Complaints to Independent Schools

What is the complaints procedure for a complaint against an Independent School?

Under the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010, Schedule 1, Part 7, paragraph 25, independent schools are required to publish a written complaints procedure which parents can request. Independent schools can have their own complaints procedure.

The school’s complaints policy should set out clear timescales for the complaint, allow for a complaint to be made and considered initially on an informal basis, establish a procedure for complaints to be made in writing and make provision for a hearing before a panel.

Before making a complaint to the school, it may be worth obtaining your child’s school records under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations.

It may also be worth looking through the contract that you have with the school to see if the school has breached this in any way. If you feel this is the case, it may be worth consulting with a solicitor specialising in contract law. You have 6 years to bring a breach of contract claim.

Below you will find a flowchart explaining the procedure for a complaint against an independent school.

Complaint against an independent schoolFlowchart



  • You should request a copy the school’s complaints procedure and take note of what it says.
  • Look through your contract with the school to see whether the school has breached any of the terms. A solicitor specialising in Contract Law should be able to assist you with this.
  • Write a letter to the school requesting a copy of your child’s education records under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998. These school records should be made available within 40 working days.
  • Write your complaint letter (see How to Guide-Complaints to Schools for further information and sample letter) and submit this in line with the process set out in the school’s Complaints Policy
  • If you are unhappy with the outcome of the internal complaints process you might wish to escalate your complaint. The Department for Education does provide standards for schools; if you feel the school are not meeting these standards you can make a complaint to the Independent Education and Boarding Team.
  • If you believe that the independent school requires inspection then you should contact the Independent Schools Inspectorate.


When can I complain to the Independent Schools Inspectorate?

The Independent Schools Inspectorate is a government approved inspectorate responsible for the inspection of Association independent schools.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate cannot investigate individual cases or disputes about fees. It cannot investigate complaints for children who no longer attend the school.

Details of the Independent Schools Inspectorate are here:

Independent Schools Inspectorate
CAP House
9-12 Long Lane
London EC1A 9HA

Tel: 0370 000 2288

Please note that the Local Government Ombudsman and Ofsted are not able to look into complaints about independent schools. 

Schools Inspection Service

The School Inspection Service (SIS) is an independent body established to carry out inspections of independent school in England under Section 109(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008. 

What if I have a complaint about a school or college for 16-18 year olds?

The Skills Funding Agency can consider complaints against schools and colleges for those over 16. Details are here:

The Skills Funding Agency 
Cheylesmore House 
Quinton Road 
Coventry CV1 2WT