‘Our vision is to give every child the opportunity to discover their unique strengths, identify their hopes and to empower them to shape their future.’

Complaints Policy

Date of Review October 2021
Signed: Charmaine Dugdale


At 1-2-1 Mentors we are proud of the quality of teaching and mentoring that is provided to children/young adults and we are committed to continuous improvement. We therefore welcome feedback and all concerns are considered seriously and always with a view to seeking a resolution at the earliest opportunity. It is 1-2-1 Mentors Policy to investigate all concerns and complaints in a timely and non-adversarial manner.

The aim of this Complaints Policy and Procedure is to ensure that every referrer, parent, carer and children/young adults involved with 1-2-1 Mentors understands our policy and has access to an informal and formal procedure that supports and enables them to raise concerns or complain about any aspect of our provision and service. It is important to stress that this policy and procedure is in place for all referrers, parents, carers and children/young adults. Staff who have concerns or complaints are expected to raise these through the grievance policy and procedure.

Initial Concerns:

At the outset of any concern being raised staff must be clear about the difference between a concern and complaint. Taking informal concerns seriously at the earliest stage will reduce the numbers that develop into formal complaints. The underlying principle is that concerns ought to be handled, if possible, without the need for formal procedures. The requirement to have a complaints procedure should not in any way undermine efforts to resolve the concern informally. In most cases the teacher/mentor, mentor or the individual delivering the service will receive the first approach.
It would be helpful for everyone if staff are able to resolve issues on the spot, including apologising where appropriate.

Formal Procedures:

The formal procedures will need to be invoked when initial attempts to resolve the issue are unsuccessful and the person raising the concern remains dissatisfied and wishes to take the matter further. Charmaine Dugdale is the nominated member of staff with responsibility for the operation and management of 1-2-1 Mentors complaints procedure.

Framework of Principles:

The Complaints Policy and Procedure will:

  • encourage resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
  • be easily accessible and publicised;
  • be simple to understand and use;
  • be non-adversarial;
  • allow swift handling with established time‑limits for action and keeping people informed;
  • ensure a full and fair investigation by an independent person where necessary;
  • respect people’s desire for confidentiality;
  • address all the points at issue and provide an effective response and appropriate redress, where necessary;
  • provide information to 1-2-1 Mentors so that services can be improved.

Complaints; The Policy

We want everyone involved with 1-2-1 Mentors to be able to tell us if they think we are doing something wrong or acting unfairly in any way. Our policy is that, when concerns are raised or complaints are made, we will do everything in our power to put things right as quickly as possible.

We recognise that it is essential to be open to criticism/complaint from any source and that only by being open to criticism or complaints can we hope to improve our service and the attainment of the young people we see. Therefore, we welcome concerns and complaints.

Concerns and complaints are often caused by simple mistakes or misunderstandings, or thoughts and feelings that have not been aired or acknowledged. We would anticipate that these and other issues can be quickly and informally resolved through improved communication and immediate response. At other times, or if an informal complaint is not resolved to the complainant's satisfaction, it may be necessary to use the formal complaints procedure. It is important that this choice is always available.


The following standards set out clearly the responsibilities of managers and staff for responding to and resolving concerns and complaints when they are first raised, unless they are of a very serious nature or are about the Director in which case the matter will be dealt with as a formal complaint under the procedure set out below.

Staff: responding to Concerns and/or Complaints in an informal manner:

When a concern or complaint is first raised all staff should keep in mind ways in which it could be resolved. It might be sufficient to acknowledge that the concern or complaint is valid in whole or in part. In addition, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:

  • an apology;
  • an explanation;
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better; an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
  • an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
  • an undertaking to review 1-2-1 Mentors policies, considering the complaint.

All concerns or complaints must be written up and reported to the Director with a clear explanation of what the concern or complaint was, what was done about it and whether the complainant was satisfied with the response.
If the concern or complaint cannot be resolved or the complainant is not satisfied the matter should be referred to the Director for investigation and the complainant informed that this action has been taken.

The Director must ensure, when they investigate complaints, that they:

  • establish what has happened so far, and who has been involved;
  • clarify the nature of the complaint and what remains unresolved;
  • meet with the complainant or contact them (if further information is necessary)
  • clarify what the complainant feels would put things right;
  • interview those involved in the matter, allow them to be accompanied if they wish
  • Keep notes of the interview.
  • conduct the interview with an open mind / be prepared to persist in questioning (NB 1-2-1 Mentors will also need to share the nature of complaint with the referrer and if appropriate the referrer may need to be involved in the formal complaints procedure).

Complainants will be encouraged to state what actions they feel might resolve the problem at any stage during the resolution of the complaint. This procedure should identify areas of agreement between the parties and clarify any misunderstandings that might have occurred to ensure that a positive atmosphere to discuss any outstanding issues will be created.

Complaints: The Formal Procedure

We expect that most concerns/complaints will be dealt with in the manner set out above. In most cases any concern/ complaint, regardless of whose attention it is initially brought to It should be discussed informally (stage 1) before being submitted at any of the following consecutive formal stages.

However, occasionally there will be circumstances under which it’s unsuitable for Complaints to be dealt with in this way.

In all cases where the complaint concerns the director directly, the complaint will go to (stage 3) of the formal complaints’ procedure. In some cases, it may be deemed inappropriate for individuals to discuss their concerns informally, in addition, it would be appropriate for the referrer to be informed.

In such cases, complainants must be directed to contact the Director directly. Complainants may choose to contact the Director directly of their own accord (stage 2). In these cases, it will be at the discretion of the Director as to whether or not it is appropriate for the complainant to discuss the matter informally (stage 1).

Who is allowed to complain?

This policy may be used by anyone who has a concern or complaint about any aspect of the provision. In the main this will mean the children/young adults, or the parents or carers, but may include the County Council, partner agencies, neighbours of the center, or any other members of the local community.

Aims and objectives of the policy

This complaints policy aims to:

  • Encourage the resolution of problems by informal means wherever possible;
  • Ensure that concerns are dealt with quickly, fully and fairly and within clearly defined time limits
  • Provide effective responses and appropriate redress;
  • Maintain good working relationships between all people involved with the service.

Monitoring complaints

At all formal stages of the complaints procedure, the following information will be recorded:

  • The name of the complainant;
  • The date and time at which complaint was made;
  • The details of the complaint
  • The desired outcome of the complainant;
  • How the complaint is investigated (including written records of interviews held);
  • Results and conclusions of investigations;
  • Any action taken;
  • The complainant’s response (satisfaction or further pursuit of complaint).

The Director will act as the ‘complaints co‑ordinator’, and will have the responsibility for the operation and management of 1-2-1 Mentors complaints policy and will be responsible for monitoring complaints.

Records will be retained for the periods specified in the procedure guidance. The only instance where the Director will NOT act as the ‘complaints co‑ordinator’ will be when the complaint is made against theDirector and has reached the Formal stage.

In this instance the Operational Manager will take on the ‘complaints co‑ordinator’ role and thecomplaint will go straight to Stage 3.

Upholding or not upholding complaints

At each stage of the complaint’s procedure, the conclusion will be either

  • That the complaint is upheld (in part or in full) &, where appropriate, some form of action is taken.
  • That the complaint is not upheld and reasons for this are clearly given.

    In the first instance, it may be appropriate to offer one or more of the following:
  • an apology;
  • an explanation;
  • an admission that the situation could have been handled differently or better;
  • an assurance that the event complained of will not recur;
  • an explanation of the steps that have been taken to ensure that it will not happen again;
  • an undertaking to review school policies in light of the complaint.

In the second instance, the complainant may either choose to take no further action or to take their complaint to the next relevant stage.

Publicity and communication

All staff and members of 1-2-1 Mentors will be made aware of the complaint’s procedure in their staff induction.
At all stages of the complaint’s procedure, everybody involved will be clear about what is happening and what their responsibilities are. Written records will be kept as evidence of procedures followed. In addition, the complainant will be told how to proceed to the next stage of the procedure if and when their complaint is not upheld.


Confidentiality is vital. All conversations and correspondence will be treated with discretion. Complainants have the right to know what use will be made of personal information and accordingly, personal information will only be shared between staff on a ‘need to know’ basis.

Equal access, accompaniment and representation

Steps will be taken to ensure that any individual has the opportunity to raise their concerns or submit a formal complaint. This includes the right to be accompanied or represented by afriend or relative at discussions and hearings and/or to submit formal complaints which have been written by another individual on their behalf. Should any meeting need to be held where any parties would have difficulties in terms of access, we will assist with providing an appropriate venue. It is an expectation that equal respect will be granted to each person involved within the process and that differences between people will be respected and understood.

Time between stages

Although each of the stages within the procedure should occur consecutively, it is not necessary for each stage to immediately follow the last. Complainants may need some time to decide whether or not they wish to pursue the matter any further. After each stage, the complainant and the individual who is dealing with their complaint at that time should agree an appropriate time limit within which the next stage should be accessed, if at all. If the complaint is not submitted to the next stage within this agreed time limit it will be considered as closed.

Changes to time limits and deadlines

In general, the time limits and deadlines contained within this policy should be adhered to. However, in certain circumstances it may be deemed inappropriate or impossible to guarantee that this is possible. Where a complaint leads to criminal proceedings this will always be the case. If and when it becomes necessary to alter the time limits and deadlines set out within this policy, the complainant should be told and given an explanation as to why this has been the case.


If at any stage, as the result of a complaint, a decision or course of action is taken with regards to an individual (apart from the complainant) which they feel is ungrounded, unjustified or incorrect they have the right to appeal. 1-2-1 Mentors appeal procedures will facilitate this.

The Steps in the Complaints Process are outlined below in detail:

1. When a complaint is made, whether formally or informally, it must always be recorded, to show the date and time of the complaint being made; the name of the person making it; the nature of their complaint; any response required/given; and the name of the person(s) dealing with it. Details of any complaint must always be carefully recorded, along with any supporting information such as to whom the complaint was made or evidence in support of the complaint.

2. Information about any complaint made must be passed immediately to a senior manager at 1-2-1 Mentors, for them to make an initial assessment as to its seriousness and to monitor how complaints are being handled.

3. A decision must also be made at this stage as to how and when to inform any third party(ies) who may be the subject of the complaint.

4. The person making the complaint must be given the opportunity for their complaint to be dealt with informally in the first instance, (stage 1) with the assurance that their complaint will be taken seriously. They must also be assured that if they are not satisfied with the response they are given, they have the right to make their complaint formal.

5. When a formal complaint is made, it must be recorded in the ‘Complaints File’ and given a reference number based upon the date the complaint is received, the name of the person dealing with it, the name of the centre and programme involved and the initials of the person making the complaint. (Stage 2)
For example: Complaint reference number - 30.9.04 / (PR) / site name / (CI)

6. The reference number and name of person dealing with the complaint must be given to the person making the complaint within 24 HOURS or 1 WORKING DAY of the complaint being received.

7. The matter should then be looked into and responded to, if not in full, within 3 WORKING DAYS, providing written details of how the matter has been dealt with or the timescale during which it will be investigated and fully addressed.

8. A written record will be kept throughout of all communication and actions planned or taken, so that the progress of any investigation can be monitored. The records will indicate whether the complaint was resolved satisfactorily at the preliminary stage or proceeded to a panel hearing.

9. The person assigned to investigate the matter must be independent of the substance of the complaint. If necessary, a senior member of staff/referrer may be asked to undertake the investigation.

10. If the complaint cannot for any reason be investigated and responded to fully within 3 WORKING DAYS, the complainant should receive a written and verbal explanation stating what steps have been taken and the time frame for completion. The process of investigation and response should not exceed 10 WORKING DAYS, except in rare and exceptional circumstances. If this does occur it is vital that the Complainant is informed as to when they may expect a full response. It is essential throughout that the Complainant is kept fully informed of the progress of their complaint.

12. Where the Complainant wishes to appeal against the response provided, an Appeal hearing will be arranged by the Director of 1-2-1 Mentors. The appeal will be heard by a panel of at least 3 people, who have not previously been involved in the Complaint. At least one panel member will be independent of the management and running of the service.

13. The complainant may attend the panel meeting and may also be accompanied by a friend.

14. The Appeal hearing will be arranged and an Appeals panel convened by the Director within 15 working days, with at least three working days’ notice given.

15. Panel members will be asked to consider the substance of the original complaint and the response provided to this complaint by the Director. They will then be free to make their own findings and recommendations.

16. The outcome of any Appeal hearing will be formally recorded and copies of the findings and recommendations distributed within 5 working days to the Complainant, the Operational Manager, Director, 1-2-1 Mentors and, where possible, any person(s) about whom the complaint has been made.


This policy sets out the procedures which 1-2-1 Mentors will follow whenever it receives a complaint. A summary of the various stages is given below:

Primary Responsibility:

  • Informal discussion and resolution Informal Stage - mentors/teachers
  • Investigation by Director Formal Stage – operational Manager

Each of these stages will usually occur in order and there will usually be no return to previous stages (exceptions to this are noted within the procedure). It is stressed that the majority of complaints are resolved on an informal basis (stage 1).

Issues related to child protection, criminal investigations and employee grievances will be handled separately from this policy. This complaints policy is distinct from formal staff disciplinary proceedings and this should be made clear to all concerned. There may be occasions where a complaint gives rise to disciplinary procedures which put the complaints process on hold. If and when this occurs, the complainant should be informed. Any non‑disciplinary aspects of the complaint should continue to be dealt with through the usual complaints procedures. If another policy is more appropriate than this complaints policy for any given situation then it should be used in preference to it.

Who to speak to informally:

Individuals may decide to raise their concerns with 1-2-1 Mentors administrative staff, teacher, mentor, or Operational Manager depending on their wishes and the type of issues they want to discuss.

Monitoring :

A brief note of all such issues should be kept on file.

Appeal Hearing

The hearing should allow each party involved to explain their understanding or interpretation of events and for other parties to question them. The hearing will, therefore, usually operate according to the following format:

  • The chair will introduce all parties to one another and explain the principles, objectives and format of the hearing
  • The complainant will be given the opportunity to explain their complaint. Following this the Director and the complaints committee will be allowed to ask the complainant questions.
  • The Director will then be given an opportunity to explain the Alternative provisions official response, interpretation or view about the complaint. Following this the complainant and committee will be allowed to question the Director.
  • Every party will be given the opportunity to call witnesses and question witnesses called by other parties.
  • The Director and the complainant will both be given the chance to give final statements.
  • The hearing will be concluded by the chair who should explain that the committee will consider its decision and write to both parties within 5 working days informing them of the outcome.

After the hearing

The committee will then consider the complaint and all the evidence presented and:

  • Reach a unanimous, or at least a majority decision, on the complaint;
  • Decide upon the appropriate action (if any) to be taken;
  • Where appropriate, suggest changes to, or request a review of, the education provision’s systems or procedures to ensure that problems of a similar nature do not happen again. This information will be included in both the letters to the Director and the complainant.

Complaints Policy: Children/young adult Procedures

It is the aim of 1-2-1 Mentors to ensure that all of the children/young adults who attend the alternative provision have access to and understand the policy and procedures relating to the Complaints Policy.

The aim of this Complaints Policy and Procedure is to ensure that every parent and child/young adult involved in 1-2-1 Mentors has access to an informal and formal process in which to complain about any aspect of 1-2-1 Mentors service provision.

Children/young person Concerns and Complaints

Children/young person will be encouraged to take full advantage of the procedures involved in this policy if they want to make a complaint using the process, informally or formally. A member of staff that the pupil is comfortable with can help the children/young adults complete the complaints form by writing the words for him/her, or by giving moral support whilst the children/young adults is discussing their complaint with the teacher or other person in the early stages of the process.
All children/young adults will be encouraged to ask for support in either of the above ways to ensure they feel confident and secure in making a complaint following the recommended procedures in this policy.

Provision of Complaints forms to each child/young person and their parents/carers

It is vital that all children/young persons and their parents/carers are given a complaints form at the home visit.

All children and young adults are regularly review by the referring agency and therefore have an additional opportunity to raise any concerns about the 1-2-1 Mentors service provision.

It is considered good practice that for any formal complaints raised that the referring agency is informed, and that the complainant is given access to the referrers complaints procedure.