A watchdog has rapped council bosses for a delay in getting an essential education plan in place for a 14-year-old girl and dithering about how to tackle her non-attendance at school.

Norfolk County Council has been told to pay £1,400 to the teenager's mother for its failure to complete the education, health and care plan quickly enough.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman added the council should pay a further £200 because of uncertainty caused by "inadequate action" addressing the youngster's non-attendance at school.

The girl, identified as D in the ombudsman report, had been under assessment for ADHD, plus social, emotional and mental health needs.

Her mother - referred to as Miss C - asked the council to assess her daughter for an education, health and care plan - a legal document describing their needs and outlining how they will be met - in May 2022.

The council agreed, but its psychologist did not meet D until November last year, missing the mid-September deadline.

In February this year, the council issued a plan saying it felt D's needs could be met in her current school.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council's Martineau Lane headquartersNorfolk County Council's Martineau Lane headquarters

Her mother complained to the ombudsman. She said from September last year, D had only gone to school twice a week and after October, felt unable to go at all, except for a single day.

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The ombudsman found no evidence either Miss C or her daughter's school told the council about D's absence before November 2022.

But, once the council was aware, the ombudsman found there was "not enough clarity and co-ordination", with the authority failing to check any education D was receiving at home was appropriate.

It also found the council, which has been trying to improve EHC plan times, was at fault for missing the plan deadline.

The council was told to make payments to Miss C to use "for D’s educational benefit".

Eastern Daily Press: Penny Carpenter, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's servicesPenny Carpenter, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services (Image: Norfolk Conservatives)

Penny Carpenter, cabinet member for children's services, said: "Inspectors have told us that things are improving in Norfolk but we know that there is more to do and we sympathise with parents, who we know want the best for their children."