Should I contact the Department about my complaint?
No, Under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by the school Board of Management, on behalf of the school patrons or trustees or Education and Training Board (known as the management authority). It is the management authority that employs the school’s teachers and other staff members. In ETB schools, the ETB is the employer. The school principal manages the school on a day to day basis.
As the Department has no role in the employment of staff in schools or schools’ day to day management, a complaint about the child’s school and its staff should be made to the school itself.
Accordingly, whereas the Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, the Department does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases.
Who do I contact when making a complaint about my child's school?
If you're worried about your child at school or you have a complaint about the school, your child's class teacher (or tutor) is the best person to approach first for an informal discussion.
If your complaint is about a staff member (excluding the principal), you should contact the school principal.
Complaints regarding the principal should be directed to management authority of the school.
How do I contact my child's teacher or school principal?
They will usually be in the classroom during the day, but you can leave a message with the school office asking the teacher/principal to contact you.
What if I am not happy with the teacher’s response?
If the teacher can't help, or if you are not satisfied with their response, you can talk to the principal of the school (depending on your complaint, a school’s own procedures may ask you to speak to another member of staff before speaking with the principal). You should be able to arrange a meeting or a telephone conversation through the school’s office.
What if I am not happy that the school principal has resolved my problem?
If you can't resolve a problem informally, the school should have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow. This procedure should lay out what you may have to do and how long it should take the school to deal with your complaint.
The standard complaints procedures have been agreed between school management authorities and teacher unions. These may give you a good idea of what is involved. Select from the list below to view the agreed procedures for that sector:
Typically, if having spoken with the school principal, you are still not happy that your complaint has been resolved you may contact the chairperson of the school’s management authority. In the case of ETB schools you may contact the Education and Training Board.
If the chairperson cannot resolve your complaint they should discuss the matter at a meeting of the management authority. Check with the chairperson if you should put your complaint in writing. Generally, only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents may be investigated formally by the management authority.
Shortly after reaching its decision, the management authority will let you know its decision on your complaint. This decision ends the school complaints process.
Can anybody else investigate my complaint?
In accordance with the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children provides an independent and impartial complaint handling service. Under section 9 of the Act, the Ombudsman for Children can investigate complaints relating to the administrative actions of a school recognised by the Department of Education and Skills provided the complainant has firstly and fully followed the school’s complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action complained of has or may have adversely affected the child.
More information about the Ombudsman for Children can be obtained on www.oco.ie or by contacting them at:
Address: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1
Phone: 01 865 6800 Free-phone: 1800 20 20 40
Who deals with teacher and principal under-performance and competency matters?
This is a matter for the school management authority. The relevant information can be accessed by clicking the following links:
Who deals with School Transport Complaints?
Please see information regarding school transport including Guidelines for Discipline and Procedures for Dealing with Alleged Misbehaviour on School Transport.
Who deals with complaints which are not school based?
Some Department programmes and services are delivered to the public through a range of organisations. There are separate arrangements for complaints about the State Examinations, 3rd level colleges, universities etc. You should contact these bodies directly for further information.
Where can I get information about Expulsions, Suspensions and Refusals to Enrol?
Information on Expulsions, Suspensions and Refusal to enrol.