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MISSED EDUCATION: Council ordered to pay £3,000 to boy and his mother

MISSED EDUCATION: Council ordered to pay £3,000 to boy and his mother

The council’s failings led to the boy not receiving appropriate education between September 2020 and January 2021

Bury council has been ordered to pay £3,000 in compensation to a boy and his mother after failing to provide him with education for four months.

A local government ombudsman conducted an investigation after complaints from the mother of a boy with special educational needs about alleged failings in implementing and education plan for her son transferring from school to college at the age of 16.

In March 2020, when the boy was in Year 11, the council issued his final Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

The plan identified the provision he required, including face to face support particularly at the beginning and end of each day.

The plan named a college as his post-16 provider from September 2020.

In April 2020, his mother contacted the council and raised concerns about her son’s ability to cope with the transition to the specified college.

In September, the boy did not attend college as he and hs mother continued to have doubts about its suitability and he was, therefore, not in education.

The ombudsman found that the council’s failings led to the boy not receiving appropriate education between September 2020 and January 2021 and that after that it had not provided the boy with an education in line with the provision set out in his EHC plan after January 2021.

The ombudman’s report, said: “The mother made numerous contacts with the council in order to resolve the matters.

“The council’s response was insufficient and sporadic and it failed to respond to her ongoing concerns.

“The council’s poor communication was fault and caused her unnecessary time and trouble.”

Following the decision Bury Council wrote to the boy to apologise for the delay in finalising his EHC plan and its poor communication and recognise the impact of the lost educational and social opportunities on his mental health and emotional wellbeing.

They have paid him £2,700 to recognise the education and social opportunities he did not receive for the 15 school weeks between September 2020 and January 2021 and the 25 school weeks he did not receive the provision specified in his EHC plan from January to August 2021.

The council have also paid £300 to his mother to recognise the distress and time and trouble caused to her by the delay and poor communication.

The case is the third time the local government ombudsman has highlighted failings with Bury Council’s special education provision in recent months.

In July, a similar case was reported by the Local Democracy News Service, where Bury Council was ordered to pay £3,000 to a vulnerable boy’s family after a damning ombudman’s report found it failed to provide him with education for 10 months.

In that case the ombudsman said the council had ‘not shown any consideration of the boy’s individual circumstances’ and caused him to miss almost year of schooling.

Another case in the summer saw an ombudsman investigation find that the council ’caused distress’ and cost a family ‘time and trouble’ when it issued an incomplete education plan for a boy.

As a result the council paid £750 in compensation and also apologised for ‘systemic poor communication’.

Referring to the most recent case, a spokesperson for Bury Council, said: “We fully accept that there were a number of failures in our processes in this case, and have learned from those.

“We have implemented all of the ombudsman’s recommendations, including making the compensation payment outlined.

“We have sent a formal letter of apology, along with a draft amended plan following annual review.

“The council is fully committed to working with parents and our partners to improve Bury’s SEND provision and ensure that children and their families have their needs identified and met earlier.”


Words: Chris Gee, Local Democracy Reporter

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