Suffolk County Council (17 009 618)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 18 Jan 2019

Summary: Ms M complained the Council delayed in providing her daughter with suitable full-time education and it was unaware of what provision was available in its area and surrounding areas.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

To remedy the injustice caused, the Council has agreed to:

  • apologise to Ms M and Ms D for the delay in failing to arrange full-time education between September 2016 - January 2017 and acknowledge the impact this had on Ms D, Ms M and their family;
  • pay Ms D £1,200 for the loss of one term of education;
  • pay Ms D £1,000 for the 14 months of uncertainty she was faced with while the Council was trying to find a suitable placement and the distress caused;
  • pay the family £1,000 for the 14 months of uncertainty;
  • pay Ms M £1,000 for the disruption to her working arrangements caused by Ms D’s unplanned return from residential school; and
  • pay Ms M a total of £500 for the time and trouble she has spent on pursuing her complaint.

The Council will also:

  • review the young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans whose placements were moved from out-of-county to in-county before their Plans were issued (from 1 January 2015). The review should:
    • ensure that any changes in provision were based on a proper consideration of the needs of the young person and not on resource pressures; and
    • ensure the changes in planned provision were managed in line with the statutory requirements and guidance. Where the Council finds shortcomings in its approach, it should contact any families that have been adversely affected to discuss how it can remedy any injustice caused.
  • review its policies and procedures to ensure EHC Plans are completed within the statutory time limits, needs are identified, provision is met and ensure decisions are based on the assessed needs of each young person;
  • take relevant action to ensure it is aware of the provision available in its area and surrounding areas. The Council should revise its Local Offer accordingly to ensure it properly reflects the provision available in the local area and outside of the area; and
  • take relevant action to ensure transition planning work has begun when a young person with an EHC Plan is in Year 9.

Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 26 April 2019.

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