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Wirral teenager missed out on post-16 education because of council faults, Ombudsman finds

Wirral Council has been asked by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman to pay a teenager more than £4,000 after it failed to put in place proper educational provision for him.

The Ombudsman was asked to investigate by the teenager's mother after the council took too long to review her son's Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, leaving him without a place when he left his specialist school at the end of Year 12.

The teen, who has autism, had initially been offered a place at a mainstream college with a package of support, but before the start of the September term the college withdrew its offer.

The council later issued a final EHC plan in May the following year, but this plan still did not name a school for the teenager to attend.

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The Ombudsman's investigation found fault with the length of time it took the council to review the teenager's plan. It also criticised the council's record keeping from that time.

The council failed to conduct an annual review within the statutory timescales, and it failed to take decisions it should have in reviewing the teenager's EHC Plan, the Ombudsman found. As a result, it failed to identify he was out of education during the first national lockdown.

Following the findings, the council agreed to apologise and pay the teenager £4,400 to reflect the poor practice the Ombudsman identified. It will also pay the mother £250 to reflect her avoidable distress.

In addition, the council will complete its review of the annual EHC Plan review process, which is already underway, and arrange training with relevant officers.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: "Because of the faults I have identified, this teenager was left without an educational placement when he should have been starting the autumn term. The council did not follow the proper review process, so for a long time the boy's mother was not even able to use her appeal rights to the tribunal to see if the situation could be improved.

He added: "I'm pleased the council has accepted my findings, and hope the improvements it will now make will ensure other children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans are not affected in the same way."

Wirral Council has been approached for a statement.

Adam Carey

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