Essex County Council (17 003 755)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Apr 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mr and Mrs P’s complaint about the Council’s failure to provide speech and language therapy to their child. The Council has already provided extra sessions and it is unlikely our investigation could achieve more.

The complaint

  1. The complainants, whom I shall call Mr and Mrs P, say the Council failed to ensure their child, B, got speech and language therapy as set out in an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
  2. 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:
    • it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
    • it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr and Mrs P provided with their complaint and since, and the Council’s replies which it provided, together with an updated position from the Council. Mr and Mrs P commented on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr and Mrs P’s child B has special education needs. B has an EHCP which sets out the extra support B needs and includes six hours a term of speech and language therapy. Mr and Mrs P says B did not get the speech and language therapy set out in the EHCP in the summer and autumn terms 2017.
  2. The Council offered extra sessions during the summer holidays to cover for the missed summer term sessions. B could not take these up because of family holiday commitments.
  3. The Council provided information showing the extra sessions arranged to cover those missed in the Autumn term. This includes increasing the sessions to 12 during the January to March 2018 term.

Analysis

  1. The Council has already provided the likely remedy we would seek if we were to investigate. In addition, the Council has changed its supplier arrangements so that gaps in provision due to maternity leave or sick leave, will be covered in the future. This means it has taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely our investigation could achieve a significantly different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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