Handling persistent or aggressive complaints

Serial and/or unreasonable complaints can be time-consuming and stressful for headteachers and governors. Learn how to manage them effectively, and where to get help with particularly tricky situations.

Last reviewed on 25 January 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 4687
  1. Identify a serial or persistent complaint
  2. Your senior leaders might take informal steps first
  3. Follow your complaints procedure
  4. How to close complaints and stop responding
  5. Duplicate complaints from different people
  6. Dealing with aggressive parents and carers
  7. Seek support if you need it

This article is based on the DfE's complaints guidance for maintained schools and academies.

Identify a serial or persistent complaint

Most complaints raised will be valid and should be treated seriously. However, a complaint may be considered unreasonable if:

  • The person has made the same complaint before, and it’s been resolved by following the school’s complaints policy 
  • A complaint is obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific or repetitive
  • The person insists on pursuing an unfounded complaint, beyond all reason
  • The person pursues unrealistic outcomes, beyond all reason
  • The person pursues a valid complaint, but in an unreasonable manner
  • A complaint is designed to cause disruption and/or annoyance
  • The person demands a solution that lacks any serious purpose or value

You should only categorise the complaint itself as being persistent or unreasonable, not the person making it. They may make valid complaints in the future, which you’ll need to treat fairly.

Your headteacher should try to resolve

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