Westport North School | Cobden St, Westport 7825, New Zealand | Phone 03 789 7172

Westport North School



The distinction between concerns and complaints generally relates to seriousness and formality.  Concerns are generally dealt with by raising them with the staff involved and would normally be able to be resolved, or passed on for future reference or guidance. Complaints generally relate to more serious claims of inappropriate actions and are likely to be dealt with more formally and in writing.  Concerns that are not considered to have been adequately addressed, may become formal complaints.


In the first instance concerns or complaints should be taken up with the staff member involved, unless there are good reasons why this is not appropriate.

A copy of this procedure will be published in the school newsletter at least once a year and reference to it will be made in the school enrolment booklet. Reference to the procedure will be included in the Staff Handbook.



1.    The school encourages anyone with a concern to express this to the most appropriate person so that a resolution can be obtained. Concerns can provide useful feedback to staff.

2.    Concerns should generally be expressed to the staff member who is the closest to the matter; classroom, class programme and student concerns to the relevant class teacher, team concerns to the team leader, school wide and other concerns to the principal.

3.    For significant concerns making an appointment with the staff member is advisable, indicating the general nature of the concern. Staff cannot easily deal with concerns immediately before or after class, particularly without notice.

4.    If a concern is not resolved in the first instance the person raising it may choose to take it to the team leader or, in the case of having first raised it with the team leader, to the principal. Again, an appointment should be made, outlining the general nature of the concern. 

5.    Parties are to make every effort to achieve an agreed outcome where this is feasible.

6.    Parties are expected to work with one another to obtain all information relating to a concern i.e. to hear and consider both sides of a story.

7.    In responding to a concern the person may need to collect information and report back to the other party at a later date.

8.    Where a concern is not resolved, the person raising the concern may choose to raise the concern as a formal written complaint. (See Formal Complaints Procedure.)



1.    Formal complaints must be committed to writing. Assistance will be given to help anyone who has difficulty in writing their complaint.  It is helpful if written complaints also outline any steps that have been taken to resolve the issues as concerns (see Concerns Procedures).

2.    All written complaints will be signed; any anonymous letters of complaint will not be dealt with.

3.    Formal complaints concerning staff, staff actions or school procedures should be referred in the first instance to the Principal

4.    Formal complaints concerning the Principal shall be referred in the first instance to the Board of Trustees Chairperson.

5.    The recipient of the complaint will consider the nature of the complaint and the most appropriate initial steps.  Many complaints can be resolved informally without the need for formal processes.  This option should always be considered and, wherever appropriate, pursued. 

6.    No complainant, or staff member about whom a complaint has been raised, however will be required to take part in any resolution process if they consider, after having had any suggested process outlined to them, that formal investigation is more appropriate.

7.    The recipient of the complaint (principal or chairperson) will consider whether or not the complaint could be considered an allegation of misconduct on the part of the staff member.  Where this is the case, any steps taken to deal with the complaint must be consistent with the employee's employment agreement and the principles of natural justice.

8.    Where the recipient of the complaint concludes that the complaint may be an allegation of misconduct he or she may carry out some preliminary investigation in order that the board is able to make an informed decision on the need for or the nature of a formal investigation.

9.    All written complaints will be tabled (in committee) at the next Board of Trustees meeting, provided adequate notice is possible.

10.  Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the chairperson to call a special board meeting to receive and consider a complaint.

11.  Where resolution has been possible, or is in process, this will be reported to the Board of Trustees.

12.  Where a complaint involves an allegation of misconduct on the part of a staff member either the Principal or the Chairperson, as appropriate, will contact NZSTA and school's insurer at an early stage.


Board Role

1.    The Board Chairperson will acknowledge the complaint in writing within seven days, and inform the complainant in writing of any actions taken in resolution when appropriate.

2.    Complaints received by the Board of Trustees where, resolution has not been possible will be acknowledged and the likely steps to investigate or resolve the complaint will be outlined.

3.    The board will consider whether or not the complaint is one which alleges misconduct on the part of a staff member. If this is not the case, the board will consider the complaint and determine an appropriate response, either directly, or by establishing a board committee to consider the complaint.

4.    Where the board considers that a complaint alleges misconduct on the part of a staff member and it considers the alleged misconduct serious enough to warrant investigation, it will establish a committee to carry out an investigation on its behalf and it will delegate to that committee the board's powers to determine a disciplinary outcome, including its powers to dismiss if needed.

5.     Where the board establishes an investigation committee, it should exclude from the committee any board member who has a personal interest in the complaint and any board member who has been significantly involved in any attempts to resolve the complaint.  Any board member unable to approach the investigation with an "open mind" should be excluded from the committee.

6.    The investigation committee will consider the most appropriate form of investigation.  Any investigation will ensure that the staff member about whom the complaint has been raised is fully informed of the nature and details of the complaint and has access to support and representation when responding to the committee.  The rights of both the staff member and the complainant will be fully considered by the committee.

7.    The investigation committee will keep appropriate records of its processes, however it will also keep personal information confidential to the extent that this is consistent with the requirements of a fair investigation and the rights of the parties involved.

8.    The investigation committee will determine the outcome of the investigation and will put into place any disciplinary action required.  It will subsequently report to the Board of Trustees for the Board's information.

9.    All business concerning the complaint, and action resulting from it, will be held "in committee" and recorded as such.

10.  The board, or committee as appropriate, will advise the complainant of the outcome of any investigation and the nature of any actions taken.


Complaints against the Board


1.    All complaints against the Board of Trustees or a member of the Board of Trustees will be directed in writing to the Chairperson of the Board.

2.    The Board will acknowledge the complaint, consider it by the most appropriate means and inform the complainant in writing of any actions taken in resolution.