Ombudsman publishes report after looking at SEND complaints in Dorset

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has published a report after an investigation found that Dorset County Council had failed to provide suitable provision for a child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The complaint was made after the family involved felt the council had failed to ensure their child received the provision detailed in his Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and arrange suitable alternative provision.

The complaint was upheld, and the ombudsman has issued a public report after investigating similar previous cases concerning the county council.

The newly-formed Dorset Council is now acting upon the recommendations in the report and is also working hard to improve the way it supports children and families with SEND – including investing in, and securing more, alternative education provision in Dorset for children with complex needs.

Cllr Andrew Parry, portfolio holder for children, education and early help at Dorset Council, said: “We fully accept the ombudsman’s findings and apologise to the family for the stress and disruption caused, particularly to the young person involved. Improving our SEND services is a priority for the new Dorset Council. We have a new director and new head of education & learning and are working with schools to provide more alternative education for children with additional needs in Dorset. We’re also reviewing our internal processes to improve the way we support families. We have a lot of work to do but we’re determined to make things better for children and families.”

Earlier this year, the Leader of Dorset Council, Cllr Spencer Flower, wrote to the Secretary of State to highlight the ‘impossible’ situation councils face without additional funding. Cllr Parry added: “Like other councils, we’re in a situation where the funding we receive from Government just doesn’t match the increasing demand. We have been pushing MPs for more money, so our children and young people can receive the support they need and deserve.”

As well as acting upon all the recommendations within the report, the  council will also continue with its own improvement plan.

Read the ombudsman’s report