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Experience of LGO

(45 Posts)
insanityscatching Thu 01-Sep-11 13:06:19

I have a complaint being investigated by LGO at the minute although not hopeful that anything will come from it.
I'd love to hear others' experiences. Have missed a phone call from them this week but tbh it would have been a waste of time taking it because I don't have any of the papers anyway to refer to here with me and I'm trying to escape all that crap anyway.
It's pretty obvious that LEA haven't done as they should seeing as school year starts next Monday and we still don't have a finalised statement 9 months after transition review but what can I expect from the LGO?
I don't expect a slap on the wrist will bother them seeing as they seem unconcerned with their statutory duty and they certainly aren't troubled by prospect of Tribunal or Judicial Review.
What exactly are the LGO's powers anyway? I put in the complaint because I was pissed off tbh rather than considering what I wanted from it if I'm being honest blush

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 01-Sep-11 13:55:26

Bookmarking wink

pleasestoplying Fri 02-Sep-11 00:15:53

Gargghhh. Crap experience so far, I'm afraid. Very very lengthy process which seems willing to accept the council's word for quite a lot of the time and dismiss other evidence.

I had a lot of paperwork to prove the (legal and procedural) mistakes that the council have made but it seems to be being explained away so far. Final decision not in yet but am not remotely hopeful. I had really high hopes but I don't know why I expected the system to suddenly become fair!

appropriatelytrained Fri 02-Sep-11 00:33:31

Rubbish experience. Even when the LA are caught up to their necks in it, the LGO make excuses for them.

In my case, the LGO issued a provisional judgment with an outcome that made no sense according to their own rules and said that there had been delay in putting the provision in place but it wasn't the LA's fault. There was no evidence for this on their ow file and provision was still outstanding when they issued the judgment.

I had to argue the case with them for them to reinvestigate but they are still useless, haven't read the papers, won't admit they've erred in law. They will find any excuse to let the LA wriggle out no matter what evidence they have been given.

They find maladministration in only 2% of cases, but worse than that they can be nasty, partial and blame you instead.

The rotten icing on the cake of crappy SEN experiences!

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 08:49:26

'They find maladministration in only 2% of cases, but worse than that they can be nasty, partial and blame you instead.'

This thread sounds insane. Sorry but it does.

Not saying it is.

Why 2%. Is the whole LGO system really set up to protect LA's and enable governments to say that they are 98% effective, champions of the people they serve etc etc.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 08:50:51

Worth remembering though that whether you win or not, it's a hellova lot of boring paperwork for senior people in LAs and time-consuming meetings that means they have to work evenings...........

insanityscatching Fri 02-Sep-11 09:05:14

Ooh worth it for that reason alone grin

tiredoffightingwithjelly Fri 02-Sep-11 12:16:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

appropriatelytrained Fri 02-Sep-11 12:18:53

'They find maladministration in only 2% of cases, but worse than that they can be nasty, partial and blame you instead.' This thread sounds insane. Sorry but it does.

I'm sorry but that is a fact Star which is readily available with a good google.

It is because the LGO will divert the case to local settlement rather than find maladministration.

I am not insane. In my situation, the LA were not putting in provision in place, there is no defence legally, I sent them pages of clearly worded grounds and appendices and they still made up their own version of why this had happened and said no maladministration. They have now had to go back from this as it is legally wrong.

What you have to be aware of is:

(i) Most cases don't get as far as a judgment as the LGO will refuse to investigate or divert into 'local settlement' which means that there is no determination in cases even where there is maladministration. The complainant has no control over this

(ii) The LGO will use the grounds that will get the LA out of trouble - thus, rather than pursuing an LA for breach of the law in the absence of provison, they will pursue delay which gives them the opportunity to discuss reasonableness. But it is a nonsense to suggest that a LA can break the law and this is still reasonable.

(iii) You will have to anticipate what the LA will say back and provide evidence in advance to defeat them

But if this all still sounds insane and you think it's just me - do a google search and find the evidence out there yourself.

Feel free to go for it but the question was about experience and this is mine

tiredoffightingwithjelly Fri 02-Sep-11 12:22:22

Mine too in terms of the use of local settlement AT.

appropriatelytrained Fri 02-Sep-11 12:34:53

See this for an explanation of local settlement http://www.psow.co.uk/articles/local_settlements.html

The LGO didn't even get that far with me - no discussion of resolving anything from the file. The LGO officer simply asked the LA - 'have you put all the provision in place yet?' - they said yes, here's a timetable and she shut the file down, commenting on me being premature! Even though there was provison outstanding. How long are you supposed to wait when a child with SEN is without legally entitled provision? She didn't give a toss about my son and his needs and the fact the requirements to be met under his statement aren't even mentioned in her crappy judgment.

The LGO have backtracked but they still don't admit they were wrong. I don't trust them as far as I can throw them.

They asked for additional evidence which has been sent but a recent email from the same LGO demonstrates she has not even read it. I've just caused myself loads of additional stress for nothing.

So, that's another case gone to the lawyers - more expense and more stress. Right now, I'm thinking, the only way to deal with this and have a life is drop out of the state system altogether or leave the country!

justaboutWILLfinishherthesis Fri 02-Sep-11 17:14:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tiredoffightingwithjelly Fri 02-Sep-11 17:41:58

Thanks for the link AT. I was interested in the comeback proceedure if no report is issued. Do you have any experience of people using this?

WetAugust Fri 02-Sep-11 17:52:33

As far as I know, you can ask for a review of the decision. If the decision is the same then it would require a judicial review???

From lodging my complaint to the LGO issuing their decsion took just over a year. The investigating officer was ill during that period which probably delayed matters and another took over.

I disagreed with their proposed decsion and asked for a review. The review agreed that the LGO were at fault. Outcome: the LA were told to apologise to me (which they did grudgingly) and to amend some of their processes and to pay me £250 compensation (hardly paid for the print cartridges I used in correspondence with them.

But, as Star says, it casued the LA a lot of grief as their legal team had to deal with the LA responses - which hopefully meant they didn't have so much time to fight parents at Tribunal grin. I did have some satisfaction in confirmation that I experienced and the LA got a nice big black mark against them in the LGO Annual Report.

Small compensation for the grief and distress the LA caused me.

WetAugust Fri 02-Sep-11 17:53:37

oops - sorry shojuld have been "agreed that the LA were at fault"

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 19:12:10

AT, I wasn't saying you are insane. I know full well that you aren't.

I was trying to look at the thread through the eyes of someone less bitter than me and that was what I concluded. How it looks, how it sounds.

I know you do your homework, you have an analytical mind and a respect for facts. These skills have led you to post something that sounds insane (to a non-bitter newcomer and even, it would seem, many advocate type people IN the system - I've always been surprised how many of them seem to believe in it to some extent - although I'm guessing it isn't a good business move to declare that the whole thing is pointless).

It wasn't a personal attack. But in RL I am getting people looking at me sideways when I go near anything like what you have mentioned which I think is why I am so keen, once we are out of the holidays to look for quick exposure wins and make what you are saying is recognised as reality rather than some witterings of some emotionally deranged mums of children with disabilities.

I'm sorry if I upset you.

WetAugust Fri 02-Sep-11 20:43:51

And how will you achieve that Star?

<genuinely interested>

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 21:44:05

Wet,

I'm not sure. There are some ideas floating around.

Two 'themes' seem to be likely to run together for a potential basic site. 1)an information-sharing site for FOI requests as well as a place to upload LA policy docs and stats to compare and share i.e. a indisputable Fact and 2. a section for stories, experiences and anetdotes.

And if it develops into something, a network of informed parents who are prepared to go to meetings with 'other' parents in a different LA as their 'representatives'.

Just building information, networks and history. It will be as small or as big as it's contributors.

But this is just how I see it. We haven't agreed anything yet.

appropriatelytrained Fri 02-Sep-11 21:45:06

You know I am with you on that Star - get organised, get even!

tiredoffightingwithjelly Fri 02-Sep-11 22:11:28

I would be more than happy to be part of a network and to support other parents at meetings, equally there are times when I could do with someone on my side, I think this is a really good idea Starlight.

I think AT has got a really sound point in that if you present information to LA officers which is hard for them to defend they can become unpleasant and that in itself make us as individual parents rather vulnerable.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 22:15:39

No-body could be labelled vexation if someone could simply take over their correspondence in a reasonable way iyswim.

'Vexatious' is quite personal and subjective but loses it's power when there is a team.

tiredoffightingwithjelly Fri 02-Sep-11 22:24:39

I do see where you are coming from Starlight, I have a very tricky and unpleasant situation currently and the sort of support you suggest would be available to parents in the future would be very helpful.

WetAugust Fri 02-Sep-11 22:33:34

I don't understand why the supposedly neutral LGO is staffed by ex-LA employees. Surely there is a conflict here?

Who exactly is frightened about having an effective LGO that does actually investiage thoroughly and censure where necessary?

I can't see how this would bother the Govt as they could make great capital out of exposing the failures of an opposition controlled LA. I accept that it can work both ways.

Why hasn't somebody like the National Audit Office picked up on the variation in performance between the different regional LGOs?

Surely proper adjudication by an effective body is a check to excess and fraud and therefore in the public interest?

Any ideas?

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 02-Sep-11 23:04:56

That's what I said - insane!

Do you know what my job was (is actually, I'm still on an unpaid career break but whilst on it all my colleagues have been made redundant and they have changed office and merged and well who knows........)?

It was to help LA's improve their practice and policies to ensure better outcomes for children.

Things are such a mess that no government could possibly know where to start. I expect that is the explanation for their defensivenes. Hide it and shut up whistleblowers or client complainers. Trying to set national standards, regulations or policies will irriate the unions and they are much harder work than isolated individual vulnerable children.

And there I go, sounding quite insane.........

tiredoffightingwithjelly Sat 03-Sep-11 10:45:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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