The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published the latest round of complaints submitted by parents and carers to the body, and its decisions about those complaints. They touch on children’s social care, local authority handling of child protection cases and the provision of education and educational support.
Children and Education
Please note: decisions are published six weeks after they are issued to councils, care providers and the person who has made the complaint. The cases below reflect the caselaw and guidance available.
We don’t know about you, but we are always astounded by the number of complaints published every week. Over the course of a year, this really adds up.
Summary: Mr F complains the Council failed to secure the provision in his son’s education, health and care plan from April to November 2020 and about the way it dealt with his education in that period. We have ended our investigation into most of Mr F’s complaints because they are either outside the Ombudsman’s remit or should not be pursued further as no injustice has been caused. We will incorporate one element into Mr F’s separate complaint to the Ombudsman about provision following a SEND Tribunal.
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the actions of the Council as it is not the relevant authority for dealing with Mr and Mrs X’s child’s special educational needs. We cannot investigate the actions of a school or the Council’s response to a complaint about the school.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about children services actions. We are unlikely to add to the Council’s reply and unlikely to find fault with its decision on how to include him in meetings.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about a children services officer’s actions. We cannot investigate the preparation and content of reports prepared for Court proceedings. Nor an officer’s attendance at Court.
Summary: We will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council using her information without her consent, an officer lying to her and a failure to reply to her complaint. This is because the complaint does not meet the tests in our Assessment Code on how we decide which complaints to investigate. There are other bodies better placed.
Summary: We will not investigate this late complaint about what the Council may have not told Mr X when a person and her child moved into his home in 2016. Mr X was able to complain about it in 2016 and there is no good reason to exercise discretion to investigate the complaint now.
Summary: Mr A complains on behalf of Mrs X, his daughter, that the Council has not dealt properly with education provision or Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision for his granddaughter Y. The Council is at fault because it delayed issuing a decision about Y’s Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), it delayed Mrs X’s appeal rights, used disrespectful language, did not provide a Child In Need (CIN) plan in time and did not postpone a meeting. The Council has made some service improvements. In addition, the Council should apologise, Pay Mrs X £3,000 for missed education provision, Pay Mrs X £500 for distress/outrage, pay Mr A £50 for time and trouble and provide guidance to staff.
Summary: Ms X complains the Council failed to ensure her son is receiving the provision named in his Education Health and Care Plan so he has lost the support he needs in school causing distress. We have found no evidence of fault in the way the Council responded to Ms X’s concerns about the provision being made. So, we are completing our investigation.
Summary: Mrs X complains the Council delayed in issuing her daughter’s final EHC plan. We find fault as there was significant delay in the Council issuing the final EHC plan. We have made recommendations for the Council to remedy the injustice caused to Mrs X and her daughter.
Summary: Miss X complained about the way the Council handled her daughter, Y’s Education, Health and Care Plan review in 2020, and that it delayed issuing its decision to maintain the plan for six months in 2021. Miss X also complained the Council incorrectly declined school transport for Y and its communication about matters was poor. We found the Council delayed in issuing its decision not to amend Y’s Education, Health and Care Plan by 15 weeks, however, it has already remedied the injustice that caused. There was no fault in the Council’s decision on school transport or in its communication with Miss X.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about the Council failing to provide Occupational Therapy provision. This is because the Council has provided a remedy and we would not obtain a significantly different outcome for Mr X if we investigated.
Summary: The Council is at fault for not progressing this complaint to stage three of the children’s statutory complaints procedure. The Council has now agreed to arrange a stage three panel.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that social workers have made false accusations against Mr X. The matters complained of are not separable from issues concerning contact with Mr X’s children, in respect of which Mr X has a right to go to court it would be reasonable to use.
Summary: Miss X complained that the Council failed to make special educational provision for her adult son in line with his Education, Health and Care plan. She also complained that the Council failed to review her son’s Education, Health and Care plan, failed to provide onsite learning during COVID-19 lockdowns, and failed to provide work experience. Miss X said her son’s education suffered as a result. We find the Council at fault for failing to provide special educational provision and for failing to review the Education, Health and Care plan. To remedy the injustice caused, the Council will apologise to Miss X’s son, makes a payment to him, and provide additional speech and language therapy sessions.
Summary: Mrs C complained the Council delayed in providing her son with an Education, Health and Social Care Plan naming a suitable school. Also, that it failed to provide him with suitable education while she appealed the content of that plan. We uphold a complaint the Council took too long to finalise the plan. This delay caused both Mrs C and her son injustice. The Council accepts this finding and at the end of this statement we set out the action it agreed to remedy that injustice. The statement also explains why we are unable to investigate or uphold other parts of Mrs C’s complaint.
Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint that the Council failed to ensure her son’s (A’s) school made provision for his Education Health and Care Plan requirements. This is because it is unlikely our involvement would add to the investigation carried out by the Council or lead to a different outcome.
Summary: Ms E complained the Council did not provide her son with the education and specialist provision as set out in his Education, Health and Care plan when he started a new school in September 2020. We find the Council was at fault for failing to provide Ms E’s son with alternative education when he was not attending school. It has also delayed finalising his Education, Health and Care plan. The Council has agreed to our recommendations to address the injustice caused by fault.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about misleading information in both policy and process. The complaint concerns a school admission and Mr X has a right to appeal against the refusal of a place it would be reasonable to use.
Summary: The Council was at fault when it refused to escalate Mrs X’s complaints to stage 2 of the statutory children’s complaints procedures, after considering them at stage 1. It has agreed to start the stage 2 investigation without delay and make service improvements to prevent a reoccurrence of the faults identified.
Summary: We uphold Mr X’s complaint, as the Council delayed considering a complaint at stage two of the children’s statutory complaints procedure. The Council has agreed to complete its stage two without further delay and make a payment for the delay so far.
Summary: We cannot investigate Mrs X’s complaint that the Council’s court report in a private family law case was flawed. We cannot lawfully investigate what happens at court including the content of a court report.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint that the Council failed to consider Mrs X’s Asperger’s diagnosis in its communication with her. That is because it is reasonable for Mrs X to raise these concerns in the family court.
Summary: Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s children protection actions from late 2020 and its handling of his complaints. There is no fault in the Council investigating the child protection referral or holding child protection case conferences. The Council has remedied or is acting to remedy Mr X’s injustice arising from the complaint handling and social worker actions. If Mr X wishes to pursue other claims it is reasonable for him to use his legal remedies.
Summary: Miss X complained the Council failed to adequately safeguard her niece Y and did not investigate information she provided indicating Y was at risk of harm. Miss X also complained the Council unfairly restricted access between Miss X’s family and Y. There was no fault with the Council’s actions.
Summary: Ms X complains the chair of a child in need meeting bullied her and the Council has delayed in providing respite for her daughter. We cannot come to any view on whether the chair of the child in need meeting bullied Ms X. The Council is not at fault for the delays in securing respite provision for Ms X. But it is at fault for not considering Ms X’s complaint through the children’s services statutory complaints procedure
Sunderland City Council (21 005 119)
Summary: Mrs B complains about the Council’s decision not to award Child B school transport, causing him to be without transport he is entitled to. The Ombudsman does not intend to find fault with the Council for how it decided not to grant Child B transport. The Ombudsman finds fault with the Council for how it handled representations to the panel, and for how it communicated with Mrs B. However, the Ombudsman has found no further action is needed as the remedies and actions taken by the Council are proportionate to the fault and injustice.
Summary: We will not investigate this complaint about alternative educational provision. Matters before March 2022 are not separable from those that were before a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, and there is not enough evidence of injustice since then to warrant investigation. We can as yet reach no view on matters in the future.
Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the Council’s child protection investigation in 2019 and subsequent complaint handling. Mr X complains late about the child protection and complaint handling in 2019 and 2020. There is no reason to exercise discretion to investigate because he could have complained sooner. There is no ongoing injustice.
Summary: We cannot investigate Miss X’s complaint about recommendations a social worker made in court during family court proceedings because it lies outside our jurisdiction. The law prevents us from considering complaints about matters that have been considered in court. We have no discretion to do so.
Summary: We cannot investigate this complaint about the effect on Mr X’s contact with a child of an alleged improper connection between a social worker and the child’s mother. This matter is not separable from matters concerning the contact arrangements for the child, which are subject to court proceedings.
Summary: Mr B complained the Council did not carry out the statutory children’s complaint procedure correctly. Mr B said this caused him emotional distress. We found fault with the Council for delays in its complaint procedure. This caused Mr B injustice. The Council will make a financial payment to remedy this injustice.