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‘It will not happen again’ - pledge as boy left out of school for seven months

PUBLISHED: 18:00 03 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:00 03 August 2020

Sara Tough (left) and John Fisher. Picture: Norfolk County Council/Julian Claxton Photography.

Sara Tough (left) and John Fisher. Picture: Norfolk County Council/Julian Claxton Photography.

Copyright (c) Julian Claxton Photography 2017.

A council which allowed a child to go without education for seven months has vowed to families not to let it happen again.

Norfolk County Council (NCC) paid £1,650 to a family who were forced to pay for homeschooling out of their own pockets after their son “fell through the cracks” of the education system twice.

And now children’s services bosses have pledged improvement is taking place and told parents “communication will improve”.

It came after the boy’s family made a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) - who had previously investigated NCC over the same child’s education before.

The council’s renewed apology came after the ombudsman’s annual report to the council found “continued concerns” about its responses to investigations and a “wider issue” at the authority.

READ MORE: Watchdog has ‘continued concerns’ about council social care, report shows

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, held on Monday, August 3, director of children’s services, Sara Tough, said: “We would like to reiterate our apology to the family in this report.

And she added: “We will have a written statement of action in response to our Ofsted report and that will be overseen by an improvement board. The plan will come to cabinet accordingly.”

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While John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I just reiterate the comments made by the director and the fact that we do apologise.

“We are not happy when these things come to the board but I personally have been in touch with Ms X who featured in the report and the recommendations are beginning to be in hand.”

READ MORE: Council let same child ‘fall through the cracks’ of education twice, watchdog rules

He added: “We will be reporting to the people select committee as per the requirements of the ombudsman. I would like to try and reassure parents that this situation will not happen again.

“We are on top of this situation and what to do in this situation.

“I’m confident communication will improve as a result of that and as will our performance.”

The ombudsman’s report, which was published last month, found “Ms X and [her son] Y suffered an injustice as a result of fault”.

It also found a delay in updating Y’s education, health and care plan “caused Ms X and her family distress and put them to significant time and trouble”.

In a report to the cabinet, the council said it would review its decisions and communication, as well as providing the people and communities select committee with regular progress updates.

READ MORE: ‘Failed and forgotten’ - are a generation of our children being let down?


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