Just received: a press release from the LGO, who is so concerned at the percentage rise in complaints about EHCPs, and in the proportion of complaints he upholds, that he has issued a special Focus Report on the failings of the SEND system.
“Children with special educational needs and disabilities are increasingly being failed by the system designed to support them, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has found.
In its latest report about the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan process, the Ombudsman has revealed it is now upholding nearly nine out of every 10 (87%) cases it investigates – a startling figure compared with its uphold rate of 57% across all cases it looks at, discounting SEND cases.
The new report, ‘Not going to plan?’ looks at the common problems the Ombudsman is finding when investigating parents’ concerns. Serious issues include severe delays of up to 90 weeks – and regularly of more than a year – when issuing a plan, not anticipating local needs, communication and preparation for meetings, and a lack of oversight by senior staff.”
Full details here: www.lgo.org.uk/information-centre/news/2019/oct/a-system-in-crisis-ombudsman-complaints-about-special-educational-needs-at-alarming-level and in the report itself, downloadable as a PDF via a link on this web page.
The report is only 29 pages long Read especially the Ombudsman’s Foreward from which this is an extract:
“… a system beset with serious problems, including:
> Severe delays – of up to 90 weeks but regularly more than a year
> Poor planning and anticipation of needs– such as council areas simply without any specialist provision available to them
> Poor communication and preparation for meetings – including regular stories of nonattendance and no, or insufficient, paperwork submitted
> Inadequate partnership working – with EHC plans regularly issued without advice from health or social care services
> Lack of oversight from senior managers – cases ‘drifting’ needlessly and attempts to farm out responsibilities to parents”
One particularly concerning development over the last two years has been examples we’ve seen of councils putting up additional barriers to services in efforts to ration scarce resources.
While sympathetic to the severe financial constraints which councils tell us they are working under, we can never accept this as an excuse for failing to meet the statutory rights of children.”
Also worth noting is the concluding section entitled “Scrutiny and the role of councillors” where the ombudsman, Michael King, lists the questions that councillors should be asking about their local authority (and, by implication, have not been asking).