There are two avenues for parents to make complaints about local authority SEN provision, other than directly to the local authority. Parents can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman or to the Secretary of State for Education.  Parents can also appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (SEN and Disability) about their child's SEN assessment or statement.  

In order to direct a local authority the Secretary of State must be satisfied that it has failed to carry out a legal duty, has acted unreasonably in the performance of its duties or has failed to perform a statutory duty adequately before he can consider instructing the authority on the action it should take. He must also be satisfied that any direction would be suitable and expedient, i.e. he must be satisfied that there is a sensible remedy available to him. The Secretary of State cannot issue a direction to rectify past actions, nor can he admonish an authority for its past performance or ask it to apologise.

The LGO is able to investigate maladministration, not just failures in a statutory duty or acting unreasonably in fulfilling a statutory duty. The LGO also has a wider range of remedies available, such as recommending:

  • action to be taken by the LA
  • compensation (if appropriate)
  • changes to systems to prevent future problems.

 If a parental complaint is one that may be investigated by the LGO it should be addressed to them.

The LGO website provides comprehensive information about the work of the ombudsman.

Parents can call the LGO advice team on 0300 061 0614 or 0845 602 1983. The advice team are available Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm. Parents can also text 'call back' to 0762 480 4299.