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Hampshire County Council (19 010 890)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 24 Mar 2021

Summary: Mrs Y complained the Council delayed issuing an amended Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) for her son, Z, and failed to provide him with suitable education while it found a new placement.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

The Council has agreed:

  •  pay Mrs Y:
    • £100 to acknowledge the opportunity she lost to appeal the Council’s decision of 14 May 2019 to keep Z’s EHC Plan in place;
    • £200 to acknowledge the opportunity she lost to appeal the provision made for Z in an amended EHC Plan from July 2019 to May 2020 and to reflect her time and trouble caused by this delay;
    • £200 for each school month of inadequate SEN provision for Z from April 2019 to July 2019 (three school months), making a total of £600, to be used for the benefit of Z’s education;
    • £550 for each school month of education Z missed from September 2019 to the start of January 2020 (three school months), making a total of £1,650 to be used for the benefit of Z’s education; and
    • £750 to acknowledge her time and trouble in trying to get the Council to fulfil its statutory responsibilities and the distress and uncertainty caused to her and Z by its failure to do so.
  • It has also agreed to apologise to Mrs Y for its failings in the completion of the annual review process and amendment of Z’s EHC Plan, and provision of a suitable education for him.

The Council should reflect on the service improvements it agreed to make further to our decisions in June and October 2020 on three other complaints about its provision of SEN services, in particular delays with annual reviews and amendment of EHC Plans.

And, within three months of the date of this report, provide us with:

  • confirmation of the steps it has taken to remind officers the statutory guidance allows parents to give their views and make representations about a draft amended plan. And where a parent suggests changes the council agrees, it should amend the draft and issue the final EHC plan as quickly as possible and within the statutory deadlines;
  • an update of the number of any outstanding EHC assessments, annual reviews and draft amended plans and the timetable for finalising this work;
  • confirmation the Director of Children’s Services and the Lead Member for Children’s Services have reviewed whether the resourcing of the SEN team is now sufficient to  allow it to carry out its current workload within the statutory timescales; and
  • confirmation the Director of Children’s Services and the Lead Member for Children’s Services have reviewed the details of the SEN Recovery plan.

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 8 July 2021.

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