Children’s reading society pays £13,000 because girl doesn’t have GCSEs

Reading Borough Council’s children’s business will pay a total of £13,000 after an autistic schoolgirl was left with zero GCSEs due to poor mental health.

Trouble for the family began in December 2018 when the girl stopped attending the private school she was enrolled in due to severe anxiety.

This resulted in the daughter, who has autism, leaving school without GCSEs, being absent from Christmas School from Year 9 to the end of Year 11.

The mum argued her daughter had suffered a ‘serious injustice’ and felt she could have left school with GCSEs if her daughter had been properly supported.

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Trouble for the family began in December 2018 when the girl stopped attending the private school she was enrolled in due to severe anxiety.

Although families may choose to home school their children, the board has an obligation to provide education for children who cannot attend school for health or other reasons.

The mother argued that the board did not specify this obligation.

The council has already paid £6,223.37 to reimburse the mum for tutoring payments and her failure to assess her needs.

The compensation was paid following the council’s Phase 2 investigation into the complaint, completed in May 2021, which admitted that the council should have explored an alternative form of education for the girl, as it was clear that her medical condition meant that she could not go to school.

However, the mother felt the payment was not enough as her daughter had dropped out of education during the crucial GCSE years.

She also argued that the council failed to provide alternative education options for the girl.

The mother therefore asked the Local Government and Social Welfare Ombudsman (LGSO) to investigate.

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The mediator found in favor of the mother, agreeing that the council had failed to provide alternative child-rearing options and that the family had suffered an injustice

To address this, the council has agreed to change its materials to include information for parents of children who are in the same situation, including those whose children are being privately educated.

The council also agreed to pay an additional £6,776.63, bringing the total payment to £13,000.

The ombudsman said this extra payment should be used for girl n for any additional support, education and training outside of those identified in her education, health and care plan (EHCP).

A spokesperson for Brighter Futures for Children, the council’s independent children’s services company, said: ‘We fully accept the findings of the local government and social services ombudsman in this case and the agreed full payment has been made.

“We are currently working on updating our homeschooling policy and related documents, to take into account the findings of the Ombudsman and this will be published within the specified timeframe.”