Handling persistent or aggressive complaints

Serial and unfounded complaints can be time-consuming and stressful for both headteachers and governors. Learn how to manage this effectively and find out where you can get help with particularly tricky situations.

Last reviewed on 13 October 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 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
  7. Seek support if you need it

This article is based on the Department for Education'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 become unreasonable if the:

  • Person has made the same complaint before, and it’s already been resolved by following the school’s complaints policy 
  • Complaint is obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific, or repetitive
  • Person insists on pursuing an unfounded complaint, beyond all reason
  • Person pursues unrealistic outcomes, beyond all reason
  • Person pursues a valid complaint, but in an unreasonable manner
  • Complaint is designed to cause disruption or annoyance
  • 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 might decide to resolve complaints informally first,