A meeting of the complaints committee is due to take place shortly. What is the format of the meeting? Do all parties sit in the same room together?
The committee should consider whether it is better to have everyone with an interest in the complaint at the meeting or whether it is better to meet them separately. Where relationships are strained or have broken down it may be better to have separate meetings. At any meeting, whoever is chairing should ensure that:
- everyone is introduced;
- it is understood that a decision will be made on the facts – and that the decision will be final;
- all relevant issues are addressed;
- people attending are put at ease;
- the meeting is conducted with respect and courtesy;
- everyone has the opportunity to speak and ask questions without interruption;
- the meeting does not become confrontational – if there is serious risk that this may happen, or the relationship between the complainant and others involved in the complaint has broken down, the committee should meet people separately.
During the meeting:
- the committee members may ask questions of any person;
- the chair will ask the complainant to explain their complaint;
- the chair will ask the headteacher or whoever is representing the school to explain findings of fact and any actions taken by the school;
- the chair will ask any witnesses to speak.
The intention is that:
- the committee understands the complaint so it is able to make a decision based on the facts;
- the complainant feels that they have said everything they want to say.