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Gloucestershire County Council (21 017 443)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 08 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council not providing financial support for Mrs X’s child’s in attending the school it later named on his Education Health and Care Plan. The complaint is late and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate it now.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X said she is unhappy with the financial support given by the Council regarding her child’s Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan. She said she chose the school that best met her child’s needs, and she paid the fees for two years. She said the Council then named the school on her child’s EHC Plan and paid the fees.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)

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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. Mrs X was aware in 2019 that the Council had named the school she had chosen two years earlier on her child’s EHC Plan, taking responsibility for the fees. That was over two and a half years before she complained to us. Mrs X said she was pre-occupied with her child and cited the Covid-19 pandemic. However, advice was widely available from organisations specialising in SEN matters in the 2017-19 period. The Council also issued the EHC Plan more than eight months before the Covid-19 pandemic’s onset. We only closed for three months during the first Covid-19 lockdown, and it would only have taken one phone call or visit to our website in 2019-20 to make a complaint.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because it is late and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate it now.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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