Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Two-year pupil exclusion 'unjust'

Hand up in class
The pupil did not go to school between 2004 and September 2006

Children's services at a county council have been criticised after it was revealed that a 12-year-old boy did not receive schooling for almost two years.

West Sussex County Council was found guilty of "maladministration with injustice" by the Local Government Ombudsman over the case.

It said they failed to gain the child's trust and threatened care proceedings after the pupil was excluded in 2004.

The council said it had implemented the Ombudsman's recommendations.

The unnamed 12-year-old did not attend lessons for almost two years until September 2006, apart from a short period in a pupil referral unit, after he was temporarily excluded from school in 2004.

The Council has already implemented the Ombudsman's recommendations to put things right for the complainant
West Sussex County Council

The Local Government Ombudsman report followed a complaint about the level of help the child received from the council.

It found West Sussex council delayed making it clear the pupil could not return to their original school and provided inadequate help while the child was not attending lessons.

Its initial social care assessment was inadequate and was not written up or followed through, the report also found.

The report to the council's Children and Young People's Services Select Committee said: "This individual case is sadly an example of the difficulties that the social care service has experienced, resulting in an Ofsted annual performance assessment judgment of 'inadequate' for its 2007/08 performance.

"Since April 2008, the county council has worked hard to support children's services in responding to this area of difficulty."

Educational fund

The Ombudsman has recommended that an educational fund is set up for the child and that some expenses and a small payment for the distress caused are paid to the complainant.

Other recommendations include making sure staff adopt a "culture of listening to and engaging in dialogue with children".

West Sussex council issued a statement, which said it was the "first such finding for over seven years".

It continued: "The council has already implemented the Ombudsman's recommendations to put things right for the complainant.

"The Ombudsman has also recommended reviews of procedures in order to learn from what happened."

The council also said the results of its review would be made to the Children and Young People's Services Select Committee on 11 March.

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