Lincolnshire County Council fined £2,000 after 'failing to provide suitable education'
A council has been told to pay more than £2,000 to a mother after failing to provide a “suitable education” for her daughter, who could not attend school due to health problems.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said Lincolnshire County Council caused unnecessary distress, disadvantaged the daughter educationally, and a further £200 was paid for the “time, trouble and […] financial costs pursuing [the mother’s] complaint.”
The council was at fault for its failure to provide alternative education between October 2019 and February 2020 for the daughter, who had to leave school due to a medical condition that causes fatigue, anxiety, and panic attacks.
The daughter’s school referred her to the council for alternatives because it could not provide her with a suitable full-time education.
However, after screening, the council said she did not meet the criteria due to medical evidence not being robust enough to explain why she was too unwell to attend school. The council said it was in line with its policy.
In January 2020, after the mother showed the council a GP letter, it decided to reconsider referral for the daughter to go to a specialist school.
Denied again, the council asked for a more recent report from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs), who had previously supported the daughter.
As a result, the mother complained to the council that her daughter had not received an education since October 2019.
The council told the mother it made two requests to specialist schools and these were both refused, so they deemed the daughter’s absence from school unauthorised.
After receiving a warningfrom school about her daughter’s attendance, the mother sought the help of a solicitor, who approached the council and said it was in breach of its duty to provide the daughter with an education.
The council considered the Camhs report provided a month earlier and decided the daughter was eligible for a specialist school.
Since the report, the mother was happy with the support provided by the school.
The £2,000 is hoped to go to the “educational benefit to acknowledge the loss of education” and amounts to £400 for every month the daughter received no education.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said: “Councils are responsible for providing education to children who cannot attend school by reason of illness, exclusion from school or otherwise may not for any period receive suitable education unless arrangements are made for them.”
The council has agreed to the recommendations.