Nov 17, (UK) Bedfordshire Live: Central Bedfordshire Council fined after series of special education needs and disabilities provision failures https://www.bedfordshirelive.co.uk/news/bedfordshire-news/central-bedfordshire-council-fined-after-7828623
Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC)has been fined £1,500 by the ombudsman over a parent’s complaint around special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) provision for his son. The issues included a delay by the local authority in completing his son’s education, health and care plan (EHCP).
Mr X, as he was referred to, was also unhappy his son missed out on speech and language therapy, while a personal budget request was delayed. The council also provided inaccurate information to his MP and there was poor communication from CBC, according to a local government and social care ombudsman’s report.
His son has “missed out on full-time education and therapy, causing Mr X distress,” said the report. “The boy started attending pre-school in January 2019. In March 2020, the pre-schools special educational needs co-ordinator (SENco) referred him to the early years SEND team requesting support with strategies for developing his communication, interaction and social skills.
“He was also seen by a speech and language therapist. He was due to start primary school in September 2021. CBC found the original documents, shortly after it received a second request from the school and decided to proceed with an EHC needs assessment in February 2021.”
The council missed the 20-week statutory deadline to complete the assessment, explained the report. The draft plan was issued in July 2021.
“The delay prevented his case being presented at a local authority special school panel, so he couldn’t be granted a specialist school place for September 2021. CBC apologised for its poor communication with Mr X. It issued a final EHCP i
August 2021 stating the placement would be a special school, without naming a specific location. Emails confirmed a school placement was available for him to start in April 2022.
“The placement was delayed because of building works at the school, rather than the application process. Mr X accepted the placement, and home tuition was agreed from September 2021 until April 2022.” Mr X requested a personal budget for therapy support, and autism specific help for his son in November 2021.
“CBC’s SEND resource panel met in January 2022 and didn’t agree to provide a personal budget. The tuition level is offered on a case-by-case basis, working with the family around the child’s needs.”
The evidence CBC provided confirmed it failed to provide the hours of tuition agreed from September 2021 to April 2022, added the ombudsman. “The council’s failure to properly record how it was decided the boy should receive eight hours of tuition amounts to fault, as does failure to review this provision.