Council told to pay parent £6,000 after girl out of school in Leeds for more than a year

Leeds City Council has been told to pay out £6,000 to a local parent after their daughter missed 18 months of education.

The pupil, who has special needs, stopped attending school in February 2022, but was not offered any alternative provision, a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said.

It’s the third time this year the council has had to pay a four-figure compensation sum to the family of a disabled child over failures within the system.

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The local authority is battling through a huge backlog of education health and care plans (EHCPs), which specify what tailored support children with special needs should get.

Civic Hall in Leeds.Civic Hall in Leeds.
Civic Hall in Leeds.

The Ombudsman’s report said the council had “accepted it should have either provided reintegration support or alternative provision” to the daughter of the complainant, who was referred to as ‘Mrs X’.

It added: “Mrs X’s daughter has missed four full terms of school and has therefore gone without any education or SEN (special educational needs) provision during this time.

“We therefore asked the council to make a payment to Mrs X of £1,500 for each of the four terms to remedy the injustice this caused.”

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During the investigation, the council also accepted there’d been a delay in issuing the girl’s ECHP, and offered to pay the family an additional £300 “to recognise the distress caused”.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “Leeds, like many local authorities, has experienced a significant increase in the number of children with complex special educational needs and disabilities, and Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

“Whilst we do not comment on individual cases, the council accepts the findings of the Ombudsman and has apologised to the family.

“The council is firmly committed to ensuring that all children living in Leeds have access to good quality and appropriate education.”

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In June, it was revealed the council had had to pay out £7,000 to the family of a special needs pupil after the Ombudsman found it had “lost control” of his education.

Then, last month, a further £1,500 was given to the family of a girl with complex needs, who had also missed a year-and-a-half of schooling.