MAEL aims to maintain excellent relationships with its employees, teaching centres, enrolled learners and the Montessori community at large. It expects to achieve this through a policy of transparency, fair dealing and the provision of a high quality of services and products. Should any grievance arise then MAEL has a detailed set of procedures for investigating issues (see separate policy, section 4.15), dealing with complaints (as follows) and operating an appeals procedure (see section 4.4).

Compliments
It is a general rule of thumb in business practice that employees work optimally when they receive at least 3 positive comments for each negative one. Everyone in a managerial position should lead by example in this respect. However, empty or false compliments must be avoided.
Compliments from the public or from users should be communicated to the MD, who will keep them on file. They will be logged in a compliments book, recording at least the date of receipt, their content and the date they were communicated to the relevant person(s) involved. Any usage in advertising or publicity materials will only be based on documented compliments and will be fully anonymitised.

Complaints or Grievances
Any enquiry from a Centre or learner or any other aggrieved person will be responded to within 14 days.   If a full response cannot be provided then an estimated time scale for a full response will be indicated, with an explanation as to why the information is not immediately available. The MD will accept responsibility for overseeing that these time scales are adhered to and that the investigations procedures are followed.

All communications will be answered courteously and in accordance with the policy on professional ethics. Confidentiality (or any other legal duty) must be observed and users must understand that information cannot be released if it would breach any legal duty.

If a serious issue arises which cannot be dealt with by a simple exchange of communications, then the grievance procedures must be followed.

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Complaints Procedure (for Teaching Centres)
If any Centre feels they have a grievance, they should first discuss it informally with MAEL’s MD. If this does not solve the problem, the Centre should put the grievance in writing.
The full procedure to be followed is laid out in the Teaching Centre Operating Manual, section 3.7.2.1 Please note: There can be no appeal against conditions imposed by regulatory authorities, or against the standards for the assessment of any qualification.   Complaints can only be considered if they relate to maladministration, breach of policy or failure to maintain published standards.

Complaints Procedure (for Learners)
All Centres must have a grievance policy in place, and its operation will be monitored by the MD through a requirement to share the results of any complaint, as part of the contract with MAEL.   It is anticipated that most problems with candidates will be handled by the Centre concerned.  All complaints, on receipt, and the outcome, must be reported to MAEL.
The full procedure to be followed is laid out in the Teaching Centre Operating Manual, section 3.7.2.3

Grievance Procedure (for Staff)
If any member of staff feels they have a grievance, they should first discuss it informally with the person involved.
If a satisfactory outcome cannot be negotiated, the conversation should be followed up in writing, and discussed with their immediate supervisor.  Employees should consider obtaining free advice from ACAS (helpline 08457 474747).
If this still does not solve the problem, the staff member should contact the MD putting the grievance in writing.   If a grievance is raised in the course of a disciplinary process, the employer should consider suspending the disciplinary procedure for a temporary period in order to deal with the grievance.
The MD will offer a face to face interview within 28 days of the written complaint, to which the staff member is invited to come with an accompanying friend or representative.  A written response will be given to this interview within 21 days of it taking place.
If this still is deemed not to be satisfactory, then an independent arbitrator will be appointed who is approved by both parties. Costs for the arbitration process will be borne by the party who is deemed to be at fault.
If this still does not solve the problem, then the following steps may be taken:
 Referral to an employment tribunal
 Issuance of a court order
Nothing in the above policy diminishes the employee’s rights in law.   In the case of ‘whistle-blowing’, if the employee is vindicated in their complaint then the employer will take no recriminatory action in any way, provided the procedure was followed.

Allegations against Staff
Any allegation or complaint against a member of MAEL’s staff must be reported immediately to the MD who will instigate the investigation procedure. However, should the allegation relate to any matter of child protection, it will be referred immediately to the Local Area Designated Officer (LADO) and their advice followed.
Confidentiality will be observed in all situations, in accordance with the Data Protection policy. The MD will follow the same procedure as if a formal complaint had been made if he/she concludes that there is a substantive case. The procedures of the Whistle-blowing policy will also be observed. At the end of the process the MD will report the outcome to the Board of Directors.
The complainant will be replied to within no more than 14 days, with either a request for clarification or a proposed solution. In the latter case they will be offered the option of a face-to-face meeting with the MD, to which they may bring a friend or legal representative, if dissatisfied with the proposal. Should this meeting not produce an agreed resolution the appeals procedure will come into force.

Page reviewed 11.05.2021