Bedford council ordered to pay £1,000 compensation for child's 'missed education'

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Father had complained the council failed to provide suitable education

Bedford Borough Council must pay £1,000 in compensation to a parent whose son missed out on half a term of education.

The father – only known as Mr X – had complained the council had failed to provide suitable education for his child from October 2022 until October 2023.

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The Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman has now ordered the council to pay compensation to the family, saying: “We found fault with the council failing to provide suitable education for Mr X’s son for half a term. We also found fault with the council completing the annual review process six weeks outside the statutory timescales. The council agreed to apologise to Mr X and pay him £1,000 for his son’s missed education.”

Bedford Borough Council was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensationBedford Borough Council was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation
Bedford Borough Council was ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation

It added: "Mr X complained the council failed to provide suitable education for his child from October 2022 until October 2023. Mr X also complained the council delayed in updating his son’s Education and Health Care (EHC Plan) and placed his son at an unsuitable school.”

Mr X’s son had lived in a different council area before October 2022 and attended mainstream education there. The previous council had produced an EHC Plan for him.

When the child moved to the Bedford area in the academic year 2022/2023, his father contacted Bedford Borough Council in October 2022. He told the authority his son had been out of education for five weeks and believed mainstream education would not be suitable. However the council disagreed, saying his EHC Plan said mainstream education was suitable – but it would consult both a mainstream and SEN school.

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According to the ombudsman‘s report, the SEN school said it was not a suitable placement for the child, so in November 2022, a mainstream school in the borough accepted his and said he could start from January 2023 – leaving the child in limbo for two months.

The father – Mr X – complained to the council about it failing to provide education for his son on November 30, 2022.

Bedford Borough Council then consulted with a tuition provider in the December of 2022 which said it could provide a tutor once they’d received DBS clearance – this didn’t come until January 4, 2023, leaving the child out on a limb again.

The father complained to the council about the delay and the authority apologised, confirming the man’s son would start mainstream education on January 9, 2023 on a part-time timetable – by January 18, 2023, less than 10 days later, the mainstream school had excluded the child.

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He then attend the council’s education centre for excluded children on a reduced timetable while he awaited further assessment.

As the delays and complaints continued, the council acknowledged it had made a mistake in failing to provide education and even offered £300 in Amazon vouchers.

In the end, an independent SEN school confirmed it could take the child after the October half-term.

The ombudsman said: “While I do not find fault with the council placing [the child] in mainstream education, the council failed to put this in place until January 9, 2023.”

And added: “[The child] has missed half a term of education caused by the fault of the council.”

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