A mum has won £1,250 after a South London council’s failures caused her son to miss out on a proper education for nine months.

The boy, who has special educational needs, missed out on teaching for most of 2020 because of Lewisham Council’s delays.

His mum, known as Miss X, first asked the local authority to consider sending her son, known as F, to a specialist school part-time in March 2020.

She requested the move after teachers at the regular secondary school he was attending said they couldn’t support him properly. 

But the council didn’t update the boy’s education plan until five months later.

When Miss X finally received the report, it referred to her son by the wrong name.

Her son returned to the regular school in September 2020 but only for  two weeks. 

An Ombudsman report reads: “In June 2020 Miss X contacted the SENDCo (SEN co-ordinator) at the school for an update. The SENDCo told Miss X F’s case was going before the council’s panel towards the end of June. Miss X tried to contact the council’s SEN officer but did not receive a response until early August 2020. 

“The caseworker confirmed the annual recommendations had not gone to panel, but it was doing so the next day [but] there is no evidence F received any education or contact from the council about education between March and July 2020. Due to the delays in issuing F’s amended education, health and care (EHC) plan, F remained on roll at the school and started attending there again in September 2020. The placement broke down after only two weeks.”

After the boy stopped attending school, Lewisham offered him two hours of daily teaching through a tutoring agency.

His mum complained it wasn’t suitable due to a lack of communication and structure.

It wasn’t until the end of the autumn term in December 2020 that the council arranged a private tutor for the boy.

Unhappy with how Lewisham had handled the situation, Miss X complained several times to the council.

After her third complaint, Lewisham offered her £500 to buy a laptop to make up for her son’s missed education.

Miss X remained dissatisfied and went to the local government and social care Ombudsman [LGSCO] – a body that deals with council complaints. 

The Ombudsman criticised Lewisham Council for failing to meet her son’s educational needs.

It ordered the local authority to pay £1,250 to Miss X and her son for the distress and uncertainty its blunders caused them.

The Ombudsman report, published on January 27, reads: “The council was at fault. It failed to use reasonable endeavours between May and July 2020 to provide F with education in line with his [EHC] plan.

“It then failed to issue his amended EHC plan in line with statutory timescales following an annual review in March 2020. The council had already offered Miss X a total of £1,000 to remedy the injustice caused to her and F which was insufficient to remedy the injustice we have identified. The council agreed [to] pay Miss X a further £250.”

F finally began attending a specialist school in January 2021, almost a year after his mum first asked the council for a move.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “The council has accepted the findings and recommendations of the LGSCO, which recognised the remedies already offered and improvements made by the council following its own internal investigation between 2018 and 2020.

“The council has made a further detailed apology to the complainant following the LGSCO decision, and financial remedy has been issued. We are naturally sorry for the distress caused to this family.”

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