The Local Government Ombudsman investigates complaints of injustice arising from poor administration by local authorities. They are able to consider the role of the school as part of a wider complaint against the local authority. They currently consider complaints about the following areas.
Special Educational Needs
You cannot complain to the Ombudsman about whether or not a local authority decides to assess your child, because this is a matter for the SEND Tribunal. However, you can complain about the school's role in:
- any delay in assessment
- a failure to carry out the provision set out in the statement or education, health and care plan (EHCP)
- a failure to carry out an annual review
The Local Government Ombudsman also may be able to look at what the school has done in response to your child's special educational needs at school action plan, as long as you have previously complained to the local authority.
If you are refused the school place you asked for and you want to pursue the matter, the first thing you need to do is to make an appeal to an independent appeal panel.
The Ombudsman is not another level of appeal and cannot question decisions if they were taken properly and fairly by the admissions authority or appeal panel.
You can complain if:
- you think a place at a school was refused because of some unfairness or mistake by the admissions authority
- you think your appeal was handled incorrectly
- you have asked for an appeal and the admissions authority has not arranged an appeal hearing for you within a reasonable time
You cannot complain to the Ombudsman if the complaint is about an academy (unless that academy has transferred from a maintained school during the admissions process), independent (private) school or city technology college.
If your child has an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or statement of special educational needs (SEN), you can appeal to the SEND tribunal. The Ombudsman could consider a complaint about any delay by a council in arranging an offer of a place at a school once the final statement has been issued.
Permanent exclusion from a school
The Ombudsman cannot look at any aspect of an exclusion prior to an appeal. If you would like to complain about your child being excluded, you should first complain to the independent review panel.
When a decision has been reached by the independent review panel, you can complain to the Ombudsman about the way in which the independent review panel has dealt with your case.
Once a child has been permanently excluded, the council has a duty to provide alternative education, and the Ombudsman can look into how the council has carried out this duty.
Initially if you have a complaint in regard to the above, then you can approach the Local Authority via their website and begin the stage 1 complaint. This may lead to a stage 2 and if unresolved, you can complain to the Ombudsman.