North Northamptonshire Council to pay £1,500 for missing tuition for student with anxiety

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The authority says it accepts the ombudsman’s findings and has apologised to the family

A family will receive £1,500 as a ‘symbolic payment’ after a young girl missed part of her education as a result of her mental health condition.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) found North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) failed to provide extra support and tuition after the student started missing a considerable amount of time at mainstream school because of her anxiety disorder.

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NNC said it accepted the findings and the recommendations made by the LGO.

North Northants Council says it accepts the ombudsman's findings and has apologised to the familyNorth Northants Council says it accepts the ombudsman's findings and has apologised to the family
North Northants Council says it accepts the ombudsman's findings and has apologised to the family

It said that the young person should have received the full package of support nearly six months earlier when the council was first made aware of her repeated absences in December 2022. At this point, the school had called the council to ask for help.

Her mother complained to the council in January 2023, saying that her daughter hadn’t been attending school full-time for over a year due to emotionally based school avoidance.

She believed the council should have been aware of her absence and intervened sooner.

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NNC initially responded by saying that the school should be providing support and sending work home and suggested the family complain directly to the school.

The school initially made a referral to the hospital outreach education service which provided tutoring in English and computer studies.

The family arranged and paid for their daughter’s tuition in maths and science.

In May 2023, the council agreed on a ‘support package’ with the school and paid for 10 hours of tuition per week to work towards reintegrating the student into her lessons. This was because the support from the hospital service was time-limited and coming to an end.

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The ombudsman report wrote: “The council has not provided evidence to show that full-time education would not have been in G’s best interests for reasons of her physical or mental health, or that support in just two subjects was as much education as she could cope with.

“The council has not provided evidence to show why this level of support was not provided five months sooner, from the beginning of 2023.

"As a result, G missed a considerable amount of education. This is an injustice.”

The authority was told to pay £1,500 for not providing the full provision in her learning support and to acknowledge the tuition arranged and paid for by the family during this time.

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The LGO also recommended the council apologise to the family and review its policies and procedures for making alternative arrangements for children’s education.

Jason Smithers, leader of NNC, said: “North Northamptonshire Council accepts the findings of the ombudsman and would like to extend its sincerest apologies to the family for the failings identified in the delivery of education during what must have been a very difficult time.

“We will continue to support the family, the school and the home tutoring service to ensure that an appropriate education is made available which best meets needs.

“We will also take the learning from this case and use this to revisit our policies and procedures to ensure that these are appropriately updated to avoid any repeat of these issues.”