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What can I do if my child isn't supported at school?

This page offers information for parents of children and young people with M.E.

While some schools are very supportive of children and young people with M.E, we know that others get it wrong, not always intentionally. Sometimes this can be resolved by asking for a meeting with the school and having a conversation to address misunderstandings and concerns. In other cases, parents/carers feel that their concerns can only be addressed with a formal complaint. We advise that you contact Action for M.E. first in order to get support with mediation otherwise the complaint can become the focus, and take your valuable energy and time, rather than the focus being your child’s needs. If you feel that you do you need further information and support, please get in touch.

If you have come to this page after the relationship with school has broken down, please read on for general advice on how to make an effective complaint; you can still contact us for information and support.

Government advice sets out three steps for complaining about a school’s provision of support for Special Educational Needs (SEN).

  1. talk to the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo). If you or the school believe that your child is failing to make sufficient progress with the level of support that the school can provide and or is an appropriate level for your child, you can request that your local authority carry out a statutory assessment of your child's SEN.
  2. then follow the school/academy’s complaint’s procedure.
  3. if the issues remain unresolved then you can pursue a complaint with your local authority. If your child attends an academy or free school, or the complaint is not in regards to an Education Health and Care Plan, you should complain to the Education Funding Agency instead.

Your local authority may have more than one stage in its complaint’s procedure. If you are unhappy with the final outcome, or the local authority is taking too long to look into the matter, you can complain to an ombudsman via the Local Government Ombudsman website.

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) is a provider of free, independent and impartial service. Part of their role is to consider complaints about the administrative functions of councils and local authorities. The LGO’s role is to evaluate whether or not you may have received a poor service, this might be through delays, poor advice or a failures within the service. If a person has suffered as a result of poor service then the LGO aims to rectify this by providing suitable recommendations.

The LGO is able to investigate a complaint that a council has failed to deal properly with assessing a potential special educational need and issuing an Education Health and Care Plan, or failing to implement an Education Health and Care Plan, or carry out an annual review.

The LGO’s focus is on the administrative processes, not whether or not the council has made the correct decision. Additionally, legislation means that if there is a remedy available through the first stage appeal process of an Education Health and Care Plan (ie. to complain against the local authority’s decision not to assess for an Education Health and Care Plan) then this must be done in place of LGO complaint.