Leicestershire girl left without school place awarded £7,200

Leicestershire girl left without school place awarded £7,200

A teenager left without a school place for more than a year when her family moved home has been awarded £7,200 in compensation.

Leicestershire County Council agreed to pay the sum and apologised to the girl, who was without formal education from January 2019 to February 2020.

The girl’s mother said she was left with “no GCSEs” and “no confidence”.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman said the girl’s application was allowed to “drift”.

A report published by the ombudsman said the family had moved from the city of Leicester into Leicestershire in 2019 when the girl was 15 and in Year 10.

It found that despite repeated applications to the council for places at two different schools the requests were “subject to significant drift”.

The girl was finally offered a place in June 2020, but she missed four school terms and has since left education with no qualifications.

Speaking to the BBC, her mother, who did not wish to be named, said: “Her mental state’s been affected.

“She has no confidence; she hardly leaves the house.

“She wanted to be a midwife but now she’s so unconfident. She’s got so many steps to jump through.

“If she had an education, which she was entitled to, she would have already made those steps.”

The ombudsman found the situation arose because there were no places at nearby academy schools.

It said that although the county council has no direct authority over academies’ admissions, the council did not use the powers it had to compel the academies to take action.

It also did not do enough to ensure alternative arrangements were put in place during a “critical time” in the girl’s education.

It added: “This caused [the girl] significant injustice, with possible long-term consequences arising from her academic disadvantage.”

The council has been ordered to pay the family £7,200 for the girl’s “educational benefit”, and also pay her mother £300 for “avoidable time and trouble caused by the council’s inability to resolve her complaint locally”.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “This case highlights the problems many parents and councils now face following the widespread academisation of schools.

“Academies have their own admissions arrangements, and councils have limited powers to ensure the admissions of pupils in those schools.

“It is therefore essential councils use those powers to ensure pupils are not without education for any longer than absolutely necessary.”

He added that he welcomed “proactive steps” the council had taken to improve its services.

Councillor Deborah Taylor, the county council’s lead member for children and families, apologised for the “unacceptable delays” to the girl’s education.

“We have agreed to pay a sum of money to be used for her educational benefit, along with some compensation to her mother for any distress and confusion caused,” she added.

The authority said it would review procedures around school admissions, with refresher training for officers, and that it would remind schools and academies in the county “of their duties around the registration of new pupils”.

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