Lincolnshire County Council has agreed to pay £2,500 to the mother of a child with special educational needs after delays and failures to provide the right level of support.
The woman, called Mrs X in reports published online, told the Local Government Ombudsman that the council and a Lincolnshire school had failed to provide her son the one-to-one education specified in his Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan when he moved to secondary school in September 2018.
Healthcare specialists had said previously that the boy, who has been diagnosed as having special educational needs since January 2013, needed “direct intense” one-to-one support.
They said that without that: “he does not actively engage and therefore does not learn and progress” adding however, that he “needed to be encouraged to develop his own ability to lean and self-motivate”.
Lincolnshire County Council had paid exceptional funding for the boy to receive full-time one-to-one support while he was at primary school.
However, in an updated EHC Plan prior to him going to a secondary special school it said 95% support should be given but “gradually be withdrawn to promote independence”.
In a series of contacts by Mrs X, it transpired that the council had not agreed exceptional funding for her son because “his needs were not considered to be complex enough for additional contributions”.
Despite further complaints by Mrs X about a lack of support, the council said it had not reduced or removed provision for her child and was confident the school could meet his needs “based on its basic staffing levels of one teacher and teaching assistant to every eight pupils”.
Further discussions resulted in the EHC Plan being amended to specify the child should receive one-to-one support for 75% of his school day, however Mrs X later complained to the Ombudsman that the school was still not providing it.
Following her final complaint, LCC agreed to provide the exceptional funding – backdated to February 2019.
The LGO upheld the mother’s complaint, finding the council at fault for delays in issuing a final EHC Plan, and not being clear to either the school or Mrs X.
The inspector said: “Whatever the wording of [his] EHC Plan, we do not accept the council was in any doubt about [his] needs.
“The council was at fault for failing to provide education in-line with [his] assessed needs between September 2018 and April 2019.
“That fault has caused Mrs X a significant injustice. She has gone to great deal of time and trouble raising her concerns with School W and the council.
“She said that she had to spend every evening completing academic work with [her son] so he would not fall behind. She said it has affected how they spend time as a family.”
Following publication of the result, Heather Sandy, Interim Director for Education at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We accept the findings in the report and have taken steps to remedy the situation.
“We would like to offer our apologies to the student and his family for any distress caused.”
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