AN autistic schoolgirl who was permanently excluded but was not given alternative education arrangements has been awarded damages by Barnsley Council after her mother pursued action.

An investigation by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman revealed the youngster - whose identity has been protected - was permanently excluded from school in May 2022.

Her mother - referred to as Mrs X in documents seen by the Chronicle - added that her daughter’s previous suspensions could have been avoided if she had been given suitable provision.

The council agreed to look into alternative provision for the youngster, and consulted with various schools to identify one that could meet her needs.

However, in September 2022 - four months after the exclusion and at the start of the new school year - the child’s mother contacted the council to say that her daughter had still not received suitable education since, and the council told her it would contact an alternative school and update her.

In October, the council responded to the mother’s complaint, and told her that the child’s previous school ‘could meet her needs’, and was satisfied that her provision was being met.

Councils must provide suitable full-time education for excluded pupils from the sixth day of exclusion.

A report said: “The council has a duty to make alternative provision when a child is not able to go to school because of ill-health, exclusion from school or otherwise and where suitable education is not being provided by the school.

“Councils should ensure the child receives a suitable education as soon it is clear they will be away from school for 15 days or more.

“The child was left without any provision following her exclusion in early May 2022 until starting her new school placement in early November and Mrs X was caused distress and put to the time and trouble of complaining.

“Mrs X complained to the council on May 23, 2022 - she said the council had failed to provide adequate provision for her daughter within a specialist educational setting over months.

“The local authority accepts that the child did not receive alternative education when she was excluded from school.

“The council was at fault for failing to ensure the children received suitable alternative education when she was unable to attend school.

“Areas have been identified by the council which are needed to improve on to ensure Mrs X’s experience is not repeated.”

Following the investigation, the council was told to pay damages totalling £1,800 to Mrs X - £1,000 more than their original offer of £800.

A spokesperson for Barnsley Council said they were unable to comment on individual cases regarding children, but the authority ‘take the learning from all enquiries seriously and the learning from this case has been applied in practice’.