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(UK) Leeds: Council fined; autistic boy out of school 3 yrs due to "huge increase in demand"

June 13, 2023, Yorkshire Evening Post: Leeds City Council ordered to pay family £7,000 [$8.8K] in compensation after their son misses three years of school

N. England

The young pupil has missed more than three years of school, with the council guilty of a number of failings, a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said.

The child’s father, who took the case to the Ombudsman, complained “promises had not been kept by the council”, according to the report.

The council has apologised, saying it’s handling a huge increase in demand for help for special needs children.

The council has apologised, saying it’s handling a huge increase in demand for help for special needs children

The Ombudsman said the child, who has autism, ADHD and “entrenched” mental health issues, was pulled out of school in October 2019, with mainstream education no longer felt to be suitable for him.

The report told how the pupil’s parents wanted him to attend a specialist school for children with complex needs in Richmond Hill, in east Leeds, but were advised there was no space available until September 2023.

Although available places at other similar schools elsewhere in the city were offered to the family, these were rejected, with “transport” provision among the concerns raised.

The council initially refused to provide home tutoring to the child in the meantime, on the grounds they believed the family had been offered a “suitable” place. But at the end of 2021, they did agree to fund some through the child’s old school, according to the report.

But the Ombudsman added: “However, it appears the council did not follow through its plans, so that by July 2022, seven months later, support was still not in place and the school was still ‘chasing’ the council for funding (for the tutor).

“Something had clearly gone wrong. The council was responsible and is at fault.”

The local authority also apologised for a delay in reviewing his son’s education health and care plan (EHCP), which councils have to devise for all youngsters with special needs.

Councils across the country have experienced huge rise in requests for EHCPs since the pandemic….

The Ombudsman recommended the council pay the family £7,200 to “recognise the impact on the family of the missed opportunity to engage B in learning”.

In response, a spokesperson for the council said: “Leeds, like many local authorities, has experienced a significant increase in the number of children with special educational needs and disabilities.

“Whilst we do not comment on individual cases, the council accepts the findings in the Ombudsman report and has apologised to the family.

“This is a complex case which the council has attempted to resolve in a number of ways. The council is continuing to work with the family and remains firmly committed to ensuring that all children living in Leeds have access to good quality and appropriate education.”


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