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LGO ruling on access to education

January 15, 2019

Action for M.E. has been working with 16-year-old Maddie, who lives in Hayle, Cornwall, where the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) has made a ruling against the Council about her lack of access to education. The ruling was just recently published online.

Maddie has M.E., the most common health-related cause of long-term school absence. Like many young people with this serious neurological illness, she has been unable to attend school full-time, and needs support to access education appropriate to her needs – but this has been a considerable challenge.

The LGO’s ruling notes that:

  • Cornwall Council was made aware Maddie was attending school on a part-time basis in mid-February 2017, yet it failed to act until October 2017. As a result, Maddie missed out on six months of full-time school.
  • This reduced provision and lack of support has had a considerable impact on Maddie’s mental health and self-esteem, on top of the considerable challenges presented by the complex symptoms of M.E.
  • The school did not provide Cornwall Council with full details of Maddie’s circumstances and provision in March 2017.
  • There is little to suggest the information provided by the school was inaccurate or incomplete. Nevertheless, there is evidence of unnecessary and avoidable delay (approximately eight weeks in total) in their request for an education and health care plan which can be attributed to the Council.
  • Cornwall Council has agreed to take steps to address the faults set out in the ruling.

Action for M.E. is working with Maddie to get national recognition of the lack of education for children with health problems and disabilities. Our Head of Children’s Services, Mary-Jane Willow, has been working with the Health Conditions in Schools Alliance (HCSA) which is made up of representatives of a number of health charities. The HCSA will shortly be meeting Ofsted to challenge them to inspect a school’s policy on medical conditions and the wellbeing of students educated part-time or off-site.