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Durham County Council (20 011 960)

Category : Education > Alternative provision

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 17 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Miss B’s complaint that the Council has offered her daughter a school which is not appropriate for her needs. 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 Miss B, complains that the school the Council has offered for her daughter is not appropriate for her needs.

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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 Miss B has said in support of her complaint and relevant documents provided by the Council. I have offered Miss B the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Miss B’s daughter has been permanently excluded from school. The Council has offered her a place at another school. Miss B believes this school is not appropriate for her daughter and has declined the place.
  2. Miss B has asked the Council to provide a place a different school. She complains that it has not done so.
  3. We will not investigate Miss B’s complaint because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part. When a child is permanently excluded from school the Council must offer alternative provision. It has done so, in offering a place at another school. There is no evidence of fault on the Council’s part.
  4. We cannot comment on whether the school the Council has offered is appropriate. It is Miss B’s right to decline it, as she has done. But that means she becomes responsible for making other arrangements.
  5. It is open to Miss B to apply for places at other schools. If her applications are refused, she will have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel and the Ombudsman would expect her to do so. We will not intervene.

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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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