THE county council has been forced to apologise to a mother for causing her son – who has special educational needs – to miss 14 months of school.

Worcestershire County Council has admitted it took too long to find a suitable place for her son, who needed two-to-one support, when he could no longer cope in his primary school.

Council bosses admitted their mistakes following an investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

The council has paid £4,200 in compensation to the mother.

The Ombudsman’s report said in December 2017, instead of permanently excluding the boy, the school, in agreement with the county council, kept him on roll even though he would not be allowed to return.

The council could not offer the boy a suitable alternative until February 2019 when he received just one hour a week of intervention and play therapy.

There was no evidence the council had assessed that the boy could only cope with such limited provision.

The investigation found the mother had complained throughout the time her son was out of school and was twice told by the council that there was no alternative locally.

The report said the council also failed to update the boy’s care plan and took too long to react to the mother’s complaint.

As the council failed to issue a new care plan, the mother was denied the right to challenge the council through a tribunal.

The council has since said it will review its corporate complaints procedure to make sure it does not take longer than 12 weeks to complete.

Sarah Wilkins, the council’s assistant director of education and early help said: “We have accepted the recommendations of the investigation and have apologised to the complainant for our failings.

“We will use our learning from this investigation and work with our partners to take appropriate further actions to improve services.”

Michael King, local government and social care ombudsman, said: “Councils faced with children who are out of education need to make alternative offers promptly, and not allow a situation to become normalised where a child has no education.

“It’s also a principle of good complaints handling that processes have clear timescales so people can progress through them in good time.

“I welcome Worcestershire County Council’s prompt acceptance of all our recommendations.”

In 2018, services for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Worcestershire were severely criticised by government inspectors, Ofsted.