Cheshire West & Chester Council (17 018 440)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 13 Apr 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate Mrs M’s complaint about special education needs provision for her child. A Court decided which school B should attend and when, and a Tribunal is considering the wording of B’s Education Health and Care Plan.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs M, disagrees with the Council’s decisions on her child, B’s, education provision.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The law says we cannot normally investigate a complaint when someone can appeal to a tribunal. However, we may decide to investigate if we consider it would be unreasonable to expect the person to appeal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)
  3. SEND is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal (‘SEND’))

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs M provided with her complaint which included the Council’s replies to her. Mrs M had an opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs M has a child, B, now aged 11, with special education needs. At primary school B was in the year below his normal age group. The Council’s policy is for all children to move to senior school at the normal age even if they have spent their primary school time in a different age group.
  2. Mrs M says the Council failed to tell her B would have to move schools with his normal age group until the year of his move.
  3. Mrs M also complains about the extra provision B’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) sets out. She says the Council has not sought the appropriate professional advice before finalising the EHCP.
  4. In July 2017, a Court decided which school B should attend from September 2017 because Mrs M and B’s father disagreed on the school. They asked the Court to decide.
  5. Mrs M says she has appealed the EHCP wording to SEND.

Analysis

  1. We cannot consider the decision on which school B should attend as a Court decided this. It also decided that B should attend the senior school from September 2017 which is when B’s age group would start senior school.
  2. We cannot consider the EHCP content as a Tribunal is considering this. The Tribunal’s consideration will cover whether the professional opinion supports the EHCP wording.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because a Court decided where and when B should attend senior school and a Tribunal is considering the EHCP content.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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