The CPD Group [CPDG] is committed to providing education and services of the highest quality. It aims to provide a supportive environment for its learners and to be quick to respond to concerns or complaints from any source.
The CPDG recognises that, in a complex organisation, problems may arise of a teaching-related or service-related nature. These problems need to be addressed in order to ensure that high standards are maintained. We consider feedback, both negative and positive, as valuable in helping us to improve the quality of our services and provision.
The Complaints procedure is designed to enable anyone interacting with the CPDG to raise matters of unease about their experiences, of our services and provision, to our attention, and to enable an investigation of those concerns to achieve an acceptable resolution. This process provides us with feedback, which helps us improve our services, as well as helping us to resolve any problems experienced by an individual complainant.
The complaints procedure aims to be simple, clear and fair to all parties involved. It is based on the conviction that complaints should be taken seriously, should be investigated without delay and dealt with as closely as possible to its origin. For this reason, all complainants are asked to try to resolve any issue as informally as possible in the first instance within the relevant department. The intention is that most issues can be effectively handled in a spirit of conciliation. Therefore, the formal complaints procedure should be seen as a last resort in the search for a solution.
The CPDG sees the use of its Complaints procedures as a positive, non-threatening means for change to the benefit of all.
To demonstrate the CPDG’S commitment to taking effective action when warranted as a result of complaints, where appropriate, the outcomes of complaints will be publicly communicated by such means as the internet web site.
What is a complaint?
The Complaints Procedure covers any expression of dissatisfaction about:
• Standards of service
• Courses or facilities provided by the CPDG
• Actions or lack of actions by the CPDG or its staff
• Provisions of the CPDG affecting students, clients, partners or stakeholders
The Complaints Procedure does not cover the following:
• Matters of academic judgement (i.e. matters related to academic performance)
• Requests for new or different services or provision
• Matters covered by separate polices or procedures, including:
• Academic Appeals
• Disciplinary-related issues
• Equal Opportunities
Who can make use of the complaints procedure?
This procedure is for use by any student or prospective student, who seeks or receives a service from the CPDG or any person who is directly affected by the activities of the CPDG.
Guidelines for making and managing complaints
All complaints will be taken seriously and, as far as is reasonable, be treated in a consistent fashion throughout the CPDG. In line with our equal opportunities policy, all complainants will be treated equally and students who make complaints will not suffer any disadvantage or recrimination as a result of making a complaint. Only where complaints are proven to be malicious or vexatious might there be recourse to disciplinary investigation and possible sanction against the complainant. Complaints that are made more than three months after the incident or action that is the subject of the complaint may not be investigated.
All complaints will be handled with sensitivity and due consideration to confidentiality for all concerned. However any person named in a complaint, will be informed of the complaint and will have a right of reply as part of the investigative process.
Anonymous complaints are very rare. While they will be registered and monitored, under normal circumstances they will not be investigated.
Third party complaints
Complaints should normally be made by complainants themselves however, young learners (under the age of 16), vulnerable adults or any other students who would have difficulty making a complaint on their own behalf, are fully entitled and encouraged to use whatever assistance is required from a third party.
Accompaniment at a complaint hearing
In the event that a hearing is arranged to consider a complaint, any learner, customer or member of staff asked to attend such a hearing has the right to be accompanied by a person of his/her choosing.
Help, support and representation
Advice and guidance on procedures and representation are available from a number of sources. It is, however, the complainant’s responsibility to seek advice and support when necessary.
Complaints to the Principal, Board members or senior members of staff
Any complaint received directly by the Principal, or other senior member of staff will be acknowledged by the recipient. A copy of the complaint and acknowledgement will be passed to quality and curriculum for recording. A copy of all further correspondence between the recipient of the complaint and the complainant will also be forwarded to quality and curriculum for recording until the matter is satisfactorily resolved or moves to the Appeal stage of the procedure.
How, where, when and who to complain to?
The procedure aims to be simple, clear and fair to all parties involved and seeks to allow issues to be explored within a supportive, conciliatory perspective. The CPDG encourages informal resolution at every stage of this process. Use of the formal complaints procedure should only be pursued as a last resort.
Stage 1 – The informal stage
It is the CPDG’s belief that it is in everyone’s interest to resolve complaints as quickly as possible, as close to the cause of the problem as possible, and by informal means in preference to formal ones. Dealing with small problems or areas of concern as they arise will often prevent them becoming larger problems that are harder to resolve.
Complainants are encouraged to raise any issue at an early stage, and to discuss the concern, giving rise to the complaint with the appropriate person responsible. Many apparent concerns result from misunderstandings that can often be resolved quickly and easily by talking through the matter.
This can be done by:
• a telephone conversation with the appropriate person .
• a face to face meeting with the appropriate person.
• an email or letter to the appropriate person.
Informal complaints should normally be responded to within 7 days of receipt of the complaint. Records of such complaints will not normally be retained or recorded centrally, unless the complainant or member of staff dealing with it wishes to do so.
If the problem has not been satisfactorily resolved at this stage, complainants are encouraged to raise the matter with the relevant teaching or support department. This person or department will make enquiries with those concerned and report back to the complainant on the outcome, normally within 7 days
Stage 2 – The formal stage
Every effort should be made by complainants and staffs to use the informal mechanisms available to resolve issues of dissatisfaction. However, the CPDG recognises that there may be problems that either have not been resolved, or are too serious to be dealt with informally. The CPDG is also aware that there may be occasions in which, for whatever reason, a complainant feels that it is impossible to raise an issue directly with the member of staff concerned. In any of these circumstances, the CPDG’s formal complaints procedure should be used.
A formal complaint should be submitted to the CPDG and preferably on the Complaints Form, available from head office, or by downloading from the website. The statement of complaint should be as complete as possible and should include any supporting documentation (copies of previous correspondence, for example). The Complaints Panel will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within 5 working days.
The complaint will be referred on to an appropriate person, who will carry out an investigation and report their findings back to the Complaints Panel. The Complaints Panel will reply to the complainant in writing within 20 working days of its receipt.
At this stage, the majority of complaints should have been resolved satisfactorily and without the need for further action. However, if the complainant is not satisfied with the response received as a result of Stage 2, the complaint may be taken to Stage 3 of the complaints procedure.
Stage 3 – The appeal stage
If a complaint has still not been satisfactorily resolved after Stage 2 of the procedure, a copy of the complaint, together with any documentary evidence relating to the complaint will be sent to the College Principal within 14 days of receiving the Stage 2 response. The CPDG management will decide whether to convene an appeals panel to hear the complaint and review the evidence.
Membership and Conduct Of The Complaints Panel
The Complaints Panel will normally comprise three people
1. The principal (Quality and Curriculum) [the Chair].
2. The Director of learner services.
3. A senior tutor.
Panel members will not have had any previous involvement in dealing with the complaint at either Stage 1 or Stage 2.
Details of panel membership will be given to both parties to the complaint in advance of the panel hearing. Any request to veto a member of the panel for good reason must be made in advance to the Principal (Curriculum and Quality) in writing, stating clearly the reason for the request
The panel will investigate the complaint, including all documentary evidence relating to the complaint. The panel may seek to resolve the complaint on the basis of the documentation provided alone. However, if necessary, the panel will invite both parties to the complaint to a panel meeting to present evidence and to be questioned on the evidence provided.
After investigation of the complaint, the Chair will produce a written response to all parties involved in the complaint, outlining whether the complaint is upheld or not and detailing what actions, if any, are necessary to resolve the issue.
The decision of the Complaints Panel is final.
This exhausts the CPDG’s own internal complaints procedures.
Stage 4 The Local Government ombudsmen
If, however, where the CPDG’s own internal complaints procedures have been exhausted and where the complainant remains dissatisfied after Stage 3, the complainant has recourse to taking the complaint further to the Local Government Ombudsman.
The Local Government Ombudsmen investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. They investigate complaints about most council matters including housing, planning, education and social services. It is an independent, impartial and free service. The Ombudsmen can investigate complaints, but they cannot question what a council has done simply because someone does not agree with it.
The LGO Advice Team can be contacted on 0845 602 1983 for advice or to make a complaint by telephone, or on line at www.lgo.org.uk
A complainant must give the CPDG an opportunity to deal with a complaint against it first. It is best to use the CPDG’s own complaints procedure, if it has one. If the complainant is not satisfied with the action the college takes, he or she can send a written complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, or ask a councillor to do so on their behalf. The objective of the Ombudsmen is to secure, where appropriate, satisfactory redress for complainants and better administration for the authorities. Since 1989, the Ombudsmen have had power to issue advice on good administrative practice in local government based on experience derived from their investigations. To this end, they have to date published six guidance on good practice notes on setting up complaints systems, good administrative practice, council housing repairs, members’ interests, disposal of land and remedies.
Learning From Complaints
In order that the CPDG can learn and improve as a result of complaints, the CPDG will keep accurate and complete records of all complaints received and the resulting correspondence, interviews and actions. A report on complaints received and their outcomes will be submitted to the Directors at least once per academic year. Subsequently, complaints relating to issues with a direct impact on the student experience will be passed to the Academic Board for consideration. This will help to improve customer service throughout the CPDG and monitor the effectiveness of the complaints procedure.