The behaviour policy and complaints procedure below were passed by NCAFC’s January 2017 conference. They describe the standards of behaviour we seek to uphold in our activities and at our events, and the process for making and handling complaints.
As set out below, complaints should be addressed to the National Committee (NC):
- The simplest thing to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org to reach the NC.
- However, if you want to talk to an individual rather than the entire committee, you can get in touch with any individual member of the NC (see here for a list of those elected at our last conference).
- The following NC members have volunteered to have their contact details shared for this purpose:
- At NCAFC conferences, we may specify some suggested people to contact, but as always, you may contact any NC member.
NCAFC is committed to fighting for an education system that is public, democratic, open and accessible to all, and oriented towards free enquiry, the needs and interests of society, and liberation from existing hierarchies and oppressions. We seek to dismantle, rather than perpetuate, existing oppressions and hierarchies within our communities and campaigns. We are a democratic political organisation, so discussion, debate and democratic processes are how we work through our disagreements and collective decisions.
If we are to achieve these aims, we must expect certain standards of behaviour of ourselves and those involved in our organisation, both at our events and in wider society.
We must not:
- discriminate against anyone on the basis of ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, age, sexuality, language, disability, asylum status or any other structurally oppressive criteria
- perpetrate verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence
In addition, we expect ourselves and each other, as members and participants at our events, to:
- behave in a comradely and co-operative way towards one another
- avoid causing those around us unnecessary offence or anxiety
- respect the facilitatory methods of the Chair and only challenge them through the appropriate structures
- listen to others when they are speaking, not interrupt and wait for our turn to speak
- treat one another with respect, debating political ideas where we disagree without resorting to personal attacks or disrespectful language
- respect the aims and democratic processes of NCAFC and behave with honesty and integrity
We all have a responsibility to each other and NCAFC to uphold these standards of behaviour and challenge others around us if they fail to meet these standards. If you feel that anyone’s behaviour is not meeting these standards, in general, the first recourse should be to speak to this person privately and informally about their behaviour, or ask another member or NC member to do so. However, in cases where someone’s behaviour fails to meet these standards in a serious way, especially with regards to points 1. and 2., or repeatedly fails to meet these standards, a formal complaint may be submitted.
- To make a formal complaint about a member or attendee at an event, the complainant should write to the National Committee, or if they prefer an NC member (or members) of their choice, who can discuss the complaint with the rest of the NC while preserving the complainant’s anonymity.
- Upon receiving the complaint, the NC will decide whether or not to investigate the complaint. All complaints should be treated seriously and assumed to be submitted in good faith unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary. If the complaint is against a NC member, they are not to take part in any discussions or decisions relating to the complaint and the rest of the NC may also decide to suspend them from the NC pending the outcome of the complaint.
- If the complaint is deemed serious enough, a group of NC members should be convened to investigate the complaint. Factors such as the diversity of the group and members’ relationships to the accused/complainant (unless submitted anonymously) should be considered to ensure as representative and fair a group as possible.
- The group will ask for any statement from the complainant in addition to their complaint. The accused will be informed of the details of the complaint made against them, with the complainant’s wishes regarding anonymity respected, and will also be asked for a statement. The group may also ask questions of the complainant and accused, and any other people as it deems necessary. The group should proceed with sensitivity and unintrusiveness if asking questions of a complainant whose complaint is on the basis of abuse or violence.
- While the procedure is ongoing, the NC may take the decision to suspend the member or ban them from attending events, including asking them to leave an event if a complaint is made during an event, pending the outcome of the investigation.
- When the group has considered the statements of the complainant and accused and any other information they have gathered, they will decide whether the accused’s behaviour:
- is a threat to the functioning of the organisation
- runs contrary to the aims of the organisation
- discriminates against members of oppressed groups
- poses a danger or harm to members of the organisation
- If the accused’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, the group will suggest a course of action the NC should take, which could include but is not limited to: giving the perpetrator a warning about their behaviour, banning the perpetrator from events and/or expelling them from the organisation.
- The NC will have the final decision as to the course of action to take, according to any conditions or procedures set out in the constitution, with the delegated group’s recommendations considered.
- The process up to this point should take no more than either 30 days from the original complaint or 5 days after the soonest NC meeting after the complaint was made, whichever is longer.The NC members are to treat all statements received and answers to questions as confidential and are not to talk about the details of the investigation to anyone outside the NC.
- If the complainant and/or accused disagrees with the decision, they can appeal the decision by writing to the NC within 30 days of the outcome. The NC can decide to uphold the decision, review the course of action or reopen the investigation, convening a different delegated group but following the same procedures as listed above. No further appeals can be made after this point.
- If the accused is expelled, they may apply for membership again in the future and the NC will make the decision to accept or reject their membership at the time their application is received.
- In cases where the complaint is related to verbal, physical or sexual abuse, bullying or violence, NC members will work with the complainant, if the complainant so wishes, to ensure that they have a support group around them and access to relevant services.