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Apprenticeship and Qualifications Team complaints policy

The Apprenticeship and Qualifications Team (AQT) Complaints Policy, Procedure and Practice is to be used if your complaint is about an apprenticeship programme that is being delivered directly by East Sussex County Council via the in-house ACT.

Last reviewed October 2021.


This policy needs to be read in conjunction with the wider East Sussex County Council (ESCC) complaints policy .

This policy is an extension of the ESCC policy and relates to the procedures for complaints relating to the Apprenticeship and qualifications team (AQT). 

The AQT strives to ensure that all learners and employers have a successful and enjoyable experience through the apprenticeship programme.  We have a commitment to our students and stakeholders to ensure that any complaints they may have about our service are dealt with fairly, efficiently and effectively.  We also recognise that complaints can be used actively to improve our performance.  We take all complaints very seriously whether made in writing, phone or verbally. Whilst we hope it is unlikely that managers, employers and/or apprentices will need to use the complaints procedure, it is important that all relevant parties are familiar with it at the beginning of the programme and apprenticeship coaches will check regularly with their apprentices to ensure they remember how this complaints procedure works.

At induction and through regular contact with students we make clear to complainants how to contact us when things go wrong and will ensure that we are sensitive to issues of confidentiality.  We also set ourselves a deadline to respond to complaints.  Complaints are regularly analysed and reported on to senior managers and to the apprenticeship steering group. 

All complaints will be given careful consideration and dealt with fairly, honestly and consistently. The AQT team will provide sufficient opportunity for any complaint to be fully discussed and aims to resolve it through open dialogues and mutual understanding.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is when you tell us that you are not happy with our services. We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf. Complaints can cover all parts of the services offered by the AQT team.

Policy Context 

When does this apply?

This policy applies to students individually or in a group and stakeholders including members of the local community who use our services.  

It covers any expression of dissatisfaction or concern about:

  • Provisions of Apprenticeships or qualifications affecting applicants, apprentices, employers, stakeholders
  • Actions or lack of actions by AQT team and its staff
  • Standards of service or quality of any staff, courses or facilities provided by the AQT team

This policy does not cover the following

  • Matters covered by separate policies or procedures including Equal Opportunities:
    • where a complaint is made and there is a separate policy the procedure in the relevant policy will be followed.
  • Assessment decisions that are out of our control e.g. those made by External Performance Assessors:
    • the external provider's complaints policy will be followed.

Location and access to the Policy 

  • For students and employers
  • Introduced at induction
  • Summary within the apprentice and employer handbook
  • Summary on the commitment statement
  • By email from esqac@eastsussex.gov.uk
  • For staff
  • The 365 drive – Apprenticeship policies and procedures

ESCC AQT complaints procedure

Complaints procedure and how to raise a complaint

This procedure sets out the way in which the East Sussex County Council Apprenticeship and Qualifications Team deals with complaints made about its staff, services or students, the stages and processes for the complainant and the timeline for complaints to be resolved.

  • It is intended for use by the ESCC apprenticeship and qualifications students, parents, employers, former students and staff.
  • Before using this procedure, complainants are requested (where appropriate) to talk directly about their dissatisfaction with the individual(s) involved, to see if an informal resolution is possible. 

Where informal resolution is not possible the complainant should contact the following personnel with escalation through the stages as appropriate.

Stage 1

  • Your trainer or apprenticeship coach's name and contact details will be given at induction:
    • your apprentice coach can be contacted at any (reasonable) time to discuss an issue but if they are busy or cannot take your call for whatever reason then leave a message and they will get back in touch as soon as they can. In most circumstances, your workplace will let you call from there provided you seek their permission.
    • if your complaint is about an apprenticeship coach please progress from stage 2.

Stage 2

  • If not satisfied with the response from your trainer / apprenticeship coach or it is about your trainer / apprenticeship coach please contact your relevant lead with details of the complaint:
  • The lead will log and acknowledge the complaint within 48 hours (if on annual leave an alternative email address will be given).
  • An investigation will be conducted by the lead within 10 working days of its receipt.
  • The Lead will pass their finding to the AQT Manager, (who records all complaints centrally) for review, once the centre manager is satisfied that the matter has been robustly investigated, the lead will respond to the complainant within 14 days of the initial complaint with the outcome of the investigation.
  • If the complaint relates to serious staff incompetence or inappropriate behaviour, then the lead and, or the AQT manager will follow and, where appropriate, arrange for an investigation under the ESCC Disciplinary Policy, which will include interviews with the complainant, the individual(s) complained of, and witnesses.

Stage 3

  • If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the relevant lead the next stage is to contact the Apprenticeship and Qualifications Team manager, Angela Wooller, email angela.wooller@eastsussex.gov.uk, with details of continued dissatisfaction or further information regarding the investigation. 
  • The AQT Manager may seek to resolve the complaint based on any further information received. Following investigation and within 14 days a written response will be produced detailing whether the complaint is upheld or not and detailing action(s) necessary to resolve the issue.

Some issues may be more complex and may therefore require longer to be fully investigated.  Consequently, all timescales given for handling and responding to Stages 2 and 3 may be subject to change.

Stage 4 

  • If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the AQT centre manager the next stage will be to contact the East Sussex County Council Complaints Team:

Stage 5

Learning from feedback

In order for the AQT to learn and improve from all forms of feedback including complaints; accurate and complete records of all complaints received, resulting in correspondence, interviews and actions taken will be maintained.  All feedback will be constantly used to initiate change and improvements to the provision.

A report on complaints received and their outcomes will be submitted to the AQT Management team for consideration to give an overview of common areas that need to be addressed and to make improvements to improve our service and effectiveness. The complaints procedure will be evaluated on an annual basis by the AQT management team.