The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr B complains about the Council’s investigation into safeguarding concerns about a school. The Ombudsman has discontinued his investigation as it is outside of his jurisdiction and is out of time.
- Mr B is a foster carer. He says the Council has not properly investigated safeguarding concerns he raised with Ofsted about the school that the foster children attended.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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)
- We cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)
- The courts have said that we cannot investigate a complaint about any action by a council, concerning a matter which itself is outside jurisdiction (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration in England  EWHC 2847 (Admin))
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I have considered the documents Mr B and the Council have sent, the relevant law and guidance and both sides’ comments on the draft decision.
What I found
- On 31 March 2017 Mr B complained to Ofsted about the school. The complaint raised several issues. Some of the issues were safeguarding concerns relating to the school’s actions and its discipline of the children. The safeguarding concerns related mostly to events from 2015 and 2016.
- Ofsted referred the safeguarding concerns to the Council. The Council responded to Ofsted on 20 April 2017 and Ofsted closed the case.
- On 2 May 2018, Mr B complained to the Council about the way it handled the matter. He said the Council had not properly investigated the safeguarding concerns about the school. This new complaint went through the Council’s two stage complaints procedure and the Council provided its final response on 20 September 2018. It did not uphold Mr B’s complaint.
- I have not investigated this complaint as it relates to the Council’s response to safeguarding allegations about the school. The actions of the school are outside of the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. I cannot investigate the Council’s response without considering the school’s actions.
- In addition, most of the safeguarding concerns Mr B raises relate to events dating back to 2015 and 2016. I would not, in any event, investigate these complaints as they relate to events from more than a year ago. Mr B could have made a complaint about these matters at the time and any investigation now would be difficult because of the historical nature of the complaint.
- I have discontinued the investigation.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman