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(UK) Somerset: Council to pay $2,200 for failing to educate disabled boy

Oct 12, 2022, Somerset County Gazette: Somerset County Council fined after failing young boy with special needs

SW England Somerset County Council has been fined for failing to provide adequate schooling for a young boy with special needs.

The boy, known as Mr Y, missed out on months of specialised schooling after the council delayed the publication of changes to the care plan which had previously been agreed by his mum and the school he attended.

Mr Y’s mum, Miss X, complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, which investigates allegations of maladministration and service failure in the public sector.

The ombudsman found in her favour and ordered the council to pay £2,000 [$2,200] compensation in light of the distress it caused her.

The authority has confirmed the money has been paid and that it had “provided guidance” for its staff to prevent this from happening again.

Under UK law, every child with special educational needs or disabilities must be provided with an education, health and care plan, which is reviewed annually by the council, the parents and the school where the child is receiving education….

Miss X lodged an appeal to the council’s special educational needs or disabilities tribunal in November 2021, more than three months after she had been legally entitled to do so.

The tribunal concluded that Mr Y required a mixture of one-to-one support, work in small groups and being taught as part of a whole class – which, Miss X contended, could not be delivered under his current plan.

The ombudsman concluded the council had not issued Mr Y’s care plan on time, had allowed Mr Y to miss several months of schooling, and had failed to work with Miss X to allow her to make her appeal in a timely fashion.

The investigation also found that Mr Y had missed out on planned sessions with an occupational therapist and that Miss X was “not able to participate in the annual review properly” due to a fault in the council’s procedures.

A council spokesman said: “We have accepted the ruling from the ombudsman and apologise to the family involved.

“We confirm that all actions have been completed, including reminding officers of the importance of the statutory time-scales relating to Education, Health and Care plans. “We have made significant improvements in our EHCP processes and we are committed to continued improvements.”


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