Don't panic

17th March 2000 at 00:00
AN irate parent has written a letter of complaint about me to the Secretary of State. I have seen a copy and it is a travesty of untruths and libellous as far as I am concerned. What should I do?

In the words of Corporal Jones "Don't panic". The Department for Education and Employment must receive hundreds of such letters every year.

We can safely assume that very few of them ever reach the desk of the Secretary of State. Nonetheless, the civil servants who deal with them have to investigate and be satisfied that, where a grievance is genuine, it is remedied, and, where it is not, then an appropriate response is delivered.

The usual process is tha the department will write to your local education authority asking for its view. The LEA will investigate, probably seeking a report from the head, or the governors, and will duly send an answer. If the department is satisfied, it will reply to the complainant and hope that the matter is closed.

All you have to do is to comply patiently and professionally with what is required of you, to keep your cool and recognise that such events are an inescapable corollary of public leadership.

Please send your questions to The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1W 1BX. Archimedes regrets he cannot enter into any private correspondence

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