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(UK) Barnsley: Council fails to educate autistic boy; $1,200 in compensation

July 8, 2022, Star: Barnsley Council issues apology and £1,000 [$1,200] to family after ombudsman found it “failed to provide alternative education” when their son was unable to attend school due to anxiety

N England

A delay in providing alternative education for a Barnsley youngster suffering with anxiety has led to Barnsley Council issuing an apology and offering to pay the youngster’s family £1,000.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman concluded that the council’s offer of £1,000 and service improvements was a “reasonable and proportionate way” of resolving the family’s complaint.

The child’s mother, known as Mrs X, complained to the ombudsman that BMBC “delayed in providing alternative education” when her son, known as Y, was unable to attend school due to anxiety.

She alleged that this affected his educational progress and his mental health and caused her “time and trouble in pursuing the matter

Investigation documents state: “Mrs X’s son Y has autism with demand avoidance, anxiety and ADHD.

“He was in a mainstream school until December 2018 until the placement broke down. “He moved to a specialist provision, known as School B, in September 2019, where he attended part time until the lockdown in March 2020.

“Mrs X was concerned with the lack of planning for Y to return to school full-time in the autumn and raised her concerns with the Council in August 2020.

On 2 September 2020 he attended for 20 minutes and then was too anxious to attend at all.”

The report adds that a different school was suggested for the youngster, but no places were available, and the school said it could not meet Y’s needs.

“The Council discussed with Mrs X the possibility of consulting with other settings but Mrs X said she was not aware of any other suitable options,” it states….

“In December 2020 the Council made a referral to the Education other than at School Service (EOTAS).

“In January 2021 Mrs X complained on two occasions to the Council about the lack of educational provision for Y.”

Mrs X called for BMBC to rectify the lack of education, apologise to Y and his family, and “compensate Y for the loss of education affecting future prospects and for the distress caused to him and his family”,

“In March 2021 School B said it could no longer meet Y’s needs as he required specialist support and a therapeutic environment. The Council made a request for tutoring and tutoring sessions began on 12 April 2021,” the report states.

“The Council responded to the complaint in April 2021.

“It accepted that the Council could have checked at an earlier point whether School B was able to provide suitable education for Y and agreed to improve its systems.

“It accepted the lack of education during this period had impacted adversely on Y and Mrs X and it apologised for this and acknowledged it could have done more to ensure appropriate provision was in place.

“It also apologised for the delay in responding to the complaint and agreed to carry out four service improvements within six weeks. It also offered to discuss with Mrs X appropriate redress for her and Y.

“In September 2021 the Council wrote to Mrs X saying that it had addressed her first three desired outcomes. It apologised for the delay in addressing the fourth one and offered £1000 to support educational opportunities for Y.”

Mrs X then complained to the ombudsman, raising further outcomes which she said the council had not addressed.

The report states that the council, in response to the investigator’s enquirues, provided responses to the additional issues.

The report concluded: “I have completed my investigation as I consider the Council’s offer of £1000 and the action taken in respect of service improvements are a reasonable and proportionate way of resolving the complaint.”

Trever Cave, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services at Barnsley Council said: “We accept the Ombudsman’s ruling and take full responsibility.

“Our apologies go to Mrs X and her son for the distress caused, and we have offered compensation to support educational opportunities going forward….

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