Meraki Academy Complaints Procedure.
In keeping with our core values, Meraki College of Beauty Therapy and Nail Technology is committed to providing an excellent standard of education and service to our learners. From time to time we may fall short of our high standards and it is important that those affected have an effective means of bringing this to our attention with an expectation of resolution.
This procedure is intended to allow you to raise a concern or complaint relating to the school, or the services that it provides. To enable a proper investigation, concerns or complaints should be brought to the attention of the school as soon as possible.
Raising a concern or complaint
We are committed to providing a high standard of service and treatment at all times. We are aware that sometimes we do not always get it right. When something goes wrong, we need you to tell us about it. This will help us to improve our standards.
The following steps should be taken in line with our complaints policy:
First stage (informal)
If you are not happy with the service you have received or how you have been treated by a member of staff or another student the best way to resolve it is to:
Discuss areas of your complaint directly with the member of staff concerned or with your tutor, this may be either verbally or written. If you are not comfortable in doing this, you should contact the office or a school principal
Many concerns can be resolved by simple clarification or the provision of information and it is anticipated that most complaints will be resolved by this informal stage.
The tutor or school principal will then investigate the complaint, and aim to respond to you within 5 working days
In the case of serious concerns it may be appropriate to address them directly to the principal
If you are uncertain about who to contact, please seek advice from the school office or send an email to email@example.com FAO MANAGEMENT.
Second Stage (formal)
If your concern or complaint is not resolved at the informal stage, and you are still unhappy you can let us know formally by completing the complaint form available at reception and sending an e-mail marked FAO MANAGEMENT TO education@Merakiprofessional.ie
The principal is responsible for ensuring that the complaint is investigated appropriately. However if the complaint is about the principal, you can send a hardcopy of the complaint form in an envelope marked RESTRICTED and address it to:
Owner, Unit 3/4 Glanmire Business Park, Glanmire, Co.Cork, T45Y320
Your complaint will be fully and fairly investigated. You will need to provide the names of those involved, details which might assist the investigation, such as names of potential witnesses, dates and times of events, and copies of relevant documents.
It is very important that you include a clear statement of the actions that you would like the school to take to resolve your concern. Without this, it is much more difficult to proceed.
Please pass the completed form, in a sealed envelope marked “RESTRICTED” to the school office. The envelope should be addressed to the principal or Owner as appropriate.
The principal may invite you to a meeting to clarify your concerns and to explore the possibility of an informal resolution. If you accept that invitation, you may be accompanied by a friend, if you wish to assist you in explaining the nature of your concerns.
It is possible that your complaint will be resolved through a meeting with the principal. If not, arrangements will be made for the matter to be fully investigated, using the appropriate procedure. In any case you should learn in writing, usually within 10 days of the school receiving your formal complaint, of how the school intends to proceed. This notification should include an indication of the anticipated timescale.Any investigation will begin as soon as possible and when it has been concluded, you will be informed in writing of its conclusion.
Meraki Academy Malpractice and Maladministration Policy
MALPRACTICE AND MALADMINISTRATION POLICY
This policy is aimed at staff delivering Meraki academy approved qualifications or units, and learners registered on such provision, who come across suspected or actual malpractice or maladministration. It is also for use by our staff to ensure they deal with all malpractice and maladministration investigations in a consistent manner. The policy applies to Meraki Academy.
It sets out the steps the centre, and learners or other personnel must follow when reporting suspected or actual cases of malpractice / maladministration and Meraki Academies responsibilities in dealing with such cases. It also sets out the procedural steps that will be followed when reviewing the cases.
It is important that Meraki staff involved in the management, assessment and quality assurance of our qualifications and learners, are fully aware of the contents of the policy and that the centre has arrangements in place to prevent and investigate instances of malpractice and maladministration.
A failure to report suspected or actual malpractice / maladministration cases or have in place effective arrangements to prevent such cases, may lead to sanctions being imposed on the centre.
Our Centre’s compliance with this policy and how it takes reasonable steps to prevent and / or investigate instances of malpractice and maladministration will be reviewed by Meraki Academy periodically through the on-going centre monitoring arrangements.
Definition of Malpractice
Malpractice is essentially any deliberate activity or practice which contravenes regulations and compromises the integrity of the internal or external assessment process and/or the validity of certificates. Malpractice may include a range of issues from completing assessments on behalf of learners to the deliberate falsification of records in order to claim certificates.
Definition of Maladministration
Maladministration is essentially any activity or practice which results in non-compliance with administrative regulations and requirements and includes the application of persistent mistakes or poor administration within a centre (e.g. failure to maintain appropriate learner records).
Examples of malpractice and maladministration
The categories listed below are examples of centre and learner malpractice and maladministration. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and the examples are only intended as indicative guidance on our definition of malpractice:
Failure to carry out internal assessment, internal moderation or internal verification in accordance with our requirements;
Deliberate failure to adhere to our learner registration and certification procedures;
Deliberate or persistent failure to continually adhere to our centre recognition and/or qualification approval criteria or actions assigned to your centre;
Deliberate failure to maintain appropriate auditable records, e.g. certification claims and/or forgery of evidence;
Persistent instances of maladministration within the centre;
Fraudulent claim for certificates;
The unauthorised use of inappropriate materials / equipment in assessment settings (e.g. mobile phones);
Intentional withholding of information from us which is critical to maintaining the rigour of quality assurance and standards of qualifications;
Collusion or permitting collusion in exams/assessments;
Learners still working towards qualification after certification claims have been made;
Contravention by our centres and learners of the assessment arrangements we specify for our qualifications;
A loss, theft of, or a breach of confidentiality in, any assessment materials;
Plagiarism by learners/staff;
Unauthorised amendment, copying or distributing of exam/assessment papers/materials;
Inappropriate assistance to learners by centre staff (e.g. unfairly helping them to pass a unit or qualification);
Submission of false information to gain a qualification or unit;
Deliberate failure to adhere to, or to circumvent, the requirements of our Reasonable Adjustments and Special Considerations Policy.
Process for making an allegation of malpractice or maladministration
Anybody who identifies or is made aware of suspected or actual cases of malpractice or maladministration at any time must immediately notify Meraki Academy in writing enclosing appropriate supporting evidence.
All allegations must include (as appropriate):
centre’s name, address and number;
learner’s name (where relevant)
• Meraki Academy personnel’s details (name, job role) if they are involved in the case;
details of the Meraki training course/qualification affected, or nature of the service affected;
nature of the suspected or actual malpractice and associated dates;
details and outcome of any initial investigation carried out by the centre or anybody else involved in the case, including any mitigating circumstances.
If a centre has conducted an initial investigation prior to formally notifying us, the centre should ensure that staff involved in the initial investigation are competent and have no personal interest in the outcome of the investigation. However, it is important to note that in all instances the centre must immediately notify us if they suspect malpractice or maladministration has occurred as we have a responsibility to the regulatory authorities to ensure that all investigations are carried out rigorously and effectively.
In all cases of suspected malpractice and maladministration reported to us we will protect the identity of the complainant in accordance with our duty of confidentiality and/or any other legal duty.
Confidentiality and whistle blowing
Sometimes a person making an allegation of malpractice or maladministration may wish to remain anonymous. It is always preferable to reveal your identity and contact details to us and if you are concerned about possible adverse consequences request us not to divulge your identity. If it helps to reassure you on this point, we can confirm that we are not obliged (as recommended by the regulatory authorities) to disclose information if to do so would be a breach of confidentiality and/or any other legal duty.
While Meraki Training Academy staff are prepared to investigate issues, which are reported to us anonymously we shall always try to confirm an allegation by means of a separate investigation before taking up the matter with those to whom the allegation relates. At all times we will investigate such allegations from whistle-blowers in accordance with the relevant legislation relating to whistle blowing.
Responsibility for the investigation
In accordance with regulatory requirements all suspected cases of maladministration and malpractice will be examined promptly by Meraki Training Academy to establish if malpractice or maladministration has occurred and will take all reasonable steps to prevent any adverse effect from occurring as defined by the regulatory authorities.
All suspected cases of malpractice and maladministration will be passed to the Principal of Meraki Academy who will normally acknowledge receipt, as appropriate, to external parties within 2 working days.
The Principal of Meraki Academy will be responsible for ensuring the investigation is carried out in a prompt and effective manner and in accordance with the procedures in this policy and will allocate a relevant member of staff to lead the investigation and establish whether or not the malpractice or maladministration has occurred, and review any supporting evidence received or gathered by Meraki Academy.
Meraki Academy staff members assigned to the investigation have the appropriate level of training and competence and they have had no previous involvement or personal interest in the matter.
Notifying relevant parties
In all cases of suspected or actual malpractice, we will notify the Head of the Centre involved in the allegation of the investigation and / or in the case of learner malpractice, we may ask your centre to investigate the issue in liaison with our own personnel. In doing so we may withhold details of the person making the allegation if to do so would breach a duty of confidentiality or any other legal duty.
Where applicable, the Principal of Meraki Academy will inform the appropriate regulatory authorities if it is believed there has been an incident of malpractice or maladministration which could either invalidate the award of a qualification or which could affect another awarding organisation.
Where the allegation may affect another awarding organisation and their provision we will also inform them in accordance with the regulatory requirements and obligations imposed on Meraki Academy by the regulatory authorities. If we do not know the details of organisations that might be affected, we will ask the regulatory authorities to help us identify relevant parties that should be informed.
Investigation timelines and summary process
Meraki Academy aim to action and resolve all stages of the investigation within 10 working days of receipt of the allegation. Please note that in some cases the investigation may take longer; for example, if a centre visit is required. In such instances, we will keep all parties fully informed of the revised timescales and progress.
The fundamental principle of all investigations is to conduct them in a fair, reasonable and legal manner, ensuring that all relevant evidence is considered without bias. In doing so investigations will be based around the following broad objectives:
To establish the facts relating to allegations/complaints in order to determine whether any irregularities have occurred;
To identify the cause of the irregularities and those involved;
To establish the scale of the irregularities;
To evaluate any action already taken by the centre;
To determine whether remedial action is required To reduce the risk to current registered learners and to preserve the integrity of the qualification;
To ascertain whether any action is required in respect of certificates already issued;
To obtain clear evidence to support any sanctions To be applied to the centre, and/or to members of staff, in accordance with our Sanctions Policy;
To identify any adverse patterns or trends.
The investigation may involve a request for further information from relevant parties and/or interviews with personnel involved in the investigation. Therefore, we will:
Ensure all material collected as part of an investigation must be kept secure. All records and original documentation concerning a completed investigation that ultimately leads to sanctions against a centre will be retained for a period of not less than five years. If an investigation leads to invalidation of certificates, or criminal or civil prosecution, all records and original documentation relating to the case will be retained until the case and any appeals have been heard and for five years thereafter;
Expect all parties, who are either directly or indirectly involved in the investigation, to fully co-operate with us.
Either at notification of a suspected or actual case of malpractice or maladministration and / or at any time during the investigation, we reserve the right to impose sanctions on the centre in accordance with our Sanctions Policy in order to protect the interests of learners and the integrity of the qualifications.
Meraki Academy also reserve the right to withhold a learner’s, and/or cohorts’ results for all the courses / qualifications and / or units they are studying at the time of the notification or investigation of suspected or actual malpractice / maladministration.
If appropriate, we may find that the complexity of a case or a lack of cooperation from a centre means that we are unable to complete an investigation. In such circumstances we will consult the relevant regulatory authority in order to determine how best to progress the matter.
Where a member of Meraki Academy staff is under investigation we may suspend them, or move them to other duties until the investigation is complete.
Throughout the investigation our principal of Meraki Academy will be responsible for overseeing the work of the investigation team to ensure that due process is being followed, appropriate evidence has been gathered and reviewed and for liaising with and keeping informed relevant external parties.
After an investigation, a draft report will be produced for the parties concerned to check the factual accuracy. Any subsequent amendments will be agreed between the parties concerned and ourselves.
The final report will be made available to the parties concerned and to the regulatory authorities and other external agencies as required.
If Meraki Academy were notified of the suspected or actual case of malpractice by a third party, they will also be informed of the outcome – normally within 10 working days of making our decision. In doing so we may withhold some details if to disclose such information would breach a duty of confidentiality or any other legal duty.
Where there is an internal investigation against a member of Meraki Academy staff the report will be agreed by the Director’s of Access and Compliance with the relevant internal line manager(s) and HR and appropriate internal disciplinary procedures will be implemented.
If the investigation confirms that malpractice or maladministration has taken place, we may:
impose actions in relation to your centre with specified deadlines in order to address the instance of malpractice / maladministration and to prevent it from reoccurring;
impose sanctions on your centre – if so these will be communicated to you in accordance with our sanctions policy along with the rationale for the sanction(s) selected;
in cases where certificates are deemed to be invalid, inform your centre and the regulatory authorities why they are invalid and any action to be taken for reassessment and/or for the withdrawal of the certificates. We will also ask your centre to let the affected learners know the action we are taking and that their original certificates are invalid which – where possible – should be returned to Meraki Academy. We will also amend our database so that duplicates of the invalid certificates cannot be issued and we expect the centre to amend their records to show that the original awards are invalid;
amend aspects of our qualification assessment and / or monitoring arrangements and associated guidance to prevent the issue from reoccurring;
inform relevant third parties (e.g. funding bodies) of our findings in case they need to take relevant action in relation to the centre.
In proven cases of malpractice and / or maladministration by a centre, Meraki Academy reserves the right to charge the centre for any resits and reissuing of certificates and/or additional external verifier visits. These fees will be the current Meraki Academy prices for such activities at the time of the investigation.
In addition, to the above the Principal of Meraki Academy will record any lessons learnt from the investigation and pass these onto relevant internal colleagues to help Meraki Academy prevent the same instance of maladministration or malpractice from reoccurring.
We will review the policy regularly as part of our annual self-evaluation arrangements and revise it as and when necessary in response to customer and learner feedback, changes in our practices, actions from the regulatory authorities or external agencies, changes in legislation, or trends identified from previous allegations.
In addition, this policy may be updated in light of operational feedback to ensure our arrangements for dealing with suspected cases of malpractice and maladministration remain effective.
If you would like to feedback any views, please contact us via the details provided at the end of this policy.
If you’ve any queries about the contents of the policy, please contact Meraki Academy
Briefing and record-keeping
Anyone involved in the conduct of an investigation should have a clear brief and understanding of their role.
All investigators must maintain an auditable record of every action during an investigation to demonstrate that they have acted appropriately.
The officer assigning the investigating officer(s) will stipulate and/or provide secure storage arrangements for all material associated with an investigation in case of subsequent legal challenge.
Establishing the facts
Investigators should review the evidence and associated documentation, including relevant Meraki Academy guidance on the delivery of the qualifications and related quality assurance arrangements.
Issues to be determined:
what occurred (nature of malpractice/substance of the allegations);
Why the incident occurred;
Who was involved in the incident;
When it occurred;
Where it occurred – there may be more than one location;
What action, if any, the centre has taken.
Interviews should be thoroughly prepared, conducted appropriately and underpinned by clear records of the interviews. For example:
Interviews should include prepared questions; responses should be recorded;
Interviewers may find it helpful to use the ‘PEACE’ technique; Plan and evaluation.
Face-to-face interviews should normally be conducted by two people with one person primarily acting as interviewer and the other as note-taker.
Those being interviewed should be informed that they may have another individual of their choosing present and that they do not have to answer the questions. These arrangements aim to protect the rights of all individuals.
In some cases, learners or employers may need to be contacted for facts and information. This may be done via face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, by post or by email.
Whichever method is used, the investigator will have a set of prepared questions. The responses will be recorded in writing as part of confirmation of the evidence. Investigators should log the number of attempts made to contact an individual.
Wherever possible documentary evidence should be authenticated by reference to the author; this may include asking learners and others to confirm handwriting, dates and signatures.
Receipts should be given for any documentation removed from a centre.
Independent expert opinion may be obtained from subject specialists about a learner’s evidence and/or from a specialist organisation such as a forensic examiner, who may comment on the validity of documents.
Once the investigators have gathered and reviewed all relevant evidence, a decision is made on the outcome.
A draft report is prepared and factual accuracy agreement obtained. The final report is submitted to the Principal of Meraki Academy for review and sign-off and shared with relevant parties in accordance with the arrangements outlined in our Malpractice and Maladministration Policy.
Any resultant action plan is implemented
Meraki Academy Appeals procedure.
Learner Appeals Policy and Procedure
Meraki Academy allows all learners to appeal decisions made in the area of admissions, attendance, assessment and learner discipline. The Appeals procedure is designed to allow learners to have any decision which they consider unfair, relating to admissions, attendance, assessment or discipline, reviewed.
All members of staff are responsible for operating and implementing the Appeals policy and procedure by ensuring that the learners have the opportunity to discuss any problems informally. If problems reach the formal stage, staff should ensure that learners have access to the Appeals Policy and Procedure.
In the first instance, the learner should discuss any potential appeal, with his/her Course Tutor and/or the Centre Manager to try and settle the issue in an informal way.
If, after discussion, the learner wishes to make a formal appeal against a Centre decision, the appeal should be sent in writing to the Director of Further Education and Training within one week of receiving the decision.
This can be done by email or letter.
The letter or email should include any new information that the learner wishes to highlight.
Learners requiring help to write this letter or email should contact a member of centre staff or other appropriate person.
Once an appeal has been received, all information concerning the appeal will be logged by the Director.
All written requests for an appeal will normally be acknowledged within 7 days of receipt. An appeal hearing will then be held to allow the learner to explain the basis of the appeal.
The learner may choose to be accompanied by a representative or friend.
The Director of Meraki Academy will set up an Appeals Panel which will consist of the Director plus one member of Staff, and up to a maximum of two other appropriate members of staff.
None of the Appeals Panel will have been involved in the original decision.
After the Appeal has been heard, the Panel will tell the learner of their decision as soon as possible and confirm this decision in writing to the learner, normally within 7 working days.
A copy of the written decision of the Panel will be retained by the centre.
The decision of the Appeals Panel is final.
Meraki Academy Office
Unit 3/4glanmire business park