Laura Sharman 02 July 2020

County increases scrutiny of its special educational needs services

Norfolk County Council has agreed to regular scrutiny of its services for children with special educational needs after the ombudsman found it 'failed' the same boy twice.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman had previously issued a report in October 2018 after it found the council had failed to provide a boy with suitable education for eight months.

The ombudsman was asked to investigate again as he was left without proper education for nearly four months after his school placement broke down.

As a result, councillors will be provided with regular detailed analysis of the council’s special educational needs services.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: 'When we published our last report about the family’s situation, the council made steps to improve its services, but it is clear more could be done to learn from its mistakes.

'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.'

Cllr John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'We accept all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations, have apologised to the family and paid compensation. We have issued an up to date EHCP and are confident that Y is getting the right support and education.

'This case reflects the national pressure that all local authorities across the country are experiencing when it comes to meeting the ever increasing demand from families for SEND support for their children.

'Like other local authorities, we have found it difficult to keep up with increasing demand in this area and we are sorry for that. But we have pledged to work with our health and education partners – and of course families – to improve services for children with special educational needs in our county and we have an ambitious strategy to address it, which Ofsted inspectors recognised in a recent report.'

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