Richmond Council forced to pay mum over son’s education

A South London council has been forced to pay £ 3,100 to a mum over delays to her son’s special needs education at school.

Richmond Council must fork out the cash after a Local Government Ombudsman probe found “significant delays” over 17 months.

Between September 2017 and 2020, the unnamed woman, referred to only as Miss X, told the council her son was “assaulted on school grounds by an electrician” and bullied at another school.

The boy was also left without a teaching assistant for three months.

Miss X’s son, named A in the report, has autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing difficulties.

In June 2018, Miss X raised concerns about the school A had attended since September 2017.

The ombudsman report reads: “Miss X told the council she was concerned the school was not aware of his autism and sensory difficulties.

“Miss X also told the Council she had raised concerns with the school about A refusing food and self-harming in class.”

The school apologized for not realizing A was refusing food.

The report said it had followed “correct procedures” after the self-harm incident.

In July 2018, the school asked Miss X to agree for A to be taught in a student support center at another school until the end of term.

She did not respond to the school’s request.

The school “permanently excluded” A from September 2018, and he was out of education until December 2018 when he started at another school.

In December 2019, Miss X told the council her son had been “assaulted on school grounds by an electrician”.

She was also worried he was not receiving all the special education provisions he needed.

The council later accepted that A did not have a teaching assistant for three months, had no speech and language therapy provision and that there was a delay in receiving his laptop.

Miss X withdrew A from a third school in September 2020 after he reported bullying.

The council told her the school could meet his needs, that it would not look for a different placement and that it expected A to return to the second school if he would not go back to the third.

The report found “significant delays” to reviews of A’s plan over the years. There was a delay of seven months from when the council should have told Miss X of its decision to amend A’s plan in March 2018 to when it issued a draft plan in November 2018.

The council should have issued the final amended plan by June 2018, but failed to do so before the next annual review in June 2019.

The council delayed issuing a decision after the annual review in June 2019, and did not send a draft plan until April 2020.

The council should have sent the final amended plan by September 2019, and failed to do so until July 2020 – a delay of 10 months.

The council has agreed to pay £ 2,600 for A likely loss of special education due to “significant delays” over 17 months in total.

The council must also pay Miss X £ 500 for the “distress, uncertainty and loss of opportunity caused to her by the faults identified”.

A Richmond Council spokesperson said: “The council’s Children’s Services provider, Achieving for Children, has apologized and provided compensation to Miss X.

“The Council responded to Miss X’s safeguarding concerns once she raised them in a timely and appropriate manner.

“However, Achieving for Children has recognized a fault in this case regarding the delay in special education provision, and has therefore apologized, and will take the agreed actions forward.”

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