£2k compensation to Peterborough family after council failings over special educational needs provision

Compensation of more than £2,000 is being paid out by Peterborough City Council over failings in its support for a young person with special educational needs.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 5:55 am

The authority is set to pay £2,300, issue an apology and provide £4,000 of funding to benefit the pupil’s future education after being rapped by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Action was taken after the council failed to follow through with the pupil’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which, following a tribunal, stipulated that they should be placed at the parent’s choice of school and receive occupational therapy.

However, according to a newly published report occupational therapy was not provided, prompting a complaint from the parent to the council.

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The council said it delayed its response to the complaint as it was attempting to gain advice from the NHS over the provision of occupational therapy services, however, the report states that the complaint was escalated as there were “significant delays” in responding to it.

It added: “Some of the delays were due to the Covid-19 situation, but the needs of the pupil were not being met in line with the requirements of the EHCP and the LGO highlighted that the lack in communication left the family uncertain as to the whether the LA (local authority) had appropriately considered the family’s concerns.”

Issuing its judgement, which is non-binding, the ombudsman recommended compensation of £1,800 “to recognise the impact of the lost occupational therapy provision on the young person’s educational development,” as well as another £500 for “the frustration and distress caused by the LA’s poor complaint handling and the time and trouble it has taken to pursue (the family’s) complaint”.

It has also recommended that within one month the council should write to the family and apologise and provide £4,000 of funding towards the young person’s future education.

Following the case, the ombudsman and the council have also agreed that within three months the authority should:

• Review its EHC Plan annual review procedures to ensure they are completed within the statutory timescales

• Review its complaint handling procedures to ensure complaints are registered and responded to in line with its policy and within appropriate timescales.

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

In February it revealed it was paying out compensation totalling £1,300 over a failure to provide a laptop when required to do so and for failing to investigate physical assaults on the young person.

No identifying details of either family have been released in order to protect their anonymity.