10: Can I make a complaint to the Education Authority?

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Making a complaint to the Education Authority

There are a number of ways you can make a comment or complaint to the Education Authority (EA)

It is recommended that you read the EA Complaints Handling Procedure Leaflet before you contact them.

A complaint can be made to the EA about

  • failure to provide a service;
  • inadequate standard of service;
  • treatment by or attitude of a member of staff;
  • disagreement with a decision where no other remedial procedure exists (for example, a right to appeal)
  • and/or EA’s failure to follow the appropriate administrative process or policy.

This list is not exhaustive

The EA’s complaints procedure will not be applied:

  • if your issue is currently in court or has already been heard by a court or a statutory tribunal;
  • to disputes with schools which fall under an individual school’s complaints procedures.
  • if the issue can be dealt with by an independent tribunal for example, in relation to:
    • school admissions – refer to School Admissions Appeal Tribunal
    • expulsions – refer to Expulsion Appeal Tribunal or
    • delivery of the curriculum – refer to Complaints Tribunal
    • or certain decisions in relation to special educational needs – refer to SENDIST

How to make a complaint

When making a complaint you should provide as much information as possible and include the following:

  • your name and contact details;
  • what your complaint is about;
  • what you have already done to try to resolve it;
  • which EA services you have contacted;
  • what you would like EA to do.

There are 2 Stages in the EA Complaints Handling Procedure.

Stage 1 – Frontline response

Contact your Local EA office for advice on who to contact on the team from the service about which you have the complaint. A team member should get back to you within 5 working days

If your issue is unresolved at Stage 1 contact the Complaints Office at feedback@eani.org.uk or on 028 8241 1472 to ask for the complaint to be considered at Stage 2. This must be done

  • Within six months of the event you want to complain about or finding out that you have a reason to complain; or
  • Within two months of receiving your stage 1 response (if this is later).

Stage 2 – Investigation

If your issue is unresolved at Stage 1 contact the Complaints Office at feedback@eani.org.uk or on 028 8241 1472.

Your complaint will go to the Senior Management Team (you should receive an acknowledgement within five working days). They will confirm the points of complaint to be investigated and what you want to achieve. The complaint will be investigated and a full response will be provided no later than 25 working days from start of stage 2.

NOTE: Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the EA will only consider a complaint within six months of you becoming aware of the issue

Taking your complaint further

If you are not happy with the final response after Stage 2, you can contact the Office of the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.

In most instances, the Ombudsman will only investigate a complaint after all the organisation’s internal processes have been exhausted.

NOTE: The Ombudsman’s time limit for review of complaints is six months from the date of EA’s final response.

  • Schools have their own separate complaints procedure therefore the EA is unable to investigate complaints about a school.  School complaints should be raised directly with the school.
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