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(UK) Complaints from "desperate" SPED parents double in 5 yrs

July 9, 2022, Schools Week: SEND complaints soar in the past five years

'Lack of transparency' from councils during lockdowns

Complaints by parents desperate to get help for their vulnerable children look set to double compared with five years ago, new figures further exposing the broken SEND system show.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) received 403 complaints about how councils dealt with special educational needs (SEN) services between January and May, nearly the same as the 424 submitted in the whole of 2017.

The data, obtained by a freedom of information request, shows on average nearly 90 per cent of investigated complaints have been upheld. Most are likely to relate to education, health and care plans (EHCPs), a legal document detailing what support a child should get. Sharon Chappell, the assistant ombudsman, said investigation teams were “at capacity. We are seeing wide-ranging systemic issues, councils struggling to cope and meet the statutory timescales….

The LGSCO is a free, impartial service for parents who want to complain about a council’s administrative actions….


Emma Eveleigh, a mother of two children diagnosed with autism, has had four complaints upheld, with more than £9,000 [$11,000] awarded to her from Suffolk County Council in the past two years.

One ruling found the council took five months to begin trying to source therapy for her son during 2020. Another ruled the council failed to provide him with suitable full-time education for ten months…. Thirty-six complaints against Suffolk have been upheld since 2017, 90 per cent of those investigated.

The county follows Surrey which had 48 upheld and Kent which topped the table with 52. It comes among a backdrop of nine in ten parents winning SEND tribunals last year. This is a separate appeal route where parents can challenge council refusals to assess a child’s needs or issue an EHCP….


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