Student wins education case

24 January 2019, 12:46 | Updated: 24 January 2019, 12:52

M.E. sufferer denied access to education

A student has received an undisclosed payment from Cornwall Council for a lack of access to education.

Because of the failure Maddie Jones who suffers from M.E missed out on six-months of full-time education. 

As a result of the ruling Cornwall Council has agreed to take steps to address faults. 16-year-old Maddie, who lives in Hayle, Cornwall, took her case to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) about her lack of access to education. 

The ruling was just recently published online. 

Maddie has M.E., the most common health-related cause of long-term school absence. 

Like many young people with this serious neurological illness, she has been unable to attend school full-time, and needs support to access education appropriate to her needs – but this has been a considerable challenge. 

Maddie's mum Janet says: "Parents have to fight to enable students with illnesses such as M.E. to have their legally entitled education , as they don't fit the normal education system. 

"These students can be as capable of achieving as their peers, but need a different approach. 

"Maddie's school were happy to let us believe they were fulfilling their the legal obligation, but they weren't."


The LGO's ruling notes that: 

  • Cornwall Council was made aware Maddie was attending school on a part-time basis in mid-February 2017, yet it failed to act until October 2017. As a result, Maddie missed out on six months of full-time school. 
  • This reduced provision and has had a considerable impact on Maddie’s mental health and self-esteem, on top of the considerable challenges presented by the complex symptoms of M.E. 
  • The school did not provide Cornwall Council with full details of Maddie’s circumstances and provision in March 2017. 
  • There is little to suggest the information provided by the school was inaccurate or incomplete. Nevertheless, there is evidence of unnecessary and avoidable delay (approximately eight weeks in total) throughout the process which can be attributed to the Council. 
  • Cornwall Council has agreed to take steps to address the faults set out in the ruling.

Cornwall Council full-statement

"Cornwall Council does not comment in detail on individual young people's cases. 

"On the topic of part time attendance robust systems and monitoring arrangements between schools and Cornwall Council have been in place since Easter 2017. 

"Pupils should only attend school part time in exceptional circumstances for a clearly defined period, and with the agreement of their parents. 

"Members of staff in different teams at the Council have had additional training about how to identify possible part time attendance and this supports these arrangements."

Final Decision