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Worcestershire County Council (21 017 700)

Category : Education > School exclusions

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 24 Mar 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the permanent exclusion from school of Miss X’s child. We cannot investigate the actions of a school. Miss X was offered a right of appeal to an independent review panel organised by the Council. There is not enough evidence of fault by the Council to warrant investigation.

The complaint

  1. Miss X said her child was wrongly permanently excluded from school.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)
  2. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide there is not enough evidence of fault to justify investigating. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. We cannot investigate school governors’ decisions to permanently exclude children. But we can investigate the process followed by independent review panels (IRPs) provided by councils to consider appeals against those decisions.
  2. In this case, letters provided by the Council show her child’s school told her of her right to appeal to an IRP and how to do so. The Council confirmed Miss X has not asked for an IRP and the time limit for requesting a panel has passed. This is not evidence of fault by the Council.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint because there is not enough evidence of fault by the Council to justify this. We cannot consider the school governors’ original decision to exclude as we have no jurisdiction to consider school matters.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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