1. Purpose of the policy 

Coventry Adult Education Service (CAES) is committed to providing high quality customer care in all aspects of our service to our learners, apprentices and stakeholders.  Our stakeholders include community partners, employers and awarding organisations. 

The purpose of this policy is to outline how learners, apprentices and other stakeholders can make a complaint and how we respond to complaints. 

We value complaints and use information from them to help us improve our service 

2. Scope of the policy 

For the purposes of this policy, CAES regards a complaint as an expression of dissatisfaction by one or more of our customers about our action, or lack of action, or about the standard of service we have provided. 

3. We accept complaints on aspects of our service, such as: 

  • a failure to provide a service 
  • an inadequate quality or standard of service 
  • the admissions process 
  • the disciplinary process 
  • a request for a service or for information which we have not actioned or answered 
  • our policies 
  • wrong information about academic programmes or our services 
  • the quality and availability of facilities and learning resources 
  • accessibility of our buildings or services 
  • the behaviour of a member of staff or contractor 
  • a learner’s or apprentices’ behaviour 
  • treatment by or attitude of a member of staff or contractor 
  • disagreement with a decision where you cannot use another procedure to resolve the matter 
  • our failure to follow the proper administrative process. 

Complaints may involve more than one aspect of our service or be about someone working on our behalf, such as a contractor. 

We do not accept complaints on the following: 

  • a routine first-time request for a service 
  • a request for information or an explanation of policy or practice 
  • a disagreement with academic judgement 
  • a claim for compensation against the service 
  • issues that are in court or have already been heard by a court or tribunal 
  • disagreement with a decision where a right of appeal exists 
  • a request for information under the Data Protection or Freedom of Information Acts 
  • a grievance by a member of staff 
  • an attempt to have us reopen or reconsider a complaint we have concluded or given our final decision on. 

If other procedures or rights of appeal can help resolve concerns, we will give information and advice to help resolve the situation. 

4. Making a complaint 

If something goes wrong, or a learner, apprentice or stakeholder is dissatisfied with our services, we would like to know so that we can respond accordingly.  It is easier for us to resolve complaints if they are made quickly and directly to the person concerned so we recommend that, where possible, anyone with a complaint first talks to a member of our staff in the relevant department/team. 

Anyone can make a complaint to us, including the representative of someone who is dissatisfied with our service. Please also read the section on ‘Getting help to make a complaint’. 

Complaints can be made in person, by phone, in writing, by email, or by using our complaints form. 

When complaining, we ask complainants for the following information: 

  • full name and address 
  • as much information as possible about the complaint 
  • what has gone wrong 
  • how you want us to resolve the matter. 

Normally, complaints should be made: 

  • within six months of the event that is being complained about, or 
  • within six months of finding out that there is a reason to complain, provided this is no longer than 12 months after the event itself. 

In exceptional circumstances, complaints may be accepted after the time limit, provided sufficient reason is given for the delay in complaining. 

We will always tell complainants who is dealing with their complaint. 

5. How to complain 

Our complaints procedure has two stages: 

Stage 1 – frontline resolution 

We aim to resolve complaints quickly and close to where we provided the service. This could mean an on-the-spot apology and explanation if something has clearly gone wrong and/or immediate action to resolve the problem. 

We will give our decision at Stage 1 in five working days or less, unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

If we cannot resolve a complaint at Stage 1, we will explain why and tell the complainant what they can do next. We might suggest that the complaint is taken to Stage 2. 

Stage 2 - investigation 

Stage 2 deals with two types of complaint: those that have not been resolved at Stage 1 and those that are complex and require detailed investigation. 

When using Stage 2 we will: 

  • acknowledge receipt of any complaint within three working days 
  • where appropriate, discuss the complaint with the person who has complained in order to understand why they are dissatisfied and what outcome they are looking for 
  • give a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and within 20 working days. 

If our investigation will take longer than 20 working days, we will inform the complainant.  We will agree revised time limits with the complainant and keep them updated on progress. 

If a complaint is not resolved after Stage 2: 

  • If a complaint is about the teaching or assessment received on an accredited course, the complaint may be referred to the awarding organisation (such as City and Guilds). At the start of a course, where relevant, all learners and apprentices are made aware of any formal qualifications they are working towards and the name of the awarding organisation. 
  • Complaints may also be raised with the appropriate funding body for the course: 
  • You may take up your complaint with Coventry City Council, as CAES is part of the Council 

6. Getting help to make a complaint 

We understand that some learners and apprentices may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint themselves. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, provided the learner or apprentice has given their representative consent to complain on their behalf.

Anyone who has difficulties putting their complaint in writing, can tell us in person. 

7. Monitoring and reviewing the policy and its impact 

The Curriculum Manager with responsibility for Quality will evaluate all complaints and produce an annual report on the level and type of complaints and how the service has responded. The report will be reviewed by the Service’s SLT. 

The Policy will be reviewed annually and renewed every 3 years. 

8. Equality and diversity impact assessment 

CAES is committed to reviewing its policies and procedures regularly and monitoring the impact of these on staff.  The Service will ensure all complaints are handled in accordance with the Equality and Diversity policy. 

9. Plan review and approval information

  • Frequency of review: Annual
  • Date of last review: July 2023
  • Date of next review: July 2024
  • Plan approved and signed by: Judy Hallam, Senior Lead – Adult Education. Coventry Adult Education Service 

CAES Complaints Policy on CAES website.