Council told to apologise to family after failings

The county council has been told to pay £2,000 and apologise to a Derbyshire family after its failures led to their daughter missing out on four months of education.

A child, renamed as Miss Z to retain anonymity, missed out on four months of education, causing “injustice” to her and her family, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has ruled.

The council watchdog says Derbyshire County Council was at fault.

Miss Z is legally entitled to a set amount of extra support due to her special educational needs – listed in a binding document called an Education, Health and Care Plan, for which the county council is responsible.

The girl, the watchdog’s report says, has “serious physical health disorders affecting her movement” and he stopped attending secondary school in February 2018 because of anxiety.

Miss Z remained out of education through to May.

The watchdog says the council “had a duty to arrange suitable alternative education” but did not.

A report on the decision says: “Whilst it appears some work was sent home, this was not in an accessible format to her. There was no serious attempt by the council to ensure Miss Z was given education of a scale or nature appropriate to her needs.”

The watchdog says the council should apologise “for not taking timely action when she became absent from school in February 2018, meaning she missed out on education she was entitled to receive”.

It also says £2,000 should be paid to Miss Z “to be used for her educational benefit to remedy the loss of education”.

The LGO also says the county council should review its policies around children being out of school for ‘other’ reasons. 

It said the council’s restriction to accessing support on the basis of medical evidence does not appear to meet the requirements of section 19 of the Education Act.

A spokesperson for the county council said: “Derbyshire County Council takes all complaints seriously and works with parents and carers to ensure that the provision meets the needs of young people.

“We continually review our processes and the findings from this case will be carefully considered.”

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