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(UK) Salford: Council pays $3.7K; autistic boy out of school for 4 months

Dec 12, 2022, Manchester Evening News: Mum paid £3,000 [$3.7K] by council after son misses school for four month

NW England

A mother of an autistic child has been paid more than £3,000 by Salford city council over failures which resulted in him missing four months of school. The compensation was awarded by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, who found there was 'delay and poor communication' by the council over the issuing of the child's education and health care plan (EHCP).

There was also a failure by the council under the terms of the Children and Families Act 2014 to provide alternative education for the boy once the authority was aware that he had been out of school for 15 days. The Ombudsman reported that the boy, named as 'B' in the report, was diagnosed with autism in 2018. He experiences extreme agitation in noisy and busy environments.

His mother, 'Mrs X', said that B stopped attending School 'C' in early December 2020 because of his medical needs and inability to cope at school. The council received a request for a special educational needs (SEN) assessment in late December 2020 - when the council became aware of B's non-attendance at school.

Salford city council agreed to the assessment and in May 2021 it issued a draft EHC plan, followed by a second one in June 2021. The council claimed Mrs X was 'slow to respond to the draft, or to name her preferred school and this caused some delay in the process'.

However, Mrs X said she returned hers and her son's comments on the day she received the first draft. "Mrs X says the council agreed to specialist provision and she visited various specialist schools," the report said.

"Mrs X says the council issued a second draft and she responded promptly, naming a particular school as her preferred choice. Mrs X had to approach a solicitor because of the delay in issuing a final EHC plan.

"The solicitor sent a pre-action protocol letter, threatening judicial review. Three days later, Mrs X says the council issued a final EHC plan.

"She paid £1,500 legal costs. The council issued a final EHC plan on July 30 2021, naming School C."

Mrs X did not accept that this was a suitable placement and she exercised her right of appeal to a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Tribunal, the report said. "The council accepts that it breached the timescale of 20 weeks to finalise the EHC plan and that this delayed Mrs X's right of appeal to the SEND Tribunal," it continued.

"The council has already apologised to Mrs X for this and agrees in principle to make a symbolic payment to recognise the avoidable distress and lost opportunity to appeal sooner. It also accepted in its complaint response of July 2021 that its communication with Mrs X was poor….


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