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Reading Borough Council (22 002 832)

Category : Children's care services > Child protection

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 13 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s school admissions team’s actions. We cannot investigate a school’s actions and we are unlikely to find fault in the Council’s actions.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the Council failed to keep him informed of his child’s schooling, has removed the child’s school place and favoured the child’s mother.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)
  2. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or continue an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mr X and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. Mr X says the Council failed to tell him his child, B, was out of school and that B’s school’s place had been removed. He says the Council should not have used B’s mother’s address in considering applications for a school place. He says it should not have changed B’s address on their records.
  2. The Council says, B was out of school for more than 20 plus one school days and the school B attended was entitled to off roll B. It says the Council can accept a school place application from the parent with whom the child is living. It says it has a solicitor’s letter confirming B is living with the mother. Mr X says he had not seen B since early February 2022 which confirms B is not living with him.
  3. We cannot investigate the school’s actions, including the information it did or did not provide Mr X.
  4. The Council’s role in these event is very limited. Its admissions team is entitled to accept an application from one parent. It is unlikely we would find fault in the Council’s actions.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint because we cannot investigate the school’s actions and we are unlikely to find fault in the Council’s actions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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