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Council apologises after boy with high level needs was left without a school place for eight weeks

Thursday, May 5th, 2022 8:09pm

By Jessica Hubbard - Local Democracy Reporter

West Sussex County Council also paid a total of £3,750 to the child and his mother – known as Ms X – following an investigation by the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman.

A report from the ombudsman described how the council failed to find the boy a secondary school place in time for the September 2021 term and also failed to provide care support during the time he had to stay at home.

The report said: “The family were left without any additional support for the time Ms X’s son was without a school place.

“This points to a concerning lack of capacity in local care services even allowing for the impact of Covid-19.”

A council spokesman said: “We accept the ombudsman’s findings and have apologised to the family.

“We acknowledge that in this case we should have consulted specialist secondary schools sooner about the child’s transfer, and that the delay caused an unnecessary eight-week gap in their education along with additional anxiety and care charges for the family.

“We have carried out all of the recommendations in the report, including making the payments to the child and parents, totalling £3,750, which the ombudsman has accepted.”

The money was made up of £1,200 for the child for his loss of education, £2,400 for Ms X for the care services she had to provide, and £150 for Ms X for the time and trouble of bringing the complaint.

The council spokesman added: “The local authority is aware of the challenges associated with access to suitable specialist school placements for some pupils and this remains an ongoing focus within our Special Needs and Disabilities and Inclusion Strategy.

“We plan to discuss the action we are taking and the learning from this case at our next Children and Young People’s Services scrutiny meeting on June 8.”

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