Croydon families win compensation after council failed to find school places
TAXPAYERS face a £6,500 compensation bill after Croydon Council failed to find two teenagers a school place during a critical stage of their education.
A damning report by the Local Government Ombudsman has revealed the youngsters missed half a year of education when they should have been studying for their GCSEs, because the council failed to place them in a school within the agreed period of 20 days.
Dr Jane Martin, the Local Government Ombudsman, said in her report: "The council did not allocate places for either child for more than six months after the complainant made her in-year application. While there were reasons this was not possible, the council should have offered alternative educational provision. It did not do so."
A mother, referred to in the report as Miss Rose, moved to Croydon last year and made an application for school places for her son and her sister, for whom she had parental responsibility after the death of her mother.
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However, the council failed to find the year 10 students school places for six months, meaning they missed much of their GCSE studying and according to the report "created unnecessary anxiety for the family".
The report goes on to say: "My investigator interviewed Miss Rose. She said her sister had had to spend three hours each evening copying up GCSE work she had missed during the six months she was without education when she started her new school.
"She said this included science experiments she had not done and was additional to the other homework set by the school.
"She said this was likely to depress her final GCSE grades. She also said the additional pressure would deprive her of chances to mix socially as she would have to work harder in order to achieve good passes."
Miss Rose told the Ombudsman the council's failure had meant the grades of her sister and her son, who had special needs, would suffer.
The report said: "She said that his chances of achieving the grades he needed to follow his chosen career had been reduced.
"She said he had not been able to continue with the same subjects he previously studied because they were not offered at the tuition centre he was attending."
The council's executive director for children, families and learning Paul Greenhalgh said: "We successfully process tens of thousands of school applications every year, but clearly in this case we were at fault.
"I'd like to say unreservedly how sorry we are to this family who were caused unnecessary anxiety and pressure.
"And I'd like to assure parents that lessons have been learned and that we have since tightened up our procedures to ensure that such a situation does not happen again."