Central Bedfordshire Council fined by ombudsman over delays to child’s education, health and special needs care plan Bedford News

A delay in finding a suitable school for an excluded child with special needs resulted in a £2,600 fine from Central Bedfordshire Council by the local government and social care ombudsman.

The municipality must pay the sum to the father of the boy, called MX, in the month following the decision.

Mr X complained about the situation that his son was “not receiving a proper full-time education”. The ombudsman investigated the complaint from March 2020 to September 2021.

Central Council of Chicksands Beds Headquarters

“The boy had EHCP and was permanently excluded from primary school in March 2020,” according to the ombudsman’s report.

“He remained enrolled in his school until the exclusion was final in October 2020,” he said. “This exclusion was later found to be unlawful by a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SEND).

“CBC enrolled the boy in another academy within six days of the disqualification, an alternative arrangement, which offered online lessons because of Covid-19.

“His participation in the online delivery from March to July 2020 was 36%. He showed up on site six days for three hours.

“Incidents there meant he was receiving education online until the council found a more suitable arrangement.”

“CBC began reassessing its needs in August 2020. The SEND Code of Practice states that after a reassessment, the board should decide whether to issue an EHCP within ten weeks and finalize that plan within 14 weeks.

“CBC said the time taken to obtain an educational psychology report meant there was a 41-day delay in releasing the draft EHCP. There was an 83-day delay for publish the final plan, which named a type of school.

“Council said the previous EHCP remained in place during this period and the boy had access to the alternative provision. Their view is that the delay did not cause him to miss any educational provision.

“EHCP’s draft was sent to MX in December 2020,” the report adds. “This draft plan did not identify a type or name a school. The board consulted six schools, five of which said they could not meet the needs and one was full.

“Notes from a January 2021 Team Around the Family (TAF) meeting indicated the boy was settled and enjoying his job, but this was a temporary measure.

“The minutes indicate that his parents were happy with home learning, but wanted a provision found for him that met his needs.

“CBC sent a final EHCP in February 2021. This designated the special school as an educational placement. A final plan in August 2021 named a specific independent special school where it began in September 2021.”

It took more than a year from his exclusion for CBC to amend the EHCP to include a special school, the ombudsman said. “During this period, his education was disrupted and so I can understand Mr. X’s concerns.

“But the boy had an alternative available to him during this time and I can see that CBC was actively seeking a suitable placement for him.

“I think there is evidence of delay on the part of the board. It was a fault. It took from March to August 2020 for CBC to start the reassessment process.

“There was a delay of three months in issuing the final EHCP and a further six months in identifying a suitable specialist school.

“I recognize the impact the delays had on Mr. X and his family, as it was uncertain whether his son would have a full-time school placement until a month before the new school year.

“I consider that he must remedy the impact on him and his son as the boy has not received the full provisions of his EHCP.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-31 22:43:48

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