Council let same child ‘fall through the cracks’ of education twice, watchdog rules

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council has paid hundreds of pounds to a family after allowing the same child to “fall through the cracks” of the education system twice.

The family, who are being kept anonymous, was forced to pay for home schooling out of their own pockets for the boy after it became clear the school he was attending could not meet his needs.

And despite a child psychologist reporting this to County Hall, an alternative placement was not found, leaving the family to make their own arrangement at their own expense.

Now, after the family complained to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), the council has apologised and paid £1,650 to them - £1,400 for the seven months the child was without an education and a further £250 in compensation for the distress caused.

The Ombudsman also recommended the council provide more regular updates to its committee members on the number of children out of education in the county - and those at risk of having their education break down.

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This particular investigation related to a four-month period in 2019, however, it was not the first time the Ombudsman has investigated the council over the education of the same child.

READ MORE: ‘Failed and forgotten’ - are a generation of children in Norfolk being let down?Michael King, of the LGSCO, said: “I am concerned Norfolk County Council has again failed this boy and not provided him with an education appropriate for his needs, despite being made aware the school he was attending was no longer suitable.

“When we published our last report about the family’s situation [in 2018] the council made steps to improve its services, but it is clear more could be done to learn from its mistakes.

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“I hope that by increasing the level of scrutiny from councillors, a way can be found to ensure other children and their families do not fall through the cracks as has happened in this case.”

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at County Hall said: “We want all children in Norfolk to get a good education so we are very sorry this child has not received this.

“We accept all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations and have apologised to the family and paid compensation.”

READ MORE: ‘Not what I want for Norfolk’s children’ - council admits SEND weakness

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