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Suffolk County Council (22 001 962)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 09 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint the Council did not complete an Occupational Therapy sensory assessment as part of its assessment for her sons’ Education Health and Care Plans. That is because Mrs X has the right of appeal to Tribunal. We can’t decide whether any delay in the Council finalising the Education Health and Care plan has caused an injustice until the Tribunal has reached a conclusion.

The complaint

  1. Mrs X complained about the Council’s decision not to complete an Occupational Therapy (OT) sensory assessment for her two sons as part for their Education Health and Care needs assessment. She also complained about delays in the Council issuing the final Education Health and Care plans and its poor communication with her. Mrs X wants the Council to complete the sensory assessment.

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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. Mrs X has two sons, Y and Z. They both have EHC plans. The Council issued final EHC plans for both Y and Z at the start of May 2022.
  2. Mrs X was unhappy the Council did not complete an Occupational Therapy sensory assessment for either son as part of their EHC needs assessment despite asking it to. She said that meant the Plans did not meet their needs.
  3. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint further. That is because Mrs X’s complaint about the lack of OT assessment is directly linked to the subsequent provision specified within in the EHC plans. The SEND Tribunal considers appeals about the content of EHC plans therefore is best placed to consider Mrs X’s request for an OT sensory assessment.
  4. Mrs X is also unhappy about delays in the Council completing the EHC needs assessment and its communication with her. Mrs X can return to the Ombudsman once the SEND Tribunal process is complete. We can then consider what injustice if any the Council’s delays have caused.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because she has the right to appeal to Tribunal.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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