Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds City Council payout over bullied girl's 'missed education'

Primary school pupils putting their hands up during a lesson Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Leeds City Council eventually provided alternative education earlier this year

A 10-year-old girl was left without a school for almost a year by a council after she stopped attending because she was bullied.

The girl was told to go home in March 2018 after becoming distressed and highly anxious, a watchdog said.

Leeds City Council was ordered to pay her mum nearly £3,000 after it "failed to have a policy in place for children missing education due to ill health".

It apologised and said it was "taking action to resolve the issues".

A report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found the child had "sensory processing difficulties" and was waiting to be assessed for autism.

Her mother had to fund an alternative education placement, the report said.

The council eventually provided alternative education in February 2019. By then the girl, who is now 11, had missed nine months of school terms, a period during which the report said she was "left to drift".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Leeds City Council said it was an 'incredibly challenging case'

According to her mother, the lack of schooling had also impacted on the youngster's "social and emotional wellbeing".

The council was told to pay the girl's mother £1,300 to cover costs of providing alternative education, another £1,400 for having failed to assess her daughter's needs and provide schooling, and a final £200 to compensate for the time and trouble of raising the complaint.

Recommendations were made for the council to review its policies and train staff.

Michael King, from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: "Leeds City Council did not have the proper processes in place, and the lack of a policy resulted in a young girl missing nine months of formal education.

"Instead of receiving an alternative at the earliest possible time, her case was left to drift."

Steve Walker, director of children and families at the council, said: "We recognise we did not do enough, and therefore I would like to apologise to the girl and her family for this."

He said it was "an incredibly challenging case" and professionals had been in contact with the girl and her family "at all times".

The authority said it had taken on board the recommendations and would learn lessons from the case.

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