School complaints

You can raise concerns about your child's education.

Always speak to your school first. They can solve most problems.

This page is for complaints about Victorian government schools. Catholic and independent schools will have their own process.

If you think a child may be at risk of abuse or danger, call 000 or your local police station.

Before you make a complaint

Schools need to know if you have concerns about your child's education. Learning works best when you work with the school to solve any problems.

Before you approach your child's teacher or school:

  • be clear about the issues you want to discuss
  • focus on the facts and the things that affect your child
  • remember you may not have all the facts yet
  • think about how the matter could be resolved
  • check our policies and the school's policies. You can ask the school for a copy of their complaints policy, or it may be on their website.
  • be realistic about what the school can do.

Working through a complaint​​

When working through a complaint, everyone must:

  • listen to each other's views

  • work towards a solution

  • be cooperative, respectful and kind

  • respect people's privacy and keep things confidential

School staff will follow legislation (the law), Department policy and the code of conduct for Victorian public sector employees.​

​​How to make a complaint

The aim of this process is to resolve complaints with a focus on student wellbeing and keeping them engaged in learning.

School complaints must be made in this order:

  1. Speak to your school first. They will work with you to fix the issue.
  2. If you are still unhappy with the result, contact your closest regional office.
    Explain the issue, the Department staff member will help record your complaint and explain the steps they will take. You need to give the Department staff member time to speak with the principal and anyone else involved with the issue. If the issue is complex it could take a little longer to work through.
  3. If you are still unsatisfied with the result, contact our central office.
    The central office team will work to resolve the issue or refer eligible complaints to the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution.
  4. If you are still unhappy with the result, you can contact the Victorian Ombudsman.

It might not always be possible to resolve your complaint to your complete satisfaction. We can only resolve complaints in ways that are in line with Department values, policies and the law.

If you have a concern about a principal, and do not want to raise it directly with the principal, contact your closest regional office.


Use a support person

You can have a support person to help you at any time while making a complaint.

The support person can be someone in your family, a friend, community member or from a support agency.

The support person can:

  • help you clarify the issues
  • discuss difficulties you're having about the complaint
  • help create a good working relationship between you and the school
  • help you understand our policies and any resolutions proposed.

Let the principal know you want to use a support person when making the complaint. You should provide their name, contact details and relationship to you.

Policies

Schools must have a policy that explains how they will handle your complaint and give you a copy if you ask.

Schools and Department staff must also follow our general parent complaints policy.

It may be useful to read some of these common policies. The policies may control how we can resolve your issue:

Privacy

We must handle personal, sensitive and health information according to this legislation:

  • the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic)
  • and the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic).

The information you give us will be used to assess and respond to your complaint. This information is stored securely and used mainly by people who handle the complaint. Information may be used outside of the complaint handing process when necessary and allowed by law. For example, if there was a serious risk to the safety of some one.

Complaints may be escalated to the Department’s central process and/or referred to the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution to help resolve your complaint.

You can request access to information about you held by us. To request access, first speak with the person handling your complaint. You may need to lodge a freedom of information request.

You can also read the schools privacy policy and Department privacy policy.