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Hampshire County Council apologises to mother and pays compensation for Special Educational Needs faults

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has been ordered to apologise and pay a mother thousands in compensation and review its Special Educational Needs (SEN) service.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman stepped in to demand improvements to the council’s SEN offering after it upheld a complaint by the unnamed woman.

She spoke up after her son missed three months of education and special educational needs support because HCC delayed issuing his amended education, health and care (EHC) plan.

Hampshire County Council was fined and apologised to the complainant
Hampshire County Council was fined and apologised to the complainant

The mother said her son, who has autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had been attending mainstream primary school with 25-hours-a-week one-to-one support.

When it became apparent the boy could no longer attend, the council did not act quickly enough to put in place alternative education.

As a result, he had three months of inadequate SEN provision, followed by three months of missed education.

The ombudsman’s investigation found the council delayed the statutory process, and wrongly told the mother the EHC plan could be issued more quickly if she withdrew her comments.

It also found the council "did not do enough" to provide alternative education for the boy while it waited for a place to become available at a suitable school.

The mother lost chances to appeal the council’s actions at a tribunal, it added, because HCC did not explain her rights.

An HCC spokesperson said it had complied with all the recommendations set out by the ombudsman, including offering a formal apology and £3,300 compensation.

"We have also made improvements to our special educational needs and disability service processes and practices to ensure that, going forward, agreed changes to EHC plans are made promptly, so that the final plan is issued as quickly as possible, and within the statutory deadlines," the spokesperson added.

"We always try to do our level best to get things right first time for Hampshire residents, and we take all complaints very seriously.

"Where we haven’t been able to resolve things directly with the member of the public, we work closely with the ombudsman to resolve any issues raised and improve our services along the way."

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