What recourse do I have when there are issues?
There are several ways that you can act in response to issues or to challenge decisions you do not agree with. The options you have will depend on the issue you are facing.
Parents should raise complaints directly with nurseries, schools and institutions in the first instance. All should have a complaints procedure.
All state-funded schools must have a complaints procedure to which parents can direct their complaints.
These procedures are typically in place relating to children and young people with SEN but without an EHC Plan.
Complaints to Ofsted
You can make complaints to Ofsted about a school or early years provider but it has to be about the whole school and not individual children. It should only be made after trying to resolve the issue through a school’s normal complaints procedure.
Post 16 institutions
Complaints at further education colleges can be made informally to the teacher, principal or through the complaints procedure. If this is not result, or the parent or young person is dissatisfied, they can take this up with the Skills Funding Agency.
Complaints at sixth-form colleges and other Education Funding Agency (EFA)-funded providers also can go through the teacher, principal and the formal complaints procedure. These are taken up with the EFA if not resolved.
Complaints to the LA
The LA must publish its complaints policy on its website. Parents and young people can make complaints to the LA in relation to matters with SEN and schools.
The LA has a responsibility to consider complaints about decisions relating to
- admissions to schools (except Voluntary Aided Schools)
- EHC needs assessments
- exclusion of pupils from schools
- child protection/allegations of child abuse
- complaints about the Governing Body of a school
- school transport
Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)
Investigates complaints against the LA where the complaint has not been resolved by the LA’s complaints procedures. It investigates the process by which the LA’s decisions are made and whether there has been maladministration. It does look at the decision-making process and the delivery of provision set out in EHCPs but it does not look at matters that can be appealed to Tribunal.
Parents and young people can make an application to the Administrative Court for Judicial Review where it is believed the LA has failed to deliver on its statutory duties. With EHCPs for example, this might be a review in which decisions were made that are reflected in the plan, rather than the content itself. Or failure to provide provision in Section F, or failure to meet time limits during the EHC needs assessment process.
It is to be used as route when other options have been exhausted.
Speak to us about how we can help with a pre-action letter ahead of Judicial Review.