Council pays out thousands to family after special needs problems

Endeavour House in Ipswich

Suffolk County Council has had to pay a family thousands of pounds after the ombudsman highlighted problems with its provision of special needs education to a brother and sister. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Suffolk County Council has been told to pay thousands of pounds to the parents of two children whose special needs requirements were not adequately met by the authority quickly enough.

The children, who are now aged 12 and 15, are from Needham Market. The ombudsman found that the boy, now 15, was not found suitable school provision between September 2019 and July 2020. His sister, now 12, missed out on education between October 2019 and March 2020.

The children were both diagnosed as being on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder but despite having many meetings with council officials their mother, Emma Eveleigh, said it took far too long to get them into appropriate schooling.

The girl's case was decided in July when the ombudsman found against the council and ordered it to pay £2,000 to Mrs Eveleigh as compensation and to help her daughter's education.

In the other finding, released earlier this month, Mrs Eveleigh was awarded just over £3,000 to provide special help for her son's education and £300 as compensation for the time and effort she had had to spend fighting her case.

The ombudsman felt that her son had not been offered enough education to support him.

He said: "I do not consider the alternative provision the Council offered - limited online learning in maths and English, and five hours a week of 1:1 tuition, which he could not access initially, and was not effectively provided when he could - to be close to a suitable full time education comparable to the hours and range of education his peers received at school."

Mrs Eveleigh said: "It's taken a long time to get here. There are still issues, but I am pleased we have got to this point with this particular issue."

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A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “We accept the rulings of this case and will fully comply with the terms in the report.

“We recognise that some of our provision for children and young people with special educational needs has not been good enough and we apologise to those families we have let down.

“We are working very hard to improve this and while we accept that some change will take time, we are prioritising this work and have seen improvement already.” 

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