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Further Education

November 19, 2009

If you are unhappy with the services of your post-16 school or college, or have faced a problem with the funding of your further education course you can make a complaint.

Who can you complain to?

The right person to complain to in the first instance depends on the specific complaint – see below.

What grounds do you have to complain?

Further education is education and training which takes place after the school-leaving age of 16. In contrast to higher education (which provides mainly academic-based education), further education provides both academic and vocational education and training.


Complain directly to the college authorities if you are unhappy about any of the following:

  • teaching standards
  • administration
  • facilities (availability of necessary library books, catering arrangements etc)
  • equal opportunities policy, including sex and race discrimination and disabled access
  • availability and accuracy of information
  • All colleges should have mechanisms in place for dealing with formal complaints and should respond within 10 working days, with an explanation of their decision.

Availability of courses

If you want to take a particular course, but have discovered that it is not available at a college within a reasonable travelling distance, you should complain to the local Learning and Skills Council.

If your complaint is about a general education and leisure course that does not lead to a formal qualification contact your local education authority (LEA).

Course Content

If you are unhappy about the quality of a particular a course, complain to your college. If you are still unhappy contact the LSC.

If you are unhappy about the quality of a particular qualification, complain to the relevant awarding body, or the accrediting body (the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) for NVQs and GNVQs, GCSEs, GCE A levels and AS examinations).

LEAs(for example, about grants)

If you think your LEA has treated you unfairly (been slow in processing your grant or has made serious administrative errors etc) you should complain to a council official or to your local councillor. You can also complain to the local government ombudsman.


The awards section of your LEA processes grants to students for attendance at university or courses at a similar level. In addition, the following grants are made by the council to support students not eligible for government assistance:

Minor awards for students aged 16-19 attending preparatory and vocational courses up to and including A-level standard.

Intermediate awards for students aged over 19 attending vocational courses who have been out of full-time education for three years.

Discretionary major awards for students, irrespective of age, attending courses of post A-level standard.

Contact the awards section if you feel they have made a mistake. If you are dissatisfied complain to a council official. Thereafter, contact the LSC.

Will I get a fair hearing?

All complaints procedures are internal except for the local government ombudsman, who is independent (see appeals, below).

What will happen if I’m successful?

If your complaint is found to be justified then matters should be put right to your satisfaction.

If you have complained to the local government ombudsman and they find in your favour they may recommend, for example, that your LEA pays you compensation.

Anything else I can do?

If you are still unhappy after complaining to your LEA you can refer the matter to the local government ombudsman. The local government ombudsmen investigate complaints of injustice arising from maladministration by local authorities and certain other bodies.