A young man who has been left without formal education since at least 2021 will be compensated a total £8,700 by Surrey County Council (SCC) due to the distress caused. SCC has offered to pay the complainant and his mother extra compensation after a watchdog investigation into delays.

The young man, named Mr M in a Local Government and Social Ombudsman report, complained his Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment did not ask for the full range of professionals needed to complete the evaluation. His mother, Mrs M, also complained of the distress caused by poor communication and record keeping by SCC as meeting notes were not filed.

The report, published March 28, 2024, said: “The symbolic payments the Council has suggested are not enough for the injustice caused by the faults […] Mr M and Mrs M have been put to unnecessary time and trouble.”

Following the ombudsman’s report SCC has agreed to pay £7,500 for Mr M’s missed education between 2021 and September 2022. As Mr M missed five terms of education, £600 payment for missed speech and language therapy sessions was recommended by the social ombudsmen.

Letters of apology were sent to Mr M and Mrs M in September 2023, offering £300 each in recognition of any anxiety or distress caused by the delays. A further £2,700 was offered to Mr M in recognition of missed education from December 2021 to be used for educational purposes, and £360 for 4.5 hours (three terms’ worth) of missed speech and language therapy sessions.

Unable to cope with mainstream education, Mrs M said her son has been out of school since 2019. However, due to the time lapsed the ombudsman has not investigated the history of these complaints.

Mr M has had an EHC Plan since December 2021 (then aged 16), but was told by council officers that home tuition was an interim measure whilst he was too unwell to attend formal education. It was intended to review the academic package by the 2022 Summer term but this was delayed.

Offered a home learning tutorial service in March 2022, Mr M (aged 18) was reportedly unable to engage with any educational service until some mental health support was provided.

SCC failed in its statutory duty to formally review Mr M’s EHC plan within a year, as a decision on the plan was not issued until August 2023, creating a delay of around eight months. As this was only meant to be an interim EHC plan, the total delay was 13 months.

Records were not always kept of meetings, causing confusion; for instance, SCC officers met with the family with the intent of reviewing the plan but did not follow the correct process. No formal invitation was given to the family by officers, who did not follow the timescales or issue the correct review paperwork.

SCC is unable to comment on individual families and related ombudsman outcomes, however, the local authority said it could confirm it has satisfied the Ombudsman’s recommendations for this matter.