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Procedures for Handling School Complaints
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Policy and Procedure on Handling School Complaints

Part 1 Summary: Guideline for Handling School Complaints

The Education Bureau issued the Guidelines for Handling School Complaints (Revised Version) in September 2014 and required all schools in the public sector to formulate a school-based mechanism and procedures according to their own situation and needs. 

1.1 Purposes of the guideline

 

The principles, procedures and arrangements proposed in the Guideline are designed to help schools handle complaints more speedily and effectively in response to reasonable demands from complainants.

 

 

1.2 Scope of Application of the guideline

 

Schools are responsible for handling complaints about the daily operations and internal affairs of schools. The EDB is responsible for handling complaints about the Education Ordinance and education policies and services provided by the EDB.

The Guideline is not applicable to the handling of the following types of complaints: 

  • Complaints related to ongoing legal proceedings; 
  • Complaints under the jurisdiction of other organisations/government departments; 
  • Complaints governed by other ordinances or statutory regulations such as complaints against corruption, fraud or theft; 
  • Complaints lodged by school staff (if a school receives any such complaints, it should handle them in accordance with the specifications of the school-based or the sponsoring body’s mechanism and guidelines for staff complaints [if applicable]; if the EDB receives such complaints, it will handle them in accordance with the current procedures and reply to the complainant direct.) 

In general, schools need not handle the following types of complaints: 

  • Anonymous complaints unless when there is sufficient evidence or when the case is serious or urgent; 
  • Complaints not made by the person concerned -- anyone who seeks to file a complaint on behalf of the person concerned has to obtain his/her prior written consent; 
  • Complaints involving incidents that happened more than one year ago; 
  • Complaints with insufficient information 

1.3 Guiding Principles for Handling Complaints

Principle I: Handling of complaints by the appropriate party/parties

Schools should handle those complaints relating to their daily operations and internal affairs, and the EDB should handle those complaints concerning the Education Ordinance and education policies and services. Complaints involving other laws of Hong Kong should be lodged to and handled by the relevant law enforcement agencies (e.g. the ICAC, Hong Kong Police Force, Equal Opportunities Commission, etc.). If a complaint involves both school(s) and the EDB, it should be handled by the particular school(s) and related division(s)/section(s) of the EDB.


Principle II: Timely and efficient handling

Schools should handle and respond to all verbal or written inquiries, opinions or complaints as soon as possible to prevent any uninviting situation from worsening. Upon receipt of an inquiry/a complaint, the frontline staff should either directly handle it or immediately refer it to the designated staff/task force for action. If the responsible staff cannot resolve the problem, they should seek help from their seniors.

 

Principle III: Clear and transparent mechanism

Schools should, in collaboration with their sponsoring bodies, set up a clear and effective school-based mechanism as well as procedures for speedy and proper handling of inquiries and complaints. They should consult teachers and parents to ensure that the relevant procedures are accepted by all stakeholders.

Schools should prepare guidelines for stakeholders on the relevant policies, procedures and responsible staff for handling complaints. They may make parents and staff fully aware of the details of the procedures through different channels, e.g. school websites, circulars, student handbooks, staff meetings, parent-teacher meetings, seminars and school events.

To facilitate smooth implementation of the school-based mechanism, schools should ensure that all staff responsible for handling inquiries and complaints understand and comply with the relevant policies and guideline. To enhance mutual understanding and strengthen home-school co-operation, schools should draw up strategies for regular communication with parents through different channels, e.g. briefings/information folders for new students and their parents, circulars issued at the beginning of each school year, etc. to inform them of the policies and procedures of complaint handling.

Schools should regularly review their complaint handling policies and guidelines by consulting its staff and parents, and revise the handling procedures whenever necessary.

 
Principle IV: Fair and impartial handling

Schools should approach complaints positively and treat the complainants and respondents of the complaints fairly. Schools should ensure that sufficient appeal channels are provided and consider inviting independent persons to participate in the complaint/appeal handling process, if necessary.

Before an investigation begins or where appropriate, the designated staff and related individuals should declare interests. If there is any conflict of interest, the persons concerned should not be involved in handling the case or have access to information relating to it.

To avoid conflict of interest, any staff member who is the respondent of the complaint should not be involved in handling the case, supervising the investigation, or signing and issuing letters to the complainant.

Schools should see to it that the rights of the complainants or other persons involved in the complaint are being protected and that their future communication and contact with the school would not be affected.

 

Part 2 School Policy Statement 

2.1 La Salle College endorses the EDB Guideline for handling complaints and sets out in this document the policy and procedures in accord with the guideline to handle school complaints. 

2.2 La Salle College strives to handle complaints positively, with patience and understanding, and provide prompt responses within an appropriate time frame. It believes that complaints are valuable pieces of information for reflection and review of existing policies and practices. It also believes that an effective school-based complaint handling mechanism not only increases public confidence in school governance, but also prevents public opinions/inquiries from evolving into formal complaints or unnecessarily escalating to the EDB or other government departments/organisations.

2.3 To ensure that public inquiries/complaints are handled in a proper manner, in formulating its school-based complaint handling mechanism and procedures, La Salle College takes account of the following requirements:

  • Clear and unambiguous
  • Open and transparent
  • Concise and easy to follow
  • Fair and just
  • Free from undue influence or interference
  • Open to all parties for their right to appeal
  • Able to protect privacy of all parties and confidentiality of information
  • Under continuous review and improvement
     

2.4 La Salle College maintains a close partnership with parents and staff by enhancing communication with them. It encourages all its members of staff to deal with concerns and complaints lying within their area of responsibility and try to clear up misunderstandings at an early stage. It always assumes an open attitude and listens to the views of its sponsoring body and stakeholders to identify room for improvement regarding its school-based inquiry/complaint handling mechanism and procedures.

2.5 La Salle College provides proper education and training to its staff and stakeholders for handling school complaints. It also reviews its existing policies, procedures and measures regularly for the continuous improvement of their administration.


Part 3 Handling School Complaints
 

3.1 Differentiating between concerns and complaints

The school may receive inquiries, opinions or complaints from stakeholders or the public. All staff members should be able to distinguish concerns from complaints and decide the appropriate procedures to handle them:

A concern refers to the inquiry or opinion expressed by the stakeholders for the interests of themselves, their children or the school, with a view to changing or improving the existing situation.

A complaint is an expression of disappointment, dissatisfaction or grievance expressed by the complainant. They may demand the school to rectify its mistakes, take disciplinary action against the suspected offenders, or resolve the issue(s) raised in the complaint. Complaints can be further classified into informal complaints and formal complaints.

3.2 Informal Complaint Handling Procedures

In general, if the case does not require an investigation involving evidence collection, or the person concerned does not request a formal written reply, the frontline staff may handle the matter following the informal complaint handling procedures of the school.

On receiving an inquiry, opinion or informal complaint, the frontline staff should listen to the concerns of the inquirer/complainant with care and understanding. If the incident is not serious, they should provide whatever assistance or information required or promptly respond to the concerns raised by the inquirer/complainant and help resolve the problems involved.

If necessary, the school staff in charge of the relevant issue should be informed and they should have direct talks or interviews with the person(s) concerned to explain the schools’ stance and remove any misunderstanding, misgivings or worries of them. The time limit for an initial response is set to be within two working days.

Oral replies will suffice and written replies are normally not required. For opinions/complaints which are presented in written form, the responsible staff may decide whether a simple written reply to the person(s) concerned/complainant is appropriate. If an inquiry/complaint has been answered or resolved instantly, it is suggested that the designated staff or the principal may record the key points in a log book for future reference.

If necessary, the responsible staff may brief the person(s) concerned on the follow-up actions that the school has adopted and the results that follow.

If the complainant still does not accept the school’s response or the problem remains unresolved, the formal complaint investigation procedures (including an appeal mechanism) should be initiated.

3.3 Formal Complaint Investigation Procedures

3.3.1 Identifying the domain that the complaints fall into

Domain Example
Management and Organisation
  • School accounts (e.g. accounting records)
  • Other charges (e.g. extra-curricular activities charges and registration fees)
  • School policies (e.g. system of reward and penalty, arrangements regarding students’ suspension from school)
  • Standards of contractors’ services (e.g. school bus services, supply of meal boxes)
  • Service contracts (e.g. tendering procedures)
  • School environment and hygiene (e.g. noise pollution, mosquitoes problems)
Learning and Teaching
  • School-based curriculum (e.g. subject lesson time)
  • Selection of subjects and class allocation (e.g. arrangements for students’ choice of subjects)
  • Homework (e.g. amount of homework, school-based assessment criteria)
  • Students assessment (e.g. assessment criteria)
  • Staff performance (e.g. behaviour/attitudes of teaching staff, job performance)
School Ethos and Student Support
  • School ethos (e.g. uniform and other aspects of appearance)
  • Home-school cooperation (e.g. consultation mechanism, communication channels)
  • Student support (e.g. support for students with special educational needs)
  • Extra-curricular activities (e.g. arrangements for interest groups and other student activities)
Student Performance
  • Students’ overall performance (e.g. academic results, conduct)
  • Student discipline (e.g. foul and abusive language, smoking, fighting, bullying)

 

3.3.2 Designated staff for handling formal complaints including appeals
Taking into account the nature of the complaint, its scope and the people involved, the school may assign a designated staff or set up a task force to handle the complaint with reference to the following arrangements

  1. Staff members who are responsible for the appeal stage should be different from those responsible for the investigation stage. In principle, the staff dealing with the appeal should be of a higher rank than those responsible for the investigation. If this is not practicable, the school would make other arrangements, such as appointing staff from another department, to ensure fair handling.
  2. Where necessary, the school/sponsoring body may establish a task force to handle special complaint cases. Depending on the situation, the task force may include members of the IMC and representatives from the school sponsoring body. To enhance credibility, the school may invite independent persons such as social workers, lawyers, psychologists, and parents or teachers not involved in the case to join the task force to provide professional advice and support.
  3. The appointed staff should be proactive in communicating with the inquirers/complainants, and prompt in providing responses as well as the information they need. The school will also ensure that frontline/ designated staff have proper authorisation and clearly understand their roles and responsibilities.
  4. Concerning the deployment of staff for handling complaints at different stages, please refer to the examples in the table below:
Target of the Complaint Example Investigation Stage Appeal Stage
Subject Teachers 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
3 Principal Supervisor
Form Teachers 1 Vice Principal (Pastoral) Principal
2 Principal Supervisor
Student support team teachers 1 Functional Heads Vice Principal (Pastoral)
2 Discipline Master Vice Principal (Pastoral)
3 Deans Vice Principal (Pastoral)
4 Members of Pastoral teams e.g. Guidance, discipline, Careers Vice Principal (Pastoral)
5 Vice Principal (Pastoral) Principal
6 Principal Supervisor
Learning and Teaching in school 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Members of Academic teams e.g. Assessment, Placement, Learning Support, Timetable Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
3 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
4 Principal Supervisor
Extra-curricular activities 1 Club Advisors Vice Principal (Pastoral)
2 ECA Coordinator Vice Principal (Pastoral)
3 Principal Supervisor
Students’ academic performance 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
3 Principal Supervisor
School administration 1 Office Staff School secretary
2 Janitor Staff School secretary
3 School secretary Principal
4 Principal Supervisor
Principal 1 Supervisor Designated staff of school sponsoring body#
Supervisor/IMC member 1 Designated staff of school sponsoring body# Designated staff of school sponsoring body#/Task Force*

# Designated staff could be the staff or the person in charge of the education office of the school sponsoring body.

* If a complaint involves the Supervisor or IMC member, the IMC investigation/appeal task force may include independent persons

3.3.3 Investigation stage
Any formal complaints (including those referred by the EDB or other organisations) should be handled according to the following procedures:

  1. The sponsoring body, the IMC, the supervisor, and/or the Principal will be responsible for assigning appropriate staff to investigate the complaint and reply to the complainant in accordance with the situation and after declaration of interest;
  2. Acknowledge receipt of the complaint, seek the complainant’s consent to obtain his/her personal data and information relating to the complaint, and inform him/her of the name, post title and phone number of the staff responsible for handling the case for contact purposes. Samples of Acknowledgement Letters are provided in Appendices I and II;
  3. If necessary, contact the complainant and other persons involved or arrange meetings with them in order to have a better grasp of the situation or request them to provide relevant information;
  4. Handle the complaint as quickly as possible (It is suggested that the investigation should be completed within two working weeks after receiving the complaint.), and send a written reply to inform the complainant of the investigation result;
  5. If the complainant accepts the investigation result, conclude the case officially; and 
  6. If the complainant does not accept the investigation result or the way the school handled the complaint, and is able to provide new evidence or sufficient justification, he/she may lodge an appeal in writing against the school’s decision within 14 working days from the date of its reply.

3.3.4 Appeal stage

Procedures for appeal cases are as follows:

  1. The sponsoring body, the supervisor, the IMC and/or the Principal will be responsible for assigning appropriate staff of a higher rank than those responsible for the investigation stage, or staff from a different section, to handle the appeal and reply to the complainant in accordance with the situation and after declaration of interest;
  2. Handle and resolve the appeal as quickly as possible (within two weeks after receiving the request for appeal), and send a written reply to inform the complainant of the appeal result;
  3. If the complainant accepts the appeal result, conclude the case officially;
  4. If the complainant does not accept the appeal result or the way the school handled the appeal, the school should cautiously review the appeal process to ensure that proper procedures have been followed.
  5. If the complainant raises other new allegations, the school will handle them separately in order to avoid mixing up the old complaints with the new ones.

3.3.5 Responding to complaints/appeals
If the complaint or appeal is in written form, the school will respond with a written reply. If the complaint is made verbally, the responsible staff may decide whether to respond orally or in writing. If the case is referred by the EDB/other organisation(s), a copy of the written reply should be forwarded to them for reference.

Generally speaking, the time limit for replying to a complaint/appeal should start from the date on which it is received or when the complainant agrees to let the school have access to his/her personal data. If the information submitted is incomplete, the time limit should start from the date on which the school receives from the complainant the necessary information. If a reply cannot be given within the specified period, the school will explain to the complainant in writing why a longer handling time is needed.

3.3.6 Complaint/appeal records
The school will keep a clear record of cases handled by the formal complaint investigation procedures. A sample complaint record is given in Appendix III. The school establishes a complaint record management system to store relevant information (including correspondences, investigation reports and interview records), and keep statistics of complaints and appeals lodged through either the informal or formal handling procedures for future reference.

3.3.7 Appropriate follow-up
At the end of the investigation/appeal stage, there should be a review concerning whether the complaint handling policies and procedures are appropriate, and suggest proper measures to improve the method of handling and to prevent similar incidents from recurring. The staff in charge should inform the person(s) concerned of the school’s follow-up actions and outcome of the review.

3.4 Confidentiality
All content and information of complaints should be kept strictly confidential and restricted to internal reference or reference by relevant persons only.

When personal data are to be collected or requests for disclosure of data/records are received during the handling process in respect of the complaint case, the regulations and recommendations laid down in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance should be observed. This includes clearly stating the purpose and the form of collection of personal data, and that the data will only be used for handling the complaint or appeal cases.

Appropriate security measures should be adopted to protect personal data and privacy, such as keeping the data in safe places (e.g. cabinets under lock and key). Computer data should be protected by passwords. Use of portable data storage devices should be tightly controlled. Where necessary, encrypted portable data storage devices should be used.

Only authorised persons are allowed access to information relating to the case. The responsible persons should not disclose or discuss in public any contents or information relating to the case without authorisation.

To avoid misunderstanding, the following measures should be applied:

  1. State clearly whether the person(s) concerned can be accompanied by others (e.g. relatives, legal representatives) during the interview/meeting and reiterate this stance before the interview/meeting starts; and
  2. Indicate before the interview/meeting starts whether audio/video recording is prohibited or whether the consent of all attendees must be obtained if the session is to be audio/video recorded. This stance should be reiterated before the end of the interview/meeting.

Part 4 Handling Unreasonable Behaviour

4.1 Concerns for complainants’ unreasonable behaviour
Appropriate communication and mediation are conducive to removing misunderstanding and enhancing mutual trust. Under general circumstances, there should not be any restrictions to stop complainants from making contact with the school. However, sometimes certain unreasonable behaviour of complainants may have a negative impact on the school, e.g. draining a considerable amount of the school’s human resources, interrupting the school’s operations or services, as well as threatening the safety of staff and other stakeholders. Therefore, appropriate policies and measures have to be developed to handle this kind of unreasonable behaviour.

4.2 Definition of unreasonable behaviour
Complainants’ unreasonable behaviour can generally be classified into the following three types:
(i) Unreasonable attitude or behaviour, such as:

  • Acts of violence or intimidation
  • Making complaints with abusive language or in an insulting and discriminatory tone
  • Providing false data or deliberately concealing facts

(ii) Unreasonable demands, such as:

  • Requesting a huge amount of information or demanding special treatment
  • Making telephone calls incessantly to ask for a dialogue or an interview, or to command a certain staff member to reply
  • Commanding a certain staff member to meet at a specific time and place

(iii) Unreasonable persistent complaints, such as:

  • Insisting on rejecting the explanations and findings of the school/EDB, and/or requiring the school/EDB to discipline certain person(s), even after appropriate investigation procedures have been taken
  • In respect of the same case, repeatedly making the same complaints or presenting similar justifications as before without providing any new evidence
  • In respect of the same case, persistently bringing in new allegations or new complaint targets, but failing to present concrete evidence
  • Interpreting things in an unreasonable or irrational manner, or wrangling over trivial details

4.3 Strategies for handling unreasonable behaviours

(i) Unreasonable attitude or behaviour

  • Any unreasonable attitude or behaviour, including acts of violence, intimidation, and abusive/offensive conduct or language, whether performed face-to-face, by phone, or in writing are unacceptable. The staff member handling the complaint should convey this message clearly to the complainant and demand that he/she stop acting in such a way. If the complainant refuses to comply after the warning, the staff member may terminate the meeting or conversation with him/her.
  • The staff responsible for handling complaints should stay alert and take suitable action to protect their own safety. They are empowered to make decision, depending on the situation, on whether to terminate the interview or dialogue with the complainant and ask the complainant to leave, if his/her behaviour poses an immediate threat to the staff’s personal safety or damages their personal interests. In an emergency or if it is deemed necessary, the school should take appropriate and decisive action, such as reporting to the police or taking legal action.


(ii) Unreasonable demands

  • If a complainant makes unreasonable demands which have an adverse impact on the school, e.g. interrupting its operation/services or other stakeholders are affected by the unreasonable behaviour of the complainant, the school may consider putting restrictions on the complainant’s contacts with the school, including specifying the time, frequency, date, duration and modes of communication (for example, requiring the complainant to make an appointment before visiting the school, submit his/her views in writing, or contact only with the staff designated by the school). The school must notify the complainant in writing of such arrangements and handling procedures.
  • If the complainant’s behaviour improves, the school may consider whether the restrictions should be lifted. If the school decides to keep the restrictions, it should regularly review the conditions for imposing them.

(iii) Unreasonable persistent complaints

  • Faced with these complaints, the school may decide whether to restrict or stop contacts with the complainant, and cease handling the case altogether.
  • To avoid any unrealistic expectations on the part of the complainant, the school should communicate to him/her in a firm manner that a final decision has been made regarding the case and that the decision is irreversible.
  • In response to these complaints, the school may send a “Case Closure Letter” to the complainant, referring him/her to the replies previously given, and reiterate that the school will neither respond to the same complaint nor contact him/her again. Please see Appendix IV for a sample “Case Closure Letter”.

4.4 Designated staff to deal with complaints involving unreasonable behaviour
When a complainant stages unreasonable behaviour as described above, the staff member responsible for handling the case should report it to a staff member of higher rank.

Generally speaking, the Principal is responsible for making decisions on how to deal with a complaint involving complainants’ unreasonable behaviour. However, if the complaint is lodged against the Principal, such decisions should be made by the school supervisor or the IMC.

Part 5 Handling Incidents referred or reported by the Media
5.1 The general practice of the media
When stakeholders feel aggrieved, they may seek to make complaints to the media. When the media receive such a complaint, they will normally contact the school authority, give an account of the complaint to the school and listen to the school’s feedback. Then they will counter-check the school’s response with some authority, like the EDB, experts, parents, etc. They may even come to the school’s vicinity to interview students for their opinions. When they consider they have got the enough information, they will report the case to the public openly.

5.2 Preliminary measures

  1. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) is the appointed spokesman to handle inquiries from the media. All staff members are advised not to speak to the media so as to avoid giving confusing messages.
  2. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) should take time to teach students how to face the media and make response to them at the beginning of each school year.

5.3 Answering an inquiry from the media

  1. On receiving an inquiry from the media, the school office should take down the gist of the inquiry and information about the media, and then inform the Principal and the Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) about the inquiry.
  2. The Principal keep the Supervisor and IMC informed and updated.
  3. Impromptu meetings may be called to gather information, make clarification, interview the alleged staff member, discuss for the appropriate response, etc., before answering the inquiry.
  4. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) is responsible for talking to the media.
  5. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) reports the interview to the Principal. Further meetings may be called if/when follow-up is necessary.

 

5.4 Actions to be taken when the media issues unfavourable reports

  1. Provide appropriate responses or clarification to the public as soon as possible (within one or two days), including information about actions taken or preliminary investigation results, and ensure that the information provided is clear, accurate and in line with requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
  2. Inform all teaching staff, students and parents of the progress of the case as far as possible; observe whether students and staff have been emotionally affected by the incident; and provide them with appropriate counselling where necessary.
  3. Stage further investigation procedures to handle the complaint as described in Part 3 when necessary.

Part 6 Handling Anonymous Complaints

6.1 Seeking identity of complainants
Whether the complaint is made in written form or in person, the complainant should provide his/her name, correspondence/e-mail address and/or contact phone number. If in doubt, the school may request the complainant to show his/her identity documents. Should the complainant fail or refuse to provide these personal details, thus rendering it impossible for the school to investigate the complaint and reply in writing, the complaint will be deemed anonymous and the school may not handle it.

However, under special circumstances (e.g. when there is sufficient evidence or when the case is serious or urgent), the middle or senior management of the school may decide whether to follow up with an anonymous complaint, such as treating it as an internal reference, informing the respondent about the complaint, or taking appropriate remedial and improvement measures. If follow-up actions are considered unnecessary, the school should briefly state the reasons and put on file for record.

6.2 Strategies for managing anonymous complaints

  1. The school will follow the policy and procedures recommended by the Guideline in handling anonymous complaints.
  2. On receiving a written anonymous complaint, if the school can trace the address or email address of the sender, the school will request the complainant to show his/her identity documents, and tell the complainant that if the complainant fails or refuses to provide these personal details, it may render it impossible for the school to investigate the complaint. Information in the complaint will be treated as internal reference and no investigation will be made. (Please refer to Appendix II)
  3. The school will always treat an anonymous complaint with some scepticism. Under special circumstances, when the complaint seems real or the situation it presents is serious, then the complaint should be investigated.
  4. All anonymous complaints should be filed for later reference.


Part 7 Enhancing Communication

7.1 Enhancing communication

It is vital for the school to maintain good communication with their stakeholders. In addition to providing effective communication channels, the school should also encourage parents, students and staff to make good use of them to express their views and feelings, so as to build up mutual trust and confidence and avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.

7.2 Strategies 

Target of the Complaint Person in Charge
1. To ensure that there is enough provision of education, training, notice and support of various forms for parents, staff, voluntary helpers, contract workers, service providers, agents, etc. to enhance their awareness of good communication with the school Principal
2. To include the Complaint Handling Policy and relative procedures in the Teachers’ Handbook Principal
3. To include the Complaint Handling Policy statement in the Student Diary Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
4. To bring the school’s policy and relative procedures to the awareness of new staff members, contract workers, service providers and agents Principal
5. To pass the information to the Principal and Vice Principals immediately when a complaint message is received on the telephone. School Office Staff
6. To forward the information to the Principal immediately when a complaint email is addressed to the school. School Office Staff

 


Part 8 Working for Continuous Improvement

8.1 Appropriate follow-up at the end of the investigation/appeal stage
At the end of the investigation/appeal stage, a review should be conducted to evaluate whether the complaint handling policies and procedures are appropriate, and suggest proper measures to improve the method of handling and to prevent similar incidents from recurring. The staff in charge should inform the person(s) concerned of the school’s follow-up actions and outcome of the review.

8.2 Annual comprehensive review
An annual comprehensive review on the strategies, process and steps the school has taken in handling complaints should be conducted in order to benefit from past experiences, improve the way of handling, avoid similar cases from recurring, and take appropriate follow-up measures to improve services or revise relevant policies for enhancement of professional standards of services.

8.3 Reporting to the IMC
The school should regularly review its own complaint handling policies and report to the IMC by providing relevant data concerning complaint/appeal cases, and suggest, if necessary, improvement measures to enhance their school-based complaint handling mechanism and procedures.

8.4 Support and training
Appropriate training should be provided to assist staff to effectively handle inquiries/complaints, e.g. providing training programmes on communication, negotiation and mediation skills, arranging experience sharing sessions for frontline/designated staff to enhance their capability in handling complaints and resolving conflicts, committing to training schemes provided by various bodies, etc.

Policy and Procedure on Handling School Complaints

Part 1 Summary: Guideline for Handling School Complaints

The Education Bureau issued the Guidelines for Handling School Complaints (Revised Version) in September 2014 and required all schools in the public sector to formulate a school-based mechanism and procedures according to their own situation and needs. 

1.1 Purposes of the guideline

 

The principles, procedures and arrangements proposed in the Guideline are designed to help schools handle complaints more speedily and effectively in response to reasonable demands from complainants.

 

 

1.2 Scope of Application of the guideline

 

Schools are responsible for handling complaints about the daily operations and internal affairs of schools. The EDB is responsible for handling complaints about the Education Ordinance and education policies and services provided by the EDB.

The Guideline is not applicable to the handling of the following types of complaints: 

  • Complaints related to ongoing legal proceedings; 
  • Complaints under the jurisdiction of other organisations/government departments; 
  • Complaints governed by other ordinances or statutory regulations such as complaints against corruption, fraud or theft; 
  • Complaints lodged by school staff (if a school receives any such complaints, it should handle them in accordance with the specifications of the school-based or the sponsoring body’s mechanism and guidelines for staff complaints [if applicable]; if the EDB receives such complaints, it will handle them in accordance with the current procedures and reply to the complainant direct.) 

In general, schools need not handle the following types of complaints: 

  • Anonymous complaints unless when there is sufficient evidence or when the case is serious or urgent; 
  • Complaints not made by the person concerned -- anyone who seeks to file a complaint on behalf of the person concerned has to obtain his/her prior written consent; 
  • Complaints involving incidents that happened more than one year ago; 
  • Complaints with insufficient information 

1.3 Guiding Principles for Handling Complaints

Principle I: Handling of complaints by the appropriate party/parties

Schools should handle those complaints relating to their daily operations and internal affairs, and the EDB should handle those complaints concerning the Education Ordinance and education policies and services. Complaints involving other laws of Hong Kong should be lodged to and handled by the relevant law enforcement agencies (e.g. the ICAC, Hong Kong Police Force, Equal Opportunities Commission, etc.). If a complaint involves both school(s) and the EDB, it should be handled by the particular school(s) and related division(s)/section(s) of the EDB.


Principle II: Timely and efficient handling

Schools should handle and respond to all verbal or written inquiries, opinions or complaints as soon as possible to prevent any uninviting situation from worsening. Upon receipt of an inquiry/a complaint, the frontline staff should either directly handle it or immediately refer it to the designated staff/task force for action. If the responsible staff cannot resolve the problem, they should seek help from their seniors.

 

Principle III: Clear and transparent mechanism

Schools should, in collaboration with their sponsoring bodies, set up a clear and effective school-based mechanism as well as procedures for speedy and proper handling of inquiries and complaints. They should consult teachers and parents to ensure that the relevant procedures are accepted by all stakeholders.

Schools should prepare guidelines for stakeholders on the relevant policies, procedures and responsible staff for handling complaints. They may make parents and staff fully aware of the details of the procedures through different channels, e.g. school websites, circulars, student handbooks, staff meetings, parent-teacher meetings, seminars and school events.

To facilitate smooth implementation of the school-based mechanism, schools should ensure that all staff responsible for handling inquiries and complaints understand and comply with the relevant policies and guideline. To enhance mutual understanding and strengthen home-school co-operation, schools should draw up strategies for regular communication with parents through different channels, e.g. briefings/information folders for new students and their parents, circulars issued at the beginning of each school year, etc. to inform them of the policies and procedures of complaint handling.

Schools should regularly review their complaint handling policies and guidelines by consulting its staff and parents, and revise the handling procedures whenever necessary.

 
Principle IV: Fair and impartial handling

Schools should approach complaints positively and treat the complainants and respondents of the complaints fairly. Schools should ensure that sufficient appeal channels are provided and consider inviting independent persons to participate in the complaint/appeal handling process, if necessary.

Before an investigation begins or where appropriate, the designated staff and related individuals should declare interests. If there is any conflict of interest, the persons concerned should not be involved in handling the case or have access to information relating to it.

To avoid conflict of interest, any staff member who is the respondent of the complaint should not be involved in handling the case, supervising the investigation, or signing and issuing letters to the complainant.

Schools should see to it that the rights of the complainants or other persons involved in the complaint are being protected and that their future communication and contact with the school would not be affected.

 

Part 2 School Policy Statement 

2.1 La Salle College endorses the EDB Guideline for handling complaints and sets out in this document the policy and procedures in accord with the guideline to handle school complaints. 

2.2 La Salle College strives to handle complaints positively, with patience and understanding, and provide prompt responses within an appropriate time frame. It believes that complaints are valuable pieces of information for reflection and review of existing policies and practices. It also believes that an effective school-based complaint handling mechanism not only increases public confidence in school governance, but also prevents public opinions/inquiries from evolving into formal complaints or unnecessarily escalating to the EDB or other government departments/organisations.

2.3 To ensure that public inquiries/complaints are handled in a proper manner, in formulating its school-based complaint handling mechanism and procedures, La Salle College takes account of the following requirements:

  • Clear and unambiguous
  • Open and transparent
  • Concise and easy to follow
  • Fair and just
  • Free from undue influence or interference
  • Open to all parties for their right to appeal
  • Able to protect privacy of all parties and confidentiality of information
  • Under continuous review and improvement
     

2.4 La Salle College maintains a close partnership with parents and staff by enhancing communication with them. It encourages all its members of staff to deal with concerns and complaints lying within their area of responsibility and try to clear up misunderstandings at an early stage. It always assumes an open attitude and listens to the views of its sponsoring body and stakeholders to identify room for improvement regarding its school-based inquiry/complaint handling mechanism and procedures.

2.5 La Salle College provides proper education and training to its staff and stakeholders for handling school complaints. It also reviews its existing policies, procedures and measures regularly for the continuous improvement of their administration.


Part 3 Handling School Complaints
 

3.1 Differentiating between concerns and complaints

The school may receive inquiries, opinions or complaints from stakeholders or the public. All staff members should be able to distinguish concerns from complaints and decide the appropriate procedures to handle them:

A concern refers to the inquiry or opinion expressed by the stakeholders for the interests of themselves, their children or the school, with a view to changing or improving the existing situation.

A complaint is an expression of disappointment, dissatisfaction or grievance expressed by the complainant. They may demand the school to rectify its mistakes, take disciplinary action against the suspected offenders, or resolve the issue(s) raised in the complaint. Complaints can be further classified into informal complaints and formal complaints.

3.2 Informal Complaint Handling Procedures

In general, if the case does not require an investigation involving evidence collection, or the person concerned does not request a formal written reply, the frontline staff may handle the matter following the informal complaint handling procedures of the school.

On receiving an inquiry, opinion or informal complaint, the frontline staff should listen to the concerns of the inquirer/complainant with care and understanding. If the incident is not serious, they should provide whatever assistance or information required or promptly respond to the concerns raised by the inquirer/complainant and help resolve the problems involved.

If necessary, the school staff in charge of the relevant issue should be informed and they should have direct talks or interviews with the person(s) concerned to explain the schools’ stance and remove any misunderstanding, misgivings or worries of them. The time limit for an initial response is set to be within two working days.

Oral replies will suffice and written replies are normally not required. For opinions/complaints which are presented in written form, the responsible staff may decide whether a simple written reply to the person(s) concerned/complainant is appropriate. If an inquiry/complaint has been answered or resolved instantly, it is suggested that the designated staff or the principal may record the key points in a log book for future reference.

If necessary, the responsible staff may brief the person(s) concerned on the follow-up actions that the school has adopted and the results that follow.

If the complainant still does not accept the school’s response or the problem remains unresolved, the formal complaint investigation procedures (including an appeal mechanism) should be initiated.

3.3 Formal Complaint Investigation Procedures

3.3.1 Identifying the domain that the complaints fall into

Domain Example
Management and Organisation
  • School accounts (e.g. accounting records)
  • Other charges (e.g. extra-curricular activities charges and registration fees)
  • School policies (e.g. system of reward and penalty, arrangements regarding students’ suspension from school)
  • Standards of contractors’ services (e.g. school bus services, supply of meal boxes)
  • Service contracts (e.g. tendering procedures)
  • School environment and hygiene (e.g. noise pollution, mosquitoes problems)
Learning and Teaching
  • School-based curriculum (e.g. subject lesson time)
  • Selection of subjects and class allocation (e.g. arrangements for students’ choice of subjects)
  • Homework (e.g. amount of homework, school-based assessment criteria)
  • Students assessment (e.g. assessment criteria)
  • Staff performance (e.g. behaviour/attitudes of teaching staff, job performance)
School Ethos and Student Support
  • School ethos (e.g. uniform and other aspects of appearance)
  • Home-school cooperation (e.g. consultation mechanism, communication channels)
  • Student support (e.g. support for students with special educational needs)
  • Extra-curricular activities (e.g. arrangements for interest groups and other student activities)
Student Performance
  • Students’ overall performance (e.g. academic results, conduct)
  • Student discipline (e.g. foul and abusive language, smoking, fighting, bullying)

 

3.3.2 Designated staff for handling formal complaints including appeals
Taking into account the nature of the complaint, its scope and the people involved, the school may assign a designated staff or set up a task force to handle the complaint with reference to the following arrangements

  1. Staff members who are responsible for the appeal stage should be different from those responsible for the investigation stage. In principle, the staff dealing with the appeal should be of a higher rank than those responsible for the investigation. If this is not practicable, the school would make other arrangements, such as appointing staff from another department, to ensure fair handling.
  2. Where necessary, the school/sponsoring body may establish a task force to handle special complaint cases. Depending on the situation, the task force may include members of the IMC and representatives from the school sponsoring body. To enhance credibility, the school may invite independent persons such as social workers, lawyers, psychologists, and parents or teachers not involved in the case to join the task force to provide professional advice and support.
  3. The appointed staff should be proactive in communicating with the inquirers/complainants, and prompt in providing responses as well as the information they need. The school will also ensure that frontline/ designated staff have proper authorisation and clearly understand their roles and responsibilities.
  4. Concerning the deployment of staff for handling complaints at different stages, please refer to the examples in the table below:
Target of the Complaint Example Investigation Stage Appeal Stage
Subject Teachers 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
3 Principal Supervisor
Form Teachers 1 Vice Principal (Pastoral) Principal
2 Principal Supervisor
Student support team teachers 1 Functional Heads Vice Principal (Pastoral)
2 Discipline Master Vice Principal (Pastoral)
3 Deans Vice Principal (Pastoral)
4 Members of Pastoral teams e.g. Guidance, discipline, Careers Vice Principal (Pastoral)
5 Vice Principal (Pastoral) Principal
6 Principal Supervisor
Learning and Teaching in school 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Members of Academic teams e.g. Assessment, Placement, Learning Support, Timetable Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
3 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
4 Principal Supervisor
Extra-curricular activities 1 Club Advisors Vice Principal (Pastoral)
2 ECA Coordinator Vice Principal (Pastoral)
3 Principal Supervisor
Students’ academic performance 1 Panel Heads Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
2 Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning) Principal
3 Principal Supervisor
School administration 1 Office Staff School secretary
2 Janitor Staff School secretary
3 School secretary Principal
4 Principal Supervisor
Principal 1 Supervisor Designated staff of school sponsoring body#
Supervisor/IMC member 1 Designated staff of school sponsoring body# Designated staff of school sponsoring body#/Task Force*

# Designated staff could be the staff or the person in charge of the education office of the school sponsoring body.

* If a complaint involves the Supervisor or IMC member, the IMC investigation/appeal task force may include independent persons

3.3.3 Investigation stage
Any formal complaints (including those referred by the EDB or other organisations) should be handled according to the following procedures:

  1. The sponsoring body, the IMC, the supervisor, and/or the Principal will be responsible for assigning appropriate staff to investigate the complaint and reply to the complainant in accordance with the situation and after declaration of interest;
  2. Acknowledge receipt of the complaint, seek the complainant’s consent to obtain his/her personal data and information relating to the complaint, and inform him/her of the name, post title and phone number of the staff responsible for handling the case for contact purposes. Samples of Acknowledgement Letters are provided in Appendices I and II;
  3. If necessary, contact the complainant and other persons involved or arrange meetings with them in order to have a better grasp of the situation or request them to provide relevant information;
  4. Handle the complaint as quickly as possible (It is suggested that the investigation should be completed within two working weeks after receiving the complaint.), and send a written reply to inform the complainant of the investigation result;
  5. If the complainant accepts the investigation result, conclude the case officially; and 
  6. If the complainant does not accept the investigation result or the way the school handled the complaint, and is able to provide new evidence or sufficient justification, he/she may lodge an appeal in writing against the school’s decision within 14 working days from the date of its reply.

3.3.4 Appeal stage

Procedures for appeal cases are as follows:

  1. The sponsoring body, the supervisor, the IMC and/or the Principal will be responsible for assigning appropriate staff of a higher rank than those responsible for the investigation stage, or staff from a different section, to handle the appeal and reply to the complainant in accordance with the situation and after declaration of interest;
  2. Handle and resolve the appeal as quickly as possible (within two weeks after receiving the request for appeal), and send a written reply to inform the complainant of the appeal result;
  3. If the complainant accepts the appeal result, conclude the case officially;
  4. If the complainant does not accept the appeal result or the way the school handled the appeal, the school should cautiously review the appeal process to ensure that proper procedures have been followed.
  5. If the complainant raises other new allegations, the school will handle them separately in order to avoid mixing up the old complaints with the new ones.

3.3.5 Responding to complaints/appeals
If the complaint or appeal is in written form, the school will respond with a written reply. If the complaint is made verbally, the responsible staff may decide whether to respond orally or in writing. If the case is referred by the EDB/other organisation(s), a copy of the written reply should be forwarded to them for reference.

Generally speaking, the time limit for replying to a complaint/appeal should start from the date on which it is received or when the complainant agrees to let the school have access to his/her personal data. If the information submitted is incomplete, the time limit should start from the date on which the school receives from the complainant the necessary information. If a reply cannot be given within the specified period, the school will explain to the complainant in writing why a longer handling time is needed.

3.3.6 Complaint/appeal records
The school will keep a clear record of cases handled by the formal complaint investigation procedures. A sample complaint record is given in Appendix III. The school establishes a complaint record management system to store relevant information (including correspondences, investigation reports and interview records), and keep statistics of complaints and appeals lodged through either the informal or formal handling procedures for future reference.

3.3.7 Appropriate follow-up
At the end of the investigation/appeal stage, there should be a review concerning whether the complaint handling policies and procedures are appropriate, and suggest proper measures to improve the method of handling and to prevent similar incidents from recurring. The staff in charge should inform the person(s) concerned of the school’s follow-up actions and outcome of the review.

3.4 Confidentiality
All content and information of complaints should be kept strictly confidential and restricted to internal reference or reference by relevant persons only.

When personal data are to be collected or requests for disclosure of data/records are received during the handling process in respect of the complaint case, the regulations and recommendations laid down in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance should be observed. This includes clearly stating the purpose and the form of collection of personal data, and that the data will only be used for handling the complaint or appeal cases.

Appropriate security measures should be adopted to protect personal data and privacy, such as keeping the data in safe places (e.g. cabinets under lock and key). Computer data should be protected by passwords. Use of portable data storage devices should be tightly controlled. Where necessary, encrypted portable data storage devices should be used.

Only authorised persons are allowed access to information relating to the case. The responsible persons should not disclose or discuss in public any contents or information relating to the case without authorisation.

To avoid misunderstanding, the following measures should be applied:

  1. State clearly whether the person(s) concerned can be accompanied by others (e.g. relatives, legal representatives) during the interview/meeting and reiterate this stance before the interview/meeting starts; and
  2. Indicate before the interview/meeting starts whether audio/video recording is prohibited or whether the consent of all attendees must be obtained if the session is to be audio/video recorded. This stance should be reiterated before the end of the interview/meeting.

Part 4 Handling Unreasonable Behaviour

4.1 Concerns for complainants’ unreasonable behaviour
Appropriate communication and mediation are conducive to removing misunderstanding and enhancing mutual trust. Under general circumstances, there should not be any restrictions to stop complainants from making contact with the school. However, sometimes certain unreasonable behaviour of complainants may have a negative impact on the school, e.g. draining a considerable amount of the school’s human resources, interrupting the school’s operations or services, as well as threatening the safety of staff and other stakeholders. Therefore, appropriate policies and measures have to be developed to handle this kind of unreasonable behaviour.

4.2 Definition of unreasonable behaviour
Complainants’ unreasonable behaviour can generally be classified into the following three types:
(i) Unreasonable attitude or behaviour, such as:

  • Acts of violence or intimidation
  • Making complaints with abusive language or in an insulting and discriminatory tone
  • Providing false data or deliberately concealing facts

(ii) Unreasonable demands, such as:

  • Requesting a huge amount of information or demanding special treatment
  • Making telephone calls incessantly to ask for a dialogue or an interview, or to command a certain staff member to reply
  • Commanding a certain staff member to meet at a specific time and place

(iii) Unreasonable persistent complaints, such as:

  • Insisting on rejecting the explanations and findings of the school/EDB, and/or requiring the school/EDB to discipline certain person(s), even after appropriate investigation procedures have been taken
  • In respect of the same case, repeatedly making the same complaints or presenting similar justifications as before without providing any new evidence
  • In respect of the same case, persistently bringing in new allegations or new complaint targets, but failing to present concrete evidence
  • Interpreting things in an unreasonable or irrational manner, or wrangling over trivial details

4.3 Strategies for handling unreasonable behaviours

(i) Unreasonable attitude or behaviour

  • Any unreasonable attitude or behaviour, including acts of violence, intimidation, and abusive/offensive conduct or language, whether performed face-to-face, by phone, or in writing are unacceptable. The staff member handling the complaint should convey this message clearly to the complainant and demand that he/she stop acting in such a way. If the complainant refuses to comply after the warning, the staff member may terminate the meeting or conversation with him/her.
  • The staff responsible for handling complaints should stay alert and take suitable action to protect their own safety. They are empowered to make decision, depending on the situation, on whether to terminate the interview or dialogue with the complainant and ask the complainant to leave, if his/her behaviour poses an immediate threat to the staff’s personal safety or damages their personal interests. In an emergency or if it is deemed necessary, the school should take appropriate and decisive action, such as reporting to the police or taking legal action.


(ii) Unreasonable demands

  • If a complainant makes unreasonable demands which have an adverse impact on the school, e.g. interrupting its operation/services or other stakeholders are affected by the unreasonable behaviour of the complainant, the school may consider putting restrictions on the complainant’s contacts with the school, including specifying the time, frequency, date, duration and modes of communication (for example, requiring the complainant to make an appointment before visiting the school, submit his/her views in writing, or contact only with the staff designated by the school). The school must notify the complainant in writing of such arrangements and handling procedures.
  • If the complainant’s behaviour improves, the school may consider whether the restrictions should be lifted. If the school decides to keep the restrictions, it should regularly review the conditions for imposing them.

(iii) Unreasonable persistent complaints

  • Faced with these complaints, the school may decide whether to restrict or stop contacts with the complainant, and cease handling the case altogether.
  • To avoid any unrealistic expectations on the part of the complainant, the school should communicate to him/her in a firm manner that a final decision has been made regarding the case and that the decision is irreversible.
  • In response to these complaints, the school may send a “Case Closure Letter” to the complainant, referring him/her to the replies previously given, and reiterate that the school will neither respond to the same complaint nor contact him/her again. Please see Appendix IV for a sample “Case Closure Letter”.

4.4 Designated staff to deal with complaints involving unreasonable behaviour
When a complainant stages unreasonable behaviour as described above, the staff member responsible for handling the case should report it to a staff member of higher rank.

Generally speaking, the Principal is responsible for making decisions on how to deal with a complaint involving complainants’ unreasonable behaviour. However, if the complaint is lodged against the Principal, such decisions should be made by the school supervisor or the IMC.

Part 5 Handling Incidents referred or reported by the Media
5.1 The general practice of the media
When stakeholders feel aggrieved, they may seek to make complaints to the media. When the media receive such a complaint, they will normally contact the school authority, give an account of the complaint to the school and listen to the school’s feedback. Then they will counter-check the school’s response with some authority, like the EDB, experts, parents, etc. They may even come to the school’s vicinity to interview students for their opinions. When they consider they have got the enough information, they will report the case to the public openly.

5.2 Preliminary measures

  1. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) is the appointed spokesman to handle inquiries from the media. All staff members are advised not to speak to the media so as to avoid giving confusing messages.
  2. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) should take time to teach students how to face the media and make response to them at the beginning of each school year.

5.3 Answering an inquiry from the media

  1. On receiving an inquiry from the media, the school office should take down the gist of the inquiry and information about the media, and then inform the Principal and the Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) about the inquiry.
  2. The Principal keep the Supervisor and IMC informed and updated.
  3. Impromptu meetings may be called to gather information, make clarification, interview the alleged staff member, discuss for the appropriate response, etc., before answering the inquiry.
  4. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) is responsible for talking to the media.
  5. Vice Principal (Pastoral Care) reports the interview to the Principal. Further meetings may be called if/when follow-up is necessary.

 

5.4 Actions to be taken when the media issues unfavourable reports

  1. Provide appropriate responses or clarification to the public as soon as possible (within one or two days), including information about actions taken or preliminary investigation results, and ensure that the information provided is clear, accurate and in line with requirements under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
  2. Inform all teaching staff, students and parents of the progress of the case as far as possible; observe whether students and staff have been emotionally affected by the incident; and provide them with appropriate counselling where necessary.
  3. Stage further investigation procedures to handle the complaint as described in Part 3 when necessary.

Part 6 Handling Anonymous Complaints

6.1 Seeking identity of complainants
Whether the complaint is made in written form or in person, the complainant should provide his/her name, correspondence/e-mail address and/or contact phone number. If in doubt, the school may request the complainant to show his/her identity documents. Should the complainant fail or refuse to provide these personal details, thus rendering it impossible for the school to investigate the complaint and reply in writing, the complaint will be deemed anonymous and the school may not handle it.

However, under special circumstances (e.g. when there is sufficient evidence or when the case is serious or urgent), the middle or senior management of the school may decide whether to follow up with an anonymous complaint, such as treating it as an internal reference, informing the respondent about the complaint, or taking appropriate remedial and improvement measures. If follow-up actions are considered unnecessary, the school should briefly state the reasons and put on file for record.

6.2 Strategies for managing anonymous complaints

  1. The school will follow the policy and procedures recommended by the Guideline in handling anonymous complaints.
  2. On receiving a written anonymous complaint, if the school can trace the address or email address of the sender, the school will request the complainant to show his/her identity documents, and tell the complainant that if the complainant fails or refuses to provide these personal details, it may render it impossible for the school to investigate the complaint. Information in the complaint will be treated as internal reference and no investigation will be made. (Please refer to Appendix II)
  3. The school will always treat an anonymous complaint with some scepticism. Under special circumstances, when the complaint seems real or the situation it presents is serious, then the complaint should be investigated.
  4. All anonymous complaints should be filed for later reference.


Part 7 Enhancing Communication

7.1 Enhancing communication

It is vital for the school to maintain good communication with their stakeholders. In addition to providing effective communication channels, the school should also encourage parents, students and staff to make good use of them to express their views and feelings, so as to build up mutual trust and confidence and avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding.

7.2 Strategies 

Target of the Complaint Person in Charge
1. To ensure that there is enough provision of education, training, notice and support of various forms for parents, staff, voluntary helpers, contract workers, service providers, agents, etc. to enhance their awareness of good communication with the school Principal
2. To include the Complaint Handling Policy and relative procedures in the Teachers’ Handbook Principal
3. To include the Complaint Handling Policy statement in the Student Diary Vice Principal (Curriculum & Learning)
4. To bring the school’s policy and relative procedures to the awareness of new staff members, contract workers, service providers and agents Principal
5. To pass the information to the Principal and Vice Principals immediately when a complaint message is received on the telephone. School Office Staff
6. To forward the information to the Principal immediately when a complaint email is addressed to the school. School Office Staff

 


Part 8 Working for Continuous Improvement

8.1 Appropriate follow-up at the end of the investigation/appeal stage
At the end of the investigation/appeal stage, a review should be conducted to evaluate whether the complaint handling policies and procedures are appropriate, and suggest proper measures to improve the method of handling and to prevent similar incidents from recurring. The staff in charge should inform the person(s) concerned of the school’s follow-up actions and outcome of the review.

8.2 Annual comprehensive review
An annual comprehensive review on the strategies, process and steps the school has taken in handling complaints should be conducted in order to benefit from past experiences, improve the way of handling, avoid similar cases from recurring, and take appropriate follow-up measures to improve services or revise relevant policies for enhancement of professional standards of services.

8.3 Reporting to the IMC
The school should regularly review its own complaint handling policies and report to the IMC by providing relevant data concerning complaint/appeal cases, and suggest, if necessary, improvement measures to enhance their school-based complaint handling mechanism and procedures.

8.4 Support and training
Appropriate training should be provided to assist staff to effectively handle inquiries/complaints, e.g. providing training programmes on communication, negotiation and mediation skills, arranging experience sharing sessions for frontline/designated staff to enhance their capability in handling complaints and resolving conflicts, committing to training schemes provided by various bodies, etc.

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