Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 20 Jul 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We cannot investigate Mr X’s complaint about the accuracy of the Council’s risk assessment guidance to schools. We cannot investigate the internal management of schools.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the Council provided schools with inaccurate information about COVID-19.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 is itself out of our jurisdiction. (R (on the application of M) v Commissioner for Local Administration  EHWCC 2847 (Admin))
How I considered this complaint
- I considered information provided by Mr X.
- I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
- I considered Mr X’s comments on a draft decision of this decision.
- Mr X says the Council provided its local primary schools with inaccurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic. He supported his claims with scientific evidence. Mr X says the Council advised the schools to use what he sees as inaccurate information in the schools’ risk assessments. He says the Council’s claims are not factual or balanced.
- He says this led to schools putting in place restrictions that have had significant detrimental impacts on their staff and pupils. He says while many of these restrictions might have been proportionate or necessary, it is highly likely that many schools have gone too far, due to the false statements in the guidance template. He says the statements will have led to unnecessary fear among the school communities, leading to further mental and physical health challenges in the community as a whole. He says at the two primary schools his children attend, it has led to an overuse of face coverings and an overall increased sense of fear.
- Mr X says in response to his complaint the Council made some changes but also made more further errors.
- We have no power to investigate the internal management of a school. We also have no power to investigate how the Council contributes towards this, which includes the content of any guidance given to the schools about how they should manage the school.
- We cannot investigate this complaint. This is because we cannot investigate how a school is managed.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman