DCC let down child with special needs – compensation and strengthening of procedures required

Unfortunately, DCC under pressure from government has had to cut back on alternative provision for children with special needs including those deemed medically unfit for mainstream school. They are meant to provide 25 hours alternative provision for such young people deemed medically unfit. A parent whose child did not receive alternative schooling took his case to the Local Government Ombudsman

The complaint x which is linked to below – illustrates that DCC has no central person dealing with this type of need, and also did not realise that it should be providing 25 hours of alternative provision.

There were multiple mistakes made in this sad case.

Actions required were:

For the Council to:

Apologise for the fault identified in this statement. It should do this within a month of my decision.

Pay Mr E £300 to reflect the time and trouble he was put to identifying the central point of contact and in finding the Council’s policy on children out of school.

A further £100 for his distress in the Council failing to consider his wish for F to be educated outside the home and £200 for the uncertainty of not knowing whether F could have had more contact with his peers.

I note the Council has not yet made the payment of £400 to reflect the delay in its complaints handling; it should make this a payment of £500 to reflect its delay in dealing with the third complaint. These payments should be made within three months of my decision.

Pay F £1,600 to reflect him receiving insufficient amounts of education until he was electively home educated. This payment should also be made within three months of my decision.

For the Council to consider amending its procedures to:
Check with schools that the people employed to support individual children with special educational needs, are appropriately trained;

Consider recommendations made in statutory guidance are acted upon as soon as possible or to explain why practice is not being changed;

Receive reports about children educated out of school to check they are receiving the full amount of education to which they are entitled.

Consider parental wishes when arranging alternative provision. Even if those wishes cannot be met, the Council should explain why.

Ensure procedures are robust enough to ensure the Council obtains documents promptly and sends out decision letters and drafts as soon as possible.

Ensure LADOs are appropriately trained to enable them to fulfil this role.

Ensure its complaints procedure is robust enough so that deadlines are adhered to.

These aspects should be considered within four months of the date of my decision.