West Berkshire Council (17 006 613)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 30 Aug 2017

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint about the implementation of an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) for the complainant’s daughter. This is because he cannot consider the actions of schools or the actions of the Council in relation to an Academy.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I refer to here as Mr D, says that his daughter’s school has delayed putting an EHCP into place for his daughter, and is now implementing it badly; and
  2. The Council is not enforcing the school to implement the EHCP properly.

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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.
  2. We cannot investigate complaints about what happens in schools. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5, paragraph 5(b), as amended)

We cannot investigate a complaint where the body complained about is not responsible for the issue being raised. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(1), as amended)

  1. We investigate complaints about councils and certain other bodies. We cannot investigate the actions of bodies such as Academies. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 25 and 34A, as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr D and I sent him an initial view for his comments.

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What I found

  1. Mr D’s daughter attends an ASD unit within a mainstream school. She has an EHCP, but Mr D says that the School delayed in putting it into place, with the result that his daughter is struggling to adapt to the changes.
  2. Mr D says that the Council has been aware of the delay, but has not taken action to enforce the provisions of the EHCP.
  3. The Ombudsman is unable to investigate the complaint about the School’s actions because complaints about the management of schools are outside our jurisdiction. Additionally, we cannot look at any actions of this School because it is an academy.
  4. Academies are bodies whose actions are out of our jurisdiction. Complaints about them have to be made to the school governors, and if still unresolved, to the Education Funding Agency.
  5. Although we can usually consider some aspects of complaints against councils regarding their monitoring of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision within schools, we are unable to do so in this case because the School is an academy.
  6. In addition, some of the enforcement actions that Mr C complains the Council has not undertaken, are not investigable by the Ombudsman because they are not administrative functions of the Council. This is because Councils have very limited responsibilities for academies.

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Final decision

  1. I cannot investigate this complaint as it relates to a School which is an academy. The actions of the School and the Council are therefore out of our jurisdiction.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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