East Sussex County Council issues apology to girl’s family after Ombudsman investigation

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The county council has agreed to consider improving the records it keeps of meetings about school non-attendance following an Ombudsman investigation.

As part of the investigation, the council has also been told to apologise to the family of a girl who missed days of schooling because she said she had been bullied, after it could not prove it gave proper consideration to a mother’s allegations about the bullying when she said this was the reason for her daughter’s non-attendance.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman asked the council to provide the apology after an investigation into a complaint by the girl’s mother found the council had caused the family distress by the insensitive way it handled her non-attendance at school.

Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “While councils must take understandably robust action when dealing with regular non-attendance at schools, they must also be receptive to parents’ explanations when they present justifiable reasons for their children’s absences.

“The family in this case were left feeling upset that their reasons were not considered properly.

“The mother says she felt bullied by the system which was supposed to help and support her daughter.

“I am pleased the council has now both apologised to the mother for its actions and agreed to consider a review of its recordkeeping in these situations, following the report.”

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s role is to remedy injustice and share learning from investigations to help improve public, and adult social care, services.

In this case, the council has apologised in writing to the mother and her daughter.

The Ombudsman has the power to make recommendations to improve a council’s processes for the wider public.