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West Sussex County Council (20 012 859)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Aug 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about non-compliance with the order of a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Another Tribunal has since taken place and only such a Tribunal can consider the matter.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X said the Council failed comply with the March 2020 order of a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal to fully assess her child’s special educational needs (SEN). She said the Council failed to properly assess his needs.

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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. 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)
  3. The First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) considers appeals against council decisions regarding special educational needs. We refer to it as the SEND Tribunal in this decision statement.

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by the complainant and the Council.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.

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My assessment

  1. A SEND Tribunal ordered the Council to assess Mrs X’s child’s needs. It did so and decided he did not need an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan. She appealed again, but a further SEND Tribunal refused her appeal. The matter of whether the Council assessed properly and whose assessment it sought was for the second SEND Tribunal to consider. Even if it did not engage with that issue, we cannot decide what assessments should have taken place or what SEN provision or assessment a child requires. Only a further SEND Tribunal can do that.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because the matters complained of were and are ones for a SEND Tribunal.

Investigator’s decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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