Cornwall Council's failure to provide education - Ombudsman investigation
- AuthorLiz Smith
A report published this week by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman in response to a complaint against Cornwall Council, highlights three key areas that we find are repeated failings throughout the country.
The Ombudsman identified that the Council could have issued an EHC Plan for this child earlier and that the Council had applied too high a threshold for deciding whether or not to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment. We repeatedly see Local Authorities inaccurately applying criteria in its decisions whether to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment rather than applying the correct legal test where the threshold, as described by the Ombudsman, is ‘low’. As the Ombudsman report says, “the threshold for deciding an assessment is low – a council only needs to be satisfied a child may have special educational needs and may require provision. In this case there was ample evidence the boy met this”.
The Ombudsman highlighted the need for different Council departments to work together effectively and to communicate properly. Across the country, we repeatedly an absence of communication between the three key agencies working with children and young people with special educational needs, namely education, social care and health. In this case, the Ombudsman reports “this case highlights the importance of council departments working together, communicating properly and sharing information to ensure the correct support is provided in a timely way”.
In this case, the child was out of education for a considerable period of time, another issue that we see throughout the country and in this case, he missed out on full-time education for 12 months and the Local Authority did not put in place alternative arrangements for his education whilst he was out of school.
If you are concerned that the Local Authority is not meeting the needs of your child or you are experiencing similar difficulties, you could lodge a formal complaint through the Council’s complaint procedure and if you then remain unhappy with the outcome, you could progress this to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. To read the article in full click here