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Council pays Brent mum £1,450 after son with special needs missed 3 months of school

A mum in Brent has been awarded a £1,450 payout after her son missed three months of school due to council delays and a lack of support, which affected his mental health.

There were delays in issuing her son with special needs an updated Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), which sets out a child’s needs and what arrangements the school should make to meet them. The council is required to secure the agreed care requirements and is legally responsible for ensuring this is provided by the school.

An investigation by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found that Brent Council was at fault for the delay in issuing the boy with an updated EHCP and for not ensuring the school was providing the provisions outlined in the current plan.

In November 2021, the boy’s mum, referred to in the report as Mrs X, first complained to the council that her son, referred to as F, had not been receiving the right care in line with his EHCP since September 2020. This included a speech and language therapy (SALT) session that was not in place, as well as a lack of small group learning and the 26 hours extra funding had not been provided.

The Ombudsman found there were “no records” showing that the council had responded to the complaint or checked in with F’s school to make sure he was getting the right support. F’s annual review was due to take place in October 2021. However, this was not carried out until December.

After raising concerns about the lack of support F was receiving at his school numerous times to the council and failing to get a copy of an up-to-date care plan, Mrs X decided to withdraw her son from the school in May 2022. This was done due to F being bullied, as well as struggling in the school environment.

However, the child was only given a new EHCP in July, meaning the council was at fault for delaying issuing the plan by more than five months and F had missed out on schooling for nearly three months. Mrs X said the delay meant no transition plan was in place which caused “a loss of education and affected his mental health”.

The LGO investigation concluded that the ordeal has caused Mrs X “distress, uncertainty, time and trouble” and ordered the council to pay her £250 in recognition of this. It also agreed to a further £1,200 for the loss of education in line with his EHCP between November 2021 and May 2022.

Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, Cllr Gwen Grahl, said: “We deeply regret the delay in updating the Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP). We understand the frustration and concern this caused for the child and their family, and we accept the findings and outcomes in the report.”

She added: “We are committed to making things right and preventing similar situations in the future. We have already taken steps to improve the EHCP update process, including reducing the time for annual reviews. We are confident these changes will significantly improve the timeliness and effectiveness of our support for each child.”