A parent’s child with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), was unlawfully excluded from school between September 2016 to January 2017. The family rightly escalated their complaint to the Ombudsman. During the period specified, she said that;
no alternative provision was made by the Council;
the Council did not take adequate action to secure the provision of his EHCP; and,
the Council’s complaint response was delayed and flawed.
What were the findings?
The council should have made suitable arrangements either at school or elsewhere. This did not happen one the Council were aware that that education was not being received. The child should have also have received the provision set out in the EHCP where it was possible to do so.
The Council could have identified another school, conducted an emergency review and changed the school named in N’s EHCP. It could also have decided to send N to a short stay school, provided him with online teaching (with support) or provided a home tutor. There is no evidence the Council considered alternatives.
The impact of lack of education was that the child was no longer working at his target grades and seemed isolated from his peers. As a result, the child had to drop subjects he liked in favour of studying the core subjects. His mother said that his confidence deteriorated and mental health deteriorated too as he had to adapt to being back in a school environment.
The Council’s failure to make alternative provision when he was out of school was deemed their fault. The Council was order to make a payment to him of £2,000 for this loss of service, given the importance of the academic year in which it fell (preparing for end of year exams).
During this time, the mother was also put to a great deal of time, trouble and distress chasing up provision. The council were ordered to pay £300 to the mother.
For delays in responding to complaints The Council were asked to apologise and award £200.
This is not unusual
This child seems to have fallen in to the failings that have been specifically detected by Ofsted after their investigations.
To quote a recent BBC article on the report - “there are 2,060 children in 2018 who have education, health and care plans (EHCs) setting out their needs, but who receive no support at all.”
Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, also raised the issue of children disappearing from education, saying "Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need."
This is something that here at Bright Futures we are all too aware of. The failings of the system have been very apparent for far too long, and while the Ofsted report and this case makes for unpleasant reading (and perhaps in some cases, perhaps not quite enough to make up for the failings), it’s definitely a step in the right direction that these issues are finally being highlighted - and hopefully now action can be taken to try and rectify these problems and help children and families receive the support they need and deserve - let’s continue to raise awareness.
If you need support with anything to do with your EHCP, please contact us below: