London Borough of Southwark (18 018 683)

Category : Education > Alternative provision

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 14 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council failing to provide education to her son who has special educational needs. Ms X has appealed the current position to the SEND Tribunal. The Council says it will deal with a complaint about failure to provide education once the appeal is concluded.

The complaint

  1. Ms X complains the Council has failed to provide her son, Y, with full time education since the summer of 2017. Ms X says the Council cannot find a specialist placement for her son and has provided alternative provision for only a brief period.

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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. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  3. SEND is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (‘SEND’))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered Ms X’s information and clarified the position with the Council.

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What I found

  1. In October 2018 the Council sent Ms X its final educational health care (EHC) plan for her son. Ms X has appealed to the SEND Tribunal about the named educational placement.
  2. The Council says it has not dealt with a complaint about a failure to provide education. It says it will acknowledge the complaint and deal with it, via its complaint procedure, once the Tribunal is concluded.

Analysis

  1. I will not investigate this complaint for the following reasons:
      1. The Council should deal with the complaint about failure to provide education to Y since 2017. I consider it reasonable for the Council to suspend dealing with the complaint until the SEND Tribunal appeal is concluded. Y has complex needs and the appeal is considering the dispute about what educational placement can meet them. Its decision may assist consideration of the Council’s earlier actions. Once the Council has dealt with the complaint Ms X may return to this office.
      2. The Tribunal appeal, including any lack of provision during the period of the appeal, is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and cannot be investigated (see paragraph 3 above).

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council failing to provide education to her son who has special educational needs. Ms X has appealed the current position to the SEND Tribunal. The Council says it will deal with a complaint about failure to provide education once the appeal is concluded.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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