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Feedback and complaints about a school or preschool

We recognise that sometimes things go wrong or expectations are not met.

If you have a complaint or feedback, we want to hear from you. It can help us improve services.

If we work together – it’s easier to find a solution. 

Everyone involved in a complaint must be courteous and respectful to each other.

You can give feedback or make a complaint anonymously. However if we are not able to pass on specific names, the response you receive might be general.

Before you make a complaint about a school or preschool

Always speak to your school or preschool first.

  1. If you have a concern, make a time to speak with a leader. A leader at your school or preschool must have a chance to respond to your concern before the department’s Customer Feedback Unit (CFU) can become involved.
    A leader can be the school principal, deputy principal or preschool director.
    If you give them a chance to respond to your concern, it can lead to a quicker solution.  
  2. Think about what will help with your concern.
  3. See if you need help to make a complaint for other support options or call the Customer Feedback unit (CFU) on 1800 677 435.
  4. If you need information in a different language see translations of raising a complaint with the department.

Not addressed by a school or preschool

If you feel your matter has not been addressed by a school or preschool leader, you can contact the Customer Feedback unit:

If you're not sure who to contact, contact the Department for Education’s general enquiry line for help:

  • phone 1800 088 158
  • education.customers [at] sa.gov.au.

Giving feedback about other department areas

If your concern is not about a school or preschool you can:

  • submit an online feedback form
  • call the general enquiry line on 1800 677 435
  • email education.customers [at] sa.gov.au.

When you make a complaint

  • Be clear about your issue and what you want to happen.
  • Give complete and honest information.
  • Give more information if asked for it.

Types of concerns and complaints

You may choose to make a complaint if you believe a school or preschool has:

  • done something incorrect
  • failed to do something they should have done
  • acted unfairly or impolitely.

Your complaint or feedback might be about:

  • the type, level or quality of service
  • the behaviour and decisions of staff
  • a policy, procedure or practice.

If you are unhappy with something that has to be done due to law, we will talk to you about why.

Tips to make a complaint

Complaint made in person

If you make a complaint in person, take time to prepare.

Here’s some things to think about.

  • Make a time to meet to talk about your concern.
  • Know what outcome you want. Think about what will help with your concerns.
  • Make a list of the points you want to talk about.
  • Before you meet, let the school or preschool know what outcome you want. This gives them time to look into it. This can help get a quicker answer.
  • Advise if you want to bring someone with you (a friend or advocate) before you meet.
  • Take relevant documents, a pen and paper to the meeting.
  • Record who else is involved. For example who have you already talked to about your concern?

Complaints made in writing

  • Sometimes it helps if a complaint is put in writing or email. Especially if it’s complicated.
  • It gives you time to describe the points you want to make clearly.
  • Usually means you will get a written response that you can refer back to if needed.
  • It gives staff time to look into your concern so they can see how they can help.

Complaints made on the phone

If you make a complaint or give feedback on the phone think about:

  • what time you call so you won’t be distracted and you’re prepared
  • staying calm so you can be clear about your concern
  • being as specific as you can and stick to the facts
  • sending an email before you call as this can help get a quicker answer.

After you make a complaint

You might get:

  • a reason for actions or decision taken
  • a short message early on to let you know your complaint has been received
  • a chance to explain your point of view and clear up any confusion or misunderstandings
  • told who will manage your complaint, how long it’ll take and next steps
  • information about the policy, procedure or guideline that relates to your complaint.

What can happen after your complaint has been looked into

  • The concern might be confirmed or you might get information to show why it’s not able to be proven.
  • A decision, process or procedure might be changed or you might get more information about why it cannot be. For example, it can be due to policy or law.
  • It might be confirmed that the matter was managed properly or could have been handled better.

Unreasonable conduct and complaints

Remember – the staff member you make a complaint to wants to help you.

We understand you might feel frustrated or upset when you make a complaint. However this is not an excuse for unreasonable conduct. 

If conduct becomes unreasonable there are steps that will be taken to manage this.

The response will depend on how serious the conduct is.

Responses can include:

  • limited access to staff and premises
  • restricted ways to communicate
  • contact from SA Police.

Unreasonable conduct includes:

  • constant phone calls, visits, letters and emails after you have a response to a complaint 
  • threats, harassment, demands, yelling, insults, violence.

Refer to unreasonable customer conduct for more information.

Will I be treated fairly?

You will not be discriminated against if you make a complaint.

All staff are bound by the Code of Ethics for South Australian Public Sector.

This requires staff to act impartially, fairly and equitably.