Central Bedfordshire Council ordered to pay £800 after failing pupil with special educational needs

Central Bedfordshire CouncilCentral Bedfordshire Council
Central Bedfordshire Council
CBC ordered to pay extra £300 after initial £500 remedy payment for failings within its EHCP provision for SEND pupil and delays.

Central Bedfordshire Council was unable to supply a laptop for her use outside school, according to the local government and social care ombudsman.

One-to-one support and coordination of the educational package failed to be delivered as required by an education health and care plan (EHCP), said the ombudsman.

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A resident complained CBC failed to update his daughter’s EHCP “within statutory timescales and ensure the provision was delivered”. An appeal was heard in January 2023 and a final order issued by a tribunal the following month.

The EHCP stated she should have one-to-one teaching assistant support for 24 hours a week in her educational setting, and that the local authority would supply a laptop.

There would be an education programme and therapy to be coordinated by an educational professional from within the council or an externally commissioned person with suitable experience.

He complained to CBC in April 2023 about the delay in finalising her EHCP and for its contents not being delivered, explained the ombudsman.

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CBC upheld the complaint, acknowledging delay in finalising her EHCP. It said a provider was seeking to employ a teaching assistant to support her and agreed to fund this via an agency worker until a staff member is recruited longer-term.

The provider agreed to supply a laptop, while CBC arranged permanent equipment. A representative from its SEND service was to be allocated to oversee delivery of the plan.

But the complaint was escalated by the father in May, as the laptop was unavailable outside school and CBC had still to appoint a staff member.

CBC sent its stage two complaint response in August 2023, saying ‘it had been unable to recruit a personal assistant before the end of the academic year, and one-to-one support was provided through a teaching assistant’.

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It apologised and offered £500 as a symbolic payment for delays in securing provision, added the ombudsman.

“CBC was required by the tribunal order to provide an amended final EHCP by March 20th 2023. This was issued three days later, and the further finalised EHCP another week on. This is fault by the council.

“CBC said discrepancies identified by its legal team contributed to delay, as it required extra time to seek clarity from the tribunal service. Staff turnover and leave contributed to the document being issued late.

“While I acknowledge fault by CBC, I don’t consider this delay caused her a significant injustice. The lack of one-to-one support from a teaching assistant for 24 hours a week is fault by CBC.

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“It acknowledged a delay in securing support because of recruitment issues. The failure to coordinate her education programme and therapy through an educational professional was fault by CBC, as was the failure to supply the laptop.

“I disagree she hasn’t incurred an injustice, as the council claims. The laptop provision was only within the education setting.

“CBC will pay a further £300 to acknowledge the distress caused to him and the wider family, as well as completing a case review for his daughter.”