£1,400 payout from Peterborough council to family of child with special educational needs

A payout of £1,400 has been agreed by Peterborough City Council to the family of a child with special educational needs.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:55 am

The authority will issue a formal apology due to the 12 month period it took to move the young person from a school where there had been a “number of incidents” to another setting.

It has also agreed to improve its processes after being criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman.

This is the third time in recent months the council has been reprimanded and paid out compensation of more than £1,000 following a ruling by the LGO.

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The latest example, where the identity of the young person (including their age and the school they were attending) has not been revealed, relates back to July 2019 where he had an annual review of his Education, Health and Care Plan.

EHCPs identify educational, health and social needs for children and young people with special educational needs and set out the additional support they require.

According to a report released by the council, the review agreed that amendments should be made to the plan.

It added: “In December 2019, following a number of incidents at school, it was agreed an alternative placement was required and the school agreed to maintain the pupil on roll and provide suitable work for him to complete during the transition period.

“In February 2020, the parents raised a complaint about the lack of placement for the young person, but there was no record of any response to this complaint. The LA (local authority) issued a final EHCP in March 2020, just as the UK was entering the first lockdown due to Covid, and this resulted in the young person not being placed on roll at an appropriate school.

“The LA undertook a search of an appropriate school between July and September 2020 and a placement was secured and the young person started at a school provision from December 2020.

“The parent was unhappy with the delay in securing this placement and complained to the ombudsman.”

The LGO cannot compel the council do what it suggests, but if the authority was to disagree with the suggested remedy the LGO could write a formal report which would be made public.

In this case, it “recommended that within one month the LA should write to the family and apologise for the uncertainty, frustration and trouble it had caused when delaying the completion of the annual review process, consulting with schools and for not responding to their complaint”.

It has also recommended compensation of £350 to the parents, as well as a payment of £1,050 which they can “spend on the young person, in any way the family sees fit, to remedy the injustice the LA’s faults caused them”.

The council has also agreed within three months to:

• Review its processes to ensure it is carrying out annual reviews, issuing decision notices and finalising amended Education, Health and Care Plans in line with the statutory guidelines

• Review its processes to ensure it responds to complaints it receives in a timely manner

• Remind staff of the importance of good record keeping, particularly when holding meetings with schools when the welfare and educational provision of young people is discussed.