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(UK) Manchester council fined $4100 for failing to educate autistic child before lockdown

Aug 19, 2021, Manchester Evening News: Manchester council fined £3k [$4100] for failing to provide education for autistic child NW England

Manchester council has been fined more than £3,000 for failing to provide education for a child with special educational needs before lockdown began. As a result of a Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) investigation, all children in the city who were out of education before the first national Covid Lockdown will now have their cases reviewed. The LGSCO found Manchester council to be at fault in the case of Ms X, who complained the authority had failed to provide alternative education for her grandson, who she cares for, when he was declared medically unfit to attend his mainstream primary school in April 2019. The child, who has severe anxiety, autism and faces a range of behavioural and learning difficulties, was out of school for a number of months after his GP declared him medically unfit to attend…. “[The child’s] GP wrote saying that [the child] was suffering from severe anxiety and was unable to attend school. Ms X says that [the child] could barely speak, or leave the house, let alone attend school.” The ombudsman said the council should have provided alternative education from the end of April – when the boy’s GP confirmed he was medically not fit to attend school – until it named a special school in his final Education and Health Care (EHC) plan in mid-August 2019. The investigation also found fault with the way the town hall communicated with the boy’s grandmother. It failed to tell her a place was available in her preferred school, which specialised in children with emotional and mental health difficulties, the ombudsman said. The LGSCO has now ordered the council to apologise to Ms X for the faults; pay Ms X £1000 ‘for the additional pressures placed on her by the council’s faults’; £250 for ‘her time and trouble in pursuing this matter’; and pay £1,800 to Ms X to compensate for the three months the child missed. The ombudsman also issued directives to the council compelling it to improve its procedures to prevent similar problems from happening again. The local authority must now review its alternative education policy and review cases of pupils out of school referred to it within the next six months…. The council has accepted the ombudsman’s recommendations. Michael King, of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “At the heart of this case is a grandmother caused unnecessary distress by the council’s poor practice. It decided her grandson’s mainstream school was suitable, despite all evidence from healthcare professionals that it was not. When it did recognise the school was not suitable, it still maintained it was suitable until it found an alternative. “This is yet another case of councils failing to provide alternative education for children who are out of school through no choice of their own. That we are upholding more than four out of five investigations in similar circumstances, points to serious systemic problems affecting some of the most vulnerable children.


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