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.

How to make a complaint

The first step is to contact the school or teacher. The exact process depends on the school's complaints policy.

Here are some example situations:

Complain about classroom issues
  1. Be clear about the issues and the facts of your complaint
  2. Contact your child’s classroom teacher to discuss your concerns.
  3. Allow some time for your complaint to be considered.
  4. Discuss how the complaint can be resolved with the teacher.
Complain about issues outside the classroom
  1. Be clear about the issues and facts of your complaint.
  2. Contact the principal or another staff member named in your school's complaints procedures. Explain your complaint as clearly as possible.
  3. Allow some time for them to consider your concerns and discuss them with any relevant school community members.
  4. Discuss their findings and how the complaint can be resolved.

If your complaint is justified possible outcomes might include:

  • an apology or expression of regret
  • a change of decision
  • a change of policy, procedure or practice
  • a refund of parent payments
  • student counselling or other support.
Complain about the principal

If you have a complaint about a principal, contact your closest regional office.

Ask to speak to the community liaison officer. They will help register your complaint and explain how we will consider it.

Allow time for the regional office staff to speak with the principal and anyone else involved. If the issue is complex it could take more than 20 school days.

When working through a complaint, everyone is expected to:

  • be considerate of each other’s views
  • focus on a solution
  • act with cooperation, respect and courtesy
  • respect privacy and confidentiality.

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

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.

If you're not satisfied with the school's response

School complaints must be made in this order:

  1. Speak to your school first. They are best equipped to resolve the issue.
  2. Contact your closest regional office if you're not satisfied with the school's response. Ask to speak to the community liaison officer. They will help register your complaint and explain how we will consider it. Allow time for the regional office staff to speak with the principal and anyone else involved. If the issue is complex it could take more than 20 school days.
  3. Contact our central office if you're not satisfied with the regional office response. We will work to resolve the issue or refer the complaint to the Independent Office for School Dispute Resolution.
  4. Contact the Victorian Ombudsmanif you're not satisfied with the response from the central office or independent office.

Despite the best intentions, it might not always be possible to resolve your complaint to your complete satisfaction. We can only resolve complaints in ways that are follow our values, policies and the law.

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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.

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.​