Council needs to review whether children have lost out on school places
Bolton MBC should check whether any children have missed out on a place at their preferred school after the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) upheld a complaint about its schools allocation process.
A mother, whose son was due to start school in September 2015, contacted the LGO when an appeal about her son’s school place was not upheld.
The investigation found Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council changed the way it decided schools admissions mid-way through the application process, and without consulting people.
The council uses distance from the chosen school as the main criterion. Previously, where there was a tie for a place it would allocate any remaining places to those children whose alternate school would be the greatest distance from their homes. However, midway through the round of allocations in December 2014 – seven months too late - the council decided to simply draw lots to determine the places.
The LGO investigation found fault with the way the council changed its admissions arrangements.
In the individual case, the investigation found the council was at fault for allocating the children a place by drawing lots. However, it was clear that the boy would not have been allocated a place at the school requested even if the proper process has been followed.
Dr Jane Martin, Local Government Ombudsman, said:
“When making changes to policies which affect a wide number of people it is only right and fair that such changes are made with consultation and at the start of the process so that parents have a level playing field when applying for school places.
“I have taken the unusual step of issuing this report where the individual parent has not suffered an injustice, to highlight that other parents in the area may have been affected by the incorrect application of the allocation process.
“I am pleased that Bolton council has accepted my recommendations, and would urge other councils to ensure that they do not make the same mistakes.”
To remedy the complaint, the council has agreed to check whether any parent lost a school place in its area for September 2015 because of its use of the incorrectly amended admissions arrangements. If any parent has lost a place for their child, they should be offered a place.
The Ombudsman is satisfied the arrangements for 2016-17 have been properly determined.
Latest News from
Draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill laid in Parliament05/12/2016 12:37:21
A new complaints body will provide the public with greater confidence that their voices have been heard.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II09/09/2022 15:05:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman joins the nation in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Milton Keynes did not do enough to support woman09/09/2022 09:15:00
A Milton Keynes woman who agreed to care for a relative’s child when they no longer could, is to be offered £30,000 after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the council did not do enough to help ease their overcrowded living conditions.
Councils cannot allow multiple care home contracts to run in tandem02/09/2022 09:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman is cautioning councils against allowing the care homes they work with to have subsidiary contracts with clients following a complaint about Leeds City Council.
Ombudsman issues guidance on care finance decisions25/08/2022 12:10:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has today issued guidance to councils on the often-complex issue of Deprivation of Capital decisions.
Ribble Valley had no policy on supporting disabled people to use its services18/08/2022 16:15:00
A Lancashire authority was more than a decade late in setting out how it makes adjustments to its services for disabled people, an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
Hampshire council did not arrange transport for boy with special needs in time12/08/2022 11:15:00
Hampshire County Council expected a young child with special educational needs to travel on their own in a taxi to school – or face a three-hour round-trip in shared transport.
Liverpool criticised by Ombudsman for failing disabled teenage siblings05/08/2022 09:15:00
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Liverpool City Council for not ensuring two teenage siblings with significant needs were provided with the support they should have received for 18 months.
Ombudsman annual review of complaints: the power to change27/07/2022 15:05:00
As it increasingly focuses on making wide-ranging recommendations to better council services, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has directed more improvements to local councils in the past year than ever before.