel comfortable, whether it is the Form Teacher, a Head of School, a member of support staff, Head of House or Head of Student Services.

The key principles for the management and resolution of complaints/disputes are:

  • The School is open to the concerns of parents, students and staff members.
  • Complaints are received in a positive manner.
  • Parents and students can expect to be taken seriously and can approach any member of staff about their concerns.
  • Staff members can expect to be taken seriously, and can approach any other member of staff or, in the case of harassment or discrimination, may also contact the School’s Equal Opportunities representative.
  • Information about complaints is clear and readily available.
  • Concerns are dealt with speedily and those who have raised them are kept informed about progress.
  • It is not acceptable for students to receive adverse treatment because they or their parents have raised a complaint.
  • Individual cases may be examined on their own merits.
  • Clear and confidential records in a Complaints Register, recording all formal complaints and how they have been resolved.
  • Appropriate confidentiality is respected by all parties.
  • Communication from the School is clear and unambiguous.
  • Staff training covers the handling of complaints.

This policy is based on a number of fundamental principles:

  • Natural justice must be exercised in resolving any dispute or complaint. This requires that both parties receive a fair hearing and that the final decision is made without bias.
  • The resolution to a dispute or a complaint must exhaust all reasonable attempts at conciliation prior to an imposed arbitrated decision.
  • Individual cases must be examined on their own merits.
  • Resolutions must appropriately balance the principles of justice and compassion.
  • Appropriate confidentiality must be respected by all parties.
  • The Principal of the School has the responsibility to attempt to resolve a dispute or complaint with the parties directly involved at local level.
  • Parties may appeal to the Chair of the School Council the decision made by the Principal.
  • Parties may appeal to the Chair of the Anglican Schools Commission the decision made by the Chair of the School Council.

PROCEDURES

The following procedures will apply in relation to this policy:

  • Principals shall advise parents, staff and students of this dispute and complaints resolution process.
  • Principals need to maintain an appropriate Complaints Register recording all formal complaints and how they have been resolved.
  • Policies and procedures of the Anglican Schools Commission and St Mark’s Anglican Community School that address specific matters (e.g. Child Abuse, Student Enrolment etc) shall be followed.
  • If the dispute involves an employment issue, the prescribed process in the Anglican Schools Commission’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement or relevant Award shall be followed.

Each dispute or complaint resolution procedure followed by the School shall ensure that all relevant parties:

  • Are informed in writing of the dispute or complaint
  • Have the opportunity to place their version on record
  • Have the opportunity to be represented if they so wish
  • The resolution of a dispute or complaint, in the first instance, should be undertaken between the immediate parties involved.
  • Should the immediate parties involved fail to reach a resolution, then the Principal is responsible for undertaking a procedure to resolve a dispute or complaint within the School. The procedure will only be initiated following a written complaint addressed to the Principal.
  • Where a dispute or complaint involves the Principal, the matter shall be referred in writing directly to the Chair of School Council.
  • Anonymous and/or unsubstantiated complaints shall not be investigated.
  • The Principal shall maintain records of the procedure and resolution to any formal dispute or complaint. These will include any statements made by the parties involved.
  • Records of any dispute or complaint shall be maintained in accordance with the School’s Privacy Policy.
  • It is the responsibility of the Principal to attempt to reach a resolution between the parties where possible.
  • Failing to reach a resolution by agreement, the Principal shall make a decision. When this occurs, the Principal shall inform each party of the decision.
  • The Principal may call on outside mediation, including the Anglican School’s Commission’s Employment Assistance Program provider ‘Working Relationships’, to assist in the resolution of the dispute or complaint.
  • Any party may appeal the Principal’s decision, in writing, to the Chair of the School Council.
  • Any party may appeal the School Council’s decision, in writing, to the Chair of the Anglican Schools Commission.
  • If  the above occurs, the Anglican Schools Commission shall appoint an Investigating Officer, or, where necessary, an independent arbiter.  The Visitor (as defined in the constitution of St Mark’s Anglican Community School) may play a role in this process, once all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
  • The parties to the dispute or complaint shall be notified of the findings of the appeal.
  • At the end of any dispute or complaint procedure, actions taken shall be evaluated and procedures reviewed.

If any member of the School Community has a concern they wish to raise, please email principal@stmarks.wa.edu.au