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Suffolk County Council (19 014 782)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 11 Feb 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s delay in producing an Education Health and Care Plan. It is not possible to assess the extent of any injustice caused by this delay until the provision they should have been receiving is known. A Tribunal is currently deciding this.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, says the Council delayed in processing her child’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan), from November 2018 onwards.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. SEND is a tribunal that considers special educational needs. (The Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (‘SEND’))
  2. We cannot investigate a complaint if someone has appealed to a tribunal. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26(6)(a), as amended)
  3. 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. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  4. 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)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mrs X provided with her complaint. I considered Mrs X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs X says her child’s EHC Plan annual review was held in November 2018. She says the Council then delayed in amending the EHC Plan. She says it should have been published at the end of March 2019 but instead arrived in mid August. The Council accepts it delayed.
  2. Mrs X has appealed the EHC Plan to the Tribunal SEND. The EHC plan is set out in sections. We cannot direct changes to the sections about education, or name a different school. Only the tribunal can do this.
  3. We cannot assess the impact on the child and family of the delay between March and August until it is known what educational support the child should have received during that delay period. We will not know this until the Tribunal has finished. It is not right for us to investigate this complaint until then.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is not possible to assess the injustice to Mrs X and her family until a Tribunal ends.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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