National Ombudsmen
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Herts teen left without proper SEND support for three years

A teenager on the autism spectrum was left without a significant proportion of his agreed special educational needs support for up to three years by Hertfordshire County Council, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.

The teenager, who attends a mainstream secondary school, should have received a range of support according to his Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This included four hours of academic support every half term. However between September 2020 and July 2021 he received less than three hours in total.

The boy also needed help with his social skills but this was not provided at all over the same time, or during an earlier period between September 2018 and April 2019.

The council also failed to provide the assessed support for his emotional wellbeing, resulting in nothing being in place between May 2019 and March 2020, and it not being fully provided until March 2021.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:

“For many children and young people with autism spectrum conditions, emotional and social help can be just as important to their wellbeing as the academic assistance they should receive.

“In this case, the boy’s mother has told us this loss of support has left her son distressed, with low self-esteem and feeling socially isolated. He struggles to access learning in the classroom as he approaches a key point in his education.

“I am pleased the council has accepted the faults I have found during my investigation, and hope the lengthy recommendations it will comply with should help this boy and others like him in the county.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services. In this case the council has agreed to apologise to the boy and his family and pay them £500 to recognise their frustration and distress. It will also pay the teenager £2,900 for the special education provision he lost and a further £250 for the uncertainty of what provision he might have further been entitled to between May and July 2020.

The council has also agreed to arrange for the boy to receive an extra 24 hours of one-to-one support with a subject specialist in each of his four core subject areas to account for the time he missed, and arrange for a senior officer to review the provision now in place for the boy to ensure it continues to be delivered properly.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve processes for the wider public. In this case the council has agreed to remind officers of their duties and the requirements placed upon them when working with children and young people who have EHC Plans.



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