Nottinghamshire County Council (16 016 308)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 23 Aug 2017

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr & Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s recent decisions on their son’s education. This includes any failure to carry out the decision of an earlier Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Mr & Mrs X have appealed again to the Tribunal and there is not enough reason for the Ombudsman to investigate.

The complaint

  1. Mr & Mrs X complain the Council has decided to stop maintaining an education and health care plan for their adult son Y. They say the Council does not want to pay for a college placement which Y has attended.
  2. Mr & Mrs X complain the Council failed to write into the current plan, or failed to implement, a transitional plan for Y leaving college. They say the Council is in breach of its duty to secure this provision and should implement the decisions made by the last Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal or a government minister or started court action about the matter. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6), as amended)
  3. SEND is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal (‘SEND’))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Mrs X’s information, comments and response to my draft decision. I discussed the complaint with Mrs X by telephone.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X says that Y has gone to college this year three days a week. Since June he has started to go to a day centre twice a week having chosen the place in April. Mrs X tells me she would have been happy if this arrangement continued.
  2. In June the Council reviewed Y’s education health care plan (EHCP). It decided that it would no longer maintain an EHCP and that it would stop funding the college place from the end of the summer term. Mrs X says the Council will not discuss future education or training and wants her son to receive only social care from September.
  3. The Council has told Mr & Mrs X they can appeal to the SEND Tribunal against the decision to end the EHCP and college place. The Council has refused to deal with Mrs X’s complaint because there is a right of appeal.
  4. Mrs X tells me they have previously appealed to the SEND Tribunal. She says the Council failed in its duty to secure the provision which the Tribunal ordered in December 2016 regarding the transitional plan. She wants the Council to implement that Tribunal’s decisions. I understand Mrs X wants the Council to agree that Y continues with some education or training.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. The main dispute is about the decision to stop the EHCP and a place at college. That complaint is outside the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman because Mr & Mrs X are using their right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal (see paragraphs 4 and 5).
      2. The Ombudsman cannot provide the remedy sought which is that the Council implements the earlier SEND Tribunal’s decision or Y stays in education or the Council now implements a transition plan. The earlier Tribunal decision has been superseded by the Council’s decision to stop the EHCP. That is the basis for Mr & Mrs X’s new appeal to the Tribunal which will decide whether the Council should do more.
      3. Mrs X says she had to find and arrange the day care placement which Y transitioned to. Although I appreciate this involved some effort, there is insufficient injustice to require an investigation.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr & Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s recent decisions on their son’s education. This includes any failure to carry out the decision of an earlier Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Mr & Mrs X have appealed again to the Tribunal and there is not enough reason for the Ombudsman to investigate.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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