Barnet sorry about special needs failings

A strictly Orthodox Golders Green family have won compensation and an apology from a London council for a four year delay in providing support for their daughter.

The mother of the nine-year-old requested a care plan from Barnet Council when her daughter, who has learning difficulties, was struggling in a class of 30 in a mainstream Jewish school.

"I wanted some one-on-one help for her because we realised she needed a smaller group," she said. "We were paying a lot of money for her to have extra help privately.

"We were told by a child development doctor that she needed a statement of special educational needs [SEN], which would mean the council would provide extra help, but they refused.

"As she got older, the gap started widening. It was affecting her self-esteem and causing behavioural problems. I thought I didn't have a chance. It was very frustrating and such a struggle."

The family enlisted the help of Rabbi Michael Bernstein's Embee Special Education Consultancy, offering advocacy for parents of children with special needs.

A formal complaint was lodged with the Local Government Ombudsman, who found in the family's favour.

Barnet agreed to pay £1,750 in compensation, attributing the delays to "procedures for obtaining further relevant information from the school setting".

It has also issued the SEN statement, which allows one-on-one care, speech and language therapy and extra help in the classroom.

Rabbi Bernstein said the facts of the case "leave one to wonder how often this is happening, particularly in Barnet".

    Last updated: 2:23pm, June 16 2011