Tuesday 16 July 2024
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Nottingham

Council to pay £7,700 to mother after failing to provide special needs schooling, rules Ombudsman

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ruled that a local council failed to provide adequate educational support for a child with special needs.

The child is identified as Child X.

The child’s mother, referred to as Mrs. F, lodged the complaint with Nottinghamshire County Council, stating that the council’s shortcomings led to a loss of education and mental distress for her daughter. The Ombudsman found that the council’s proposed remedy was insufficient and has recommended further actions.

Background

Mrs. F’s daughter, Child X, has multiple health and developmental conditions that impact her ability to engage with education. Despite having an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, the council failed to find a suitable special school for her, leading to a loss of educational provision and causing distress to both the child and her mother.

Key Issues

• Delayed Consultation: Mrs. F complained that the council delayed consulting specialist placements for her daughter, even after it was clear that her current school could no longer meet her needs.

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• Poor Communication: The council failed to keep Mrs. F informed about the progress of finding a suitable school for her daughter.

• Failure to Accept Placement: The council delayed accepting a placement offer at a suitable independent school, causing further delays in Child X’s education.

• Lack of Alternative Provision: The council failed to arrange suitable alternative educational provision for Child X in the interim.

Legal Framework

Under the Education Act 1996 and the Children and Families Act 2014, councils are obligated to provide suitable education for children with special needs. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that the council had not met these requirements.

Ombudsman’s Findings

The Ombudsman concluded that the council was at fault for not consulting schools widely enough, leading to delays in finding a suitable placement for Child X. The council also failed to communicate effectively with Mrs. F and did not provide adequate alternative educational provision for Child X.

Recommended Actions

The Ombudsman has recommended that the council:

• Issue a written apology to Mrs. F and pay her £500 for the distress caused.

• Pay an additional £7,200 to Mrs. F to acknowledge the loss of education experienced by Child X from July 2021 to July 2023.

• Implement service improvements, including recruiting additional staff and refining its EHC plan system.

Ombudsman’s report here

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