Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 25 Apr 2018
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint that the Council did not inform the complainant of the deadline for school admission applications. This is because if she is refused a place at one of her preferred schools she can appeal the decision to an Independent Appeal Panel which can consider whether the Council applied its admissions arrangements fairly.
- The complainant, who I refer to here as Ms C, says that:
- The Council did not notify her of the closing date for school admission applications;
- The Council has refused to accept her late application as being on time; and
- The Council’s complaints process is protracted and unhelpful.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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 there is another body better placed to consider this complaint. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information provided by Ms C and I have sent her a draft decision for her comments.
What I found
- Ms C has a daughter who is due to start school in September of this year. She says that she was unaware of the deadline for school admission applications for reception class places, and as a result, her application has been made late.
- Ms C says that the Council should have notified her of the date, and she complained to it. The Council has investigated her complaint, but has not upheld it. It has provided her with evidence to show that it has complied with its own and national policies on making information available, and explained that it does not have a data base of children approaching school age. Additionally it says that in law, it is the parent’s responsibility to pro-actively find out about school admission application deadlines.
- Ms C is dissatisfied with the response, and has complained to the Ombudsman. We will not investigate the complaint however. This is because the extent of any injustice arising from the alleged faults is not yet known.
- If, as a result of her application being considered late, Ms C is not allocated one of her preferred schools for her daughter, she can appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel (IAP). The IAP will be able to consider her case that the admission arrangements were not fairly administered in her case.
- If the IAP does not uphold the appeal, Ms C will have the right to come back to the LGSCO, if she thinks the appeal was not properly heard.
- Subject to any comments Ms C might make, my view is that the Ombudsman should not investigate this complaint. This is because she will have the right to appeal any injustice arising from the alleged fault, to an IAP.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman