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Wokingham Borough Council (21 017 929)

Category : Education > School transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 06 Apr 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about school transport for Mrs X’s child. There is not enough evidence of fault by the Council to warrant investigation.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X said the Council discriminated against her child and breached the child’s human rights in not upholding her appeals for a school and transport.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. 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. The evidence I have seen suggests this complaint concerns a school transport appeal hearing only.
  2. Mrs X did not apply for a place for her child at the nearest school with places. Therefore, the Council had no duty to offer school transport to the school allocated.
  3. Where there is no transport duty, a Council must still consider whether to offer discretionary transport to the school attended. In this case, the Council offered a discretionary bus pass to the allocated school. Mrs X appealed.
  4. I have seen the notes of the transport appeal. These show the case that Mrs X put forward. This case centred round her child’s inability to walk the distances at either end of the bus journey. The notes of the transport appeal show the panel found the medical evidence was inconclusive, and that it offered Mrs X the opportunity to provide further evidence. The notes also show the panel considered what Mrs X said and provided as evidence. Where a panel does so, there is no fault, and it is not for the Ombudsman to substitute an alternative view.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about school transport because there is not enough evidence of fault to warrant investigation.
  2. If Mrs X wishes to complain about a school admission matter, she would need to first appeal against the refusal of a school place, and if the admission appeal was unsuccessful, she could then complain to us about any fault in the appeal hearing. She would need to do so within 12 months of the date of the school admission appeal hearing. We do not have jurisdiction to consider complaints about admission appeals involving some types of schools, including academies, so it might not be possible for us to consider the complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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