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Brighton Family Receive Compensation For Child's Missed Education

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 06:22

By Sarah Booker-Lewis, Local Democracy Reporter

A mother has received a payout of £1,600 after Brighton and Hove City Council failed to provide her child with an education.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman ordered the award after the mother, referred to as Mrs X, complained because her child missed schooling at various times from July 2022 to November 2023.

Mrs X said that the council was supposed to provide a tutor for her child, referred to as “Y”, to build a relationship so that the child could return to school.

But she said that the tuition was “inconsistently provided and not suitable for her child’s needs” and stopped for long periods.

Mrs X also complained to the ombudsman before July 2022 but those complaints are subject to different investigations.

After the initial investigation, the council put a tutor in place and both mother and child were happy with the arrangement – five hours a week of tutoring after introductory sessions.

But from January last year, the tutor reduced their time to four hours a week. The council was initially unaware of the change.

The child was admitted to hospital in March last year and, while in hospital, an incident occurred that required a “safeguarding referral” and “child in need plan”.

His tuition was on hold until a safety plan was in place as child Y’s tutor said that they were not suited to online learning.

By April last year, the original tutor was not available to restart lessons and a new safety plan was needed before two new tutors were put in place – Tuesday by 6 June – providing eight hours of tuition a week.

An incident occurred with one of the new tutors who was asked to leave by Mrs X.

This situation resulted in child Y losing four hours a week of tuition during term-time until October, when the eight hours were reinstated and an education, health and care plan (EHCP) was in place.

The report said:

“A council must keep all cases of part-time education under review with a view to increasing it as a child’s capacity to learn increases.

“The council provided no evidence it kept Y’s amount of tutoring under review.”

From July 2022 to November 2023, through the fault of the council, child Y lost:

  • 20 per cent (one hour) of his education for four weeks from the end of January until late March last year
  • all his education for five weeks from late April until early June
  • half of his education (four hours) for six weeks from early July until October

In January this year, Mrs X appealed to a special education needs and disability (SEND) tribunal – so complaints after the start of last November are not subject to the ombudsman’s investigation.

Brighton and Hove City Council said:

“The council has accepted the ombudsman’s findings and has apologised and made payment to Mrs X in line with the ruling made.

“Working with families and schools, the council works to ensure all children are supported to continue their learning but this can be a challenge when faced with multiple factors.

“We deeply regret that there were periods when Mrs X’s child did not receive an education.

“We are very sorry for the delay in responding to the complaint raised by this resident. We have learnt from this and continue to work hard to improve the service.”

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