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Internal and external reviews for school or preschool complaints

If the complainant (the person that made the complaint) has exhausted all avenues to resolve their concern and is not satisfied that it has been sufficiently addressed or actioned, they may seek an internal or external review.

Internal review

An internal review is an option available to customers who have made a complaint about a school or preschool decision and their matter has been reviewed, addressed and finalised by the Customer Feedback Unit (CFU). If the complainant is not satisfied that it has been sufficiently addressed or actioned, they may seek an internal review.

The review will consider if:

  • policy and procedure has been followed in a school or preschool decision or action
  • more information is to be sought and reviewed
  • the complaint has been addressed in accordance to the department's complaint management policy.

The CFU will review documents, decisions and processes. They will contact relevant people involved in the original decision to seek, clarify and source any additional relevant information.

The CFU does not make or overturn decisions. They review the circumstances surrounding the school or preschool complaint, then make findings or recommendations to the relevant executives.

An internal review, in accordance with the department’s complaint management policy, is undertaken by an officer of the CFU. This is usually a different officer to the one that dealt with the original complaint. They will conduct a desktop audit of all relevant documents, processes, decisions and discussions.

Applying for an internal review

The option to seek an internal review is available for up to 4 weeks after you have been advised in writing by the CFU that a matter is finalised.

You can request an internal review by completing an application for internal review (PDF 1,343KB) and forwarding to the manager, CFU.

You need to clearly explain:

  • why you are not satisfied with how your matter has been addressed
  • specific examples of where you believe that policy or procedure has not been followed
  • any further information you feel should be considered (be specific and provide evidence if possible).

Your request will be acknowledged via email within 2 working days and you will be contacted within 7 working days by a CFU officer to explain what happens next. 

If you believe there are special circumstances that may need to be considered outside of the 4 week period (such as additional information being sourced that was not available at the time the matter was originally considered) you can contact the manager, CFU, and request consideration of the 4 week period to be waived.

Internal review process

The review process involves 7 steps. Here is what you can expect:

  • within 2 days – acknowledgement of receipt of the request
  • within 7 days – contact from the CFU officer undertaking the review
  • within 6 weeks – the review is conducted. This includes re-examination of all relevant materials such as emails, telephone calls, documents, decisions and processes. This may include speaking with people involved in the original decision
  • throughout the period of review – progress updates of the review including notice of any unexpected delays
  • within 6 to 7 weeks – a draft copy of the report emailed to you (and other people directly involved) for feedback
  • within 14 days – all feedback on the draft report received by the CFU
  • within 10 to 12 weeks – a final report provided to all parties to the complaint.

Third party information may be required to be redacted to ensure the department’s compliance with the Information Privacy Principles and other legislative confidentiality requirements.

Possible findings or recommendations from the internal review

After the internal review, possible finding or recommendations may include:

  • a breach of policy or procedure is identified resulting in amendments or changes to practice
  • there may be a statement confirming the decision, practice, procedure or a statement of regret, if warranted
  • an acknowledgement that the matter was handled appropriately or could have been handled better
  • an improvement in system management is identified and adopted.

External reviews

Applying for an external review

If you've exhausted all avenues of the complaint management process with the department, or if you are not satisfied that your matter has been sufficiently considered and actioned, you may want to seek an external review.

Ombudsman SA

A complaint can be made about an administrative action or inaction by the department to the Ombudsman SA (OSA). The circumstances of the complaint will influence whether the option of an external review is available. A formal complaint can be made to the OSA by phone or in writing.

Other options

Consider the following options if you are still dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint.

  • The Education Standards Board (ESB) is a State Government authority that regulates early childhood services and schools. If your complaint is in relation to compliance with the law, or you are unsure whether the ESB has the legislative capacity to respond to your complaint, contact them by email esb.schools [at] sa.gov.au or phone 1800 882 413.
  • If you want to work out if your complaint falls within responsibilities of the Teachers Registration Board (TRB) of SA, about conduct of a registered teacher, refer to the TRB complaint about a teacher information sheet (PDF 305KB). You can call them for an initial enquiry on (08) 8253 9700.

This information is part of the complaint management policy.