London Borough of Croydon failed to provide education for two children for more than six months, finds Local Government Ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin.
In her report, issued today, she says “the Council did not allocate places for either child for more than six months after the complainant made her in-year application. While there were reasons this was not possible, the Council should have offered alternative educational provision. It did not do so.”
A woman moved to the Council’s area and made an in-year application for school places for her child and for her sister (for whom she has parental responsibility).
The London boroughs’ agreed policy is to allocate school places within 20 school days. However, the Council made no educational provision for either child for more than six months.
The Council’s failure denied both children education at a time when they were in Year 10 and should have been studying for GCSE qualifications. This created unnecessary anxiety for the family. The need to catch up six months of missed work required for public examinations also created additional pressures on both children after they returned to education.
The Ombudsman finds maladministration causing injustice and the Council has offered to:
- apologise to the complainant and both children, and
- pay the family £6,500 for the loss of education and for the complainant’s time and trouble in pursuing her complaint.
The Ombudsman considers these are appropriate elements of remedy for the injustice caused.
The Council has also:
- reviewed its procedures to speed up the allocation process and to ensure cases are passed to fair access panels where it cannot allocate a school place within 20 school days, and
- agreed to amend its procedures to ensure it meets its legal duty to offer alternative educational provision once the 20-school-day period for allocating places in the agreed London boroughs’ policy has been reached.
Report ref 12 000 717
Article date: 22 November 2012