Council apologises and agrees to pay out £14,500 after failing to meet autistic boy’s educational needs

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Bucks County Council will pay out £14,500 after an ombudsman found they failed to meet the educational needs of an autistic teenager.

Local Government Ombudsman Anne Seex found the council did not provide enough education for the 15-year-old boy for almost a year.

The boy, known as Z, has been looked after by his grandparents since the age of seven.

At 13 he stopped attending school because of anxiety related to autism.

His GP referred him to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service which told the council that he was autistic and would be unable to cope in a mainstream school.

For almost a year the only teaching Z received was 5.5 hours per week from the mental health service.

During this period, his grandparents had to take on the task of caring for him almost full time.

Ms Seex found that although the council was aware from March 2010 Z had special educational needs, it did not assess these.

Nor did it tell his grandmother that she could ask for an assessment. Eventually she found out and requested one. He was assessed in November 2010 and found to need specialist education, but he did not start at a special school until April 2011.

Ms Seex said: “There is no evidence that the council ever tried to establish what education would be suitable for him and what he could cope with in his medical condition.”

She ordered the council to pay £12,405 for Z’s future educational needs. The figure equals the cost of privately educating Z during his ‘missed’ year.

The council must also pay the grandparents £2,000 compensation.

Mike Appleyard, Buckinghamshire County Council deputy leader and cabinet member for education and skills, said: ‘Buckinghamshire County Council understands the findings of the Local Government Ombudsman’s report.

“We will be offering an apology and we are also implementing all the recommendations the ombudsman has suggested.’