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London Borough of Lambeth (20 009 607)

Category : Education > Alternative provision

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr B’s complaint that the Council is at fault in failing to secure educational provision for his daughter. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mr B, complains that the Council is at fault in failing to secure educational provision for his daughter.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely we would find fault. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mr B has said in support of his complaint and the evidence he has provided. I have considered the relevant law and statutory guidance. I have offered Mr B the opportunity to comment on a draft of my decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr B’s daughter has been permanently excluded from school. Mr B complains that the Council has failed to meet its obligation to make alternative educational provision for her.
  2. In response to Mr B’s complaint, the Council has asked Mr B to refer his daughter to its NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) Team. It says the responsibility to deliver education to excluded children only relates to children of compulsory school age, which ceases at the end of Year 11. Mr B’s daughter was excluded from a sixth form setting and is now 17. Therefore, the responsibility to provide appropriate education from the sixth day following exclusion does not apply.
  3. Mr B disagrees. He argues that compulsory school age continues until 18, and that the Council therefore has the duty to find his daughter another school.
  4.  
  5. We will not investigate Mr B’s complaint because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part. The interpretation of the law the Council has set out is correct. The specific duties owed by councils to children excluded from school cease at the end of Year 11.
  6. Councils have separate duties to NEET children, such as Mr B’s daughter, until they are 18. But this does not have to mean identifying or providing educational provision. The Council has acted reasonably in referring Mr B to its NEET Team and we can identify no fault in its actions. We will not therefore investigate Mr B’s complaint. If Mr B disagrees with the Council’s interpretation of the law, he may wish to take legal advice.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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