Ombudsman welcomes report aimed at improving local authority SEND decisions

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) has welcomed a report looking to improve the quality of local authority decision making for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The report ,commissioned by the Administrative Justice Council, has researched practical solutions to address how nearly all (96%) of family appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal are upheld, amid a 200% increase in appeals over the last decade.

The Ombudsman, which was one of a number of contributors to the report, shared its own experiences of upholding some 90% of SEND investigations for children and young people – something which it recently revealed to be now its largest area of work.

Paul Najsarek, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“Local authorities have an opportunity to improve the outcomes for families of people with SEND, by investing properly in good complaint handling. But our experience shows many councils are missing this invaluable free feedback.

“Effective complaint handling can help resolve issues earlier in the process and avoid protracted disagreements, and unfortunately this is something we regularly see in the investigations we uphold.

“I welcome the report’s recommendations, which also suggest an increased focus on ensuring strong democratic oversight of complaints data, and a bigger role for council monitoring officers in overseeing how their authorities learn lessons from complaints.”

The report makes a number of recommendations, mainly aimed at local authorities, but also for a number of stakeholders in the sector including the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice, Ofsted, the Tribunal, and the LGSCO.

Article date: 08 August 2023

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