Norfolk County Council’s SEN provision criticised

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has criticised Norfolk County Council’s provision for children with special educational needs (SEN) following two investigations.

In the first case, a mother complained the council did not provide her son with suitable education provision for nearly two academic years, and took nearly 46 weeks to complete his Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan - twice the statutory timescale. She also complained the council provided her with very little support during the time her son was not receiving full-time education.

In the second case, a boy’s EHC Plan took 26 weeks to produce, and when the boy was excluded from school, the council did not provide him with suitable education provision, causing him to miss out on full-time education for eight months.

Alongside the two investigations, the Ombudsman has revealed it had already upheld nine similar complaints against the councils.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “We have issued a focus report on out-of-school education provision for children, and on councils’ use of Education, Health and Care Plans, and expect councils to use these to scrutinise, learn from and improve the services they provide to children in their areas.

“In both cases these children were without the vital support and provision they needed at crucial times of their education. I hope the remedies the council has agreed will go some way to repairing the damage done. We welcome the proactive steps the council is now taking to improve its provision and oversight of services for children with SEN, and hope this will ensure children will get the support they need in future.”

Norfolk County Council has announced that it is investing £1.5 million to double the size of its specialist education team and speed up assessments for EHCPs, following £120 million of council investment in specialist school places.

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