Hertfordshire County Council has failed to agree to Ombudsman's recommendations to improve after a Herts primary school admitted it had discriminated against a little boy due to his disabilities. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman was asked to investigate by the young boy’s parents after the council did not acknowledge that there had been a problem with the support provided.
The boy was entitled to one-on-one support, including specialist speech and language therapy, which could only take place if he attended school full-time. However, the young boy was reportedly offered a part-time timetable, where he received around half the hours he should have received.
The youngster was expected to begin reception in September 2020, but matters quickly took a turn for the worse as on his first day the school told his parents they would have to collect him at 11am as it had not put in place the support he needed showing a lack of care, according to his Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
According to the Ombudsman, the school later expelled the boy because of his behaviour, which was linked to his unsupported needs, leading the boy’s parents to ask the council to provide tutoring at home. The Ombudsman found that the council took too long to put this in place and did not provide enough hours for a full-time education.
The boy did not have full-time education for the whole of his Reception year, receiving about half of the hours he could have expected. The Ombudsman also found there was no evidence the boy needed a reduced timetable, and the decision was made by the school simply because it did not employ enough staff.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, was disappointed in the council for ignoring the recommendations to "put things right" for the agonised family. He said: “The school has already admitted that this little boy was treated differently to his classmates purely because of his disability.