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London Borough of Bromley (22 002 406)

Category : Education > Special educational needs

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 13 Jun 2022

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council failed to communicate the details of a meeting to discuss the needs of her daughter, and about the school placement the Council named on her Education Health and Care plan. This is because further investigation into the meeting arrangements would not lead to a different outcome and the naming of the school placement carries a right of appeal to a tribunal, and it would be reasonable to expect the complainant to use that appeal right.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will call Miss X, complains that she took a day off to attend a meeting to discuss the annual review of her daughters Education Health and Care (EHC) plan, but the meeting did not go ahead. She also complains about the school placement the Council named on her daughter’s final EHC plan. She says the Council’s actions has caused her distress and wants a different school named on the EHC plan.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Ombudsman investigates complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start or may decide not to continue with an investigation if we decide further investigation would not lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6))
  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. The Council had to reschedule a meeting to discuss the annual review of Mrs X’s daughters EHC plan. The Council emailed Mrs X suggesting a new date and asking her to confirm her availability. Mrs X says she emailed the Council back to say she could only attend the meeting for 30 minutes, but the Council says it did not receive the email. Mrs X assumed the meeting was due to take place on the suggested date so booked the day off work. The meeting was held later and a final EHC plan was subsequently issued, naming a school placement. Mrs X disagrees that the placement named is appropriate to meet her daughter’s needs.
  2. I will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about how the Council managed the annual review meeting. Mrs X says she sent the Council an email about her attendance, but the Council say it did not receive it. It is unlikely that any further investigation would be able to say with any certainty why the Council did or did not receive the email, and therefore it is unlikely that any further investigation would lead to a different outcome.
  3. I will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about how the Council carried out its assessment of her daughter’s needs or that it named an inappropriate school in its EHC plan. This is because the contents of the EHC plan carry a right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal. It would be reasonable expect Mrs X to use that right of appeal because only the SEND Tribunal can direct a Council to make changes to an EHC plan.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint because further investigation would not lead to a different outcome and because it is reasonable to expect her to appeal the contents of the EHC plan, including the named school, to the SEND Tribunal.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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