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Sorting out school problems

This advice applies to Wales

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.

If your child's being bullied, you need to talk to the school - start by contacting your child's form teacher. Don't leave your child to sort it out alone. You can get advice on dealing with bullying from the Anti-Bullying Alliance.

Some bullying is illegal, including assault or sending frequent threatening texts - you should tell the police. You can find out about reporting illegal bullying to the police on GOV.UK.

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'.

You can find out more about special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) on GOV.UK.

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.

If your child is excluded

You can ask the headteacher to shorten or cancel the exclusion if you think it's wrong.

Check what a school should do when it excludes a pupil on GOV.UK.

You can find out about challenging an exclusion on ACE's website. ACE is a charity that gives parents information and advice about education.

If your child is permanently excluded, you can contact the School Exclusion Project - especially if your child has special educational needs or a disability. The School Exclusion Project offers free advice and legal help with permanent exclusions.

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.

Talk to governors

If you're not satisfied with the way that teachers and the headteacher have dealt with the problem, you can ask the school's governing body to discuss the problem.

Ask the school how to contact the governors or look on the school's website for their contact details.

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.

Complain to your local education authority

If your formal complaint doesn't solve the problem, you might be able to complain to your local education authority (LEA).

Your LEA is the local council that deals with education in your area - you can find your LEA on GOV.UK. Your LEA will let you know if they can help with your problem.

You can't complain to your local education authority if your child goes to a:

  • free school
  • academy
  • private school

You can find out what to do instead on GOV.UK.

If your complaint hasn't solved the problem

You can find out what to do if you've made a formal complaint but you're still unhappy on GOV.UK.

Get more help

You can:

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