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Sorting out school problems

This advice applies to Scotland

If your child's having problems at school, it's usually best to talk to your child first and then talk to their teacher. If that doesn't solve the problem, there are other steps you can take.

Talk to your child and their teacher

Talk to your child if they're unhappy at school or you're worried about their education. Find out as much as you can. You might be able to solve the problem with your child if you can suggest things they can change to make things better.

If that doesn't work, you'll need to contact their teacher.

You should:

  • explain the problem to the teacher
  • ask what they can do to help and when
  • ask when they'll give you an update

If you email or write a letter to the teacher, keep a copy.

If you phone or talk face to face, make a note of the date and take notes of what you both say - at the time or straight afterwards. Your notes could help if you have to contact the school again about the problem.

If your child is struggling to learn or make friends, they might need extra support. You can speak to the the school's special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCo) or a staff member who deals with 'inclusion'.

Talk to the headteacher

If the teacher doesn't sort out the problem, you can ask to speak to the headteacher.

They might ask you to see someone else, such as a member of staff who deals with behaviour. You can still insist on talking to the headteacher if you prefer.

You should:

  • explain the problem to the headteacher
  • ask what they can do to help and when
  • ask when they'll give you an update

If you email or write a letter to the headteacher, keep a copy.

If you phone or talk face to face, make a note of the date and take notes of what you both say - at the time or straight afterwards. Your notes could help if you have to contact the school again or make a complaint.

Ask other parents

If the problem is something that affects several children at the school, you might want to speak to other parents. You can then take action together - for example, asking to speak at a parent teacher association (PTA) meeting or writing to the headteacher and governors.

You can ask the school office how to contact the PTA or you might find their contact details on the school website.

Make a formal complaint

If you're still not happy, you can make a formal complaint. All state schools should have a complaints procedure - ask the school for a copy or check on their website.

You'll usually need to email or write a letter to the headteacher and to the governing body telling them you're making a formal complaint. You'll need to explain the problem and why you're unhappy with what the school has done about it. You should keep a copy of everything you send.

If the school asks you to come to a meeting, you might want your child's other parent or a friend to go with you - tell the school if you want to do that. It's a good idea for one of you to take notes.

You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you want help with making a formal complaint.

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