Essex County Council (19 000 593)

Category : Education > Other

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 15 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the Council’s actions concerning a primary school becoming an academy, because we cannot investigate complaints about actions concerning schools.

The complaint

  1. Ms J complains about the Council’s actions concerning a primary school becoming an academy. She is particularly concerned that a senior officer had a connection with the academy trust.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate. We cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)
  2. 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 [2006] EHWCC 2847 (Admin))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered the information Ms J sent with her complaint and discussed her complaint with her.

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What I found

  1. Ms J is clear she is not complaining about the fact that the primary school is becoming an academy. Her complaint is about how council officers have acted in respect of this. But the law is clear we cannot investigate any action concerning:
    • The giving of instruction, whether secular or religious; or
    • Conduct, curriculum, internal organisation, management or discipline, in any school or other educational establishment maintained by the authority except so far as relating to special educational needs, whether in any school or other educational establishment maintained by the authority.
  2. The process of conversion to an academy is covered by ‘management’ here. So we cannot investigate Ms J’s complaint.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because the law does not allow us to investigate complaints about actions concerning schools.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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