Watchdog vets parents' fears

11th September 1998 at 01:00
MORE THAN 1,000 parents voiced their unhappiness with local education authorities last year by complaining to the local government ombudsman. Nearly 10 per cent of all complaints in 1997 were about the quality of schooling.

One of the most serious cases involved a seven-year-old boy in Hackney, east London, who had no formal education for more than a year after being excluded from primary school.

His case will be included in a new publication from the ombudsman's office which aims to explain the work of the council watchdog.

Two Liverpool parents complained that their children's safety had been put at risk by dilapidated school buildings. The hall flooded when it rained. The boys' toilets, kitchen and dining room also needed major repairs. The ombudsman said it was unacceptable for children to learn in such conditions, but understood the council's financial constraints.

In Sunderland, a group of parents were forced to set up a non-profit-making company supplying free playtime milk for under-fives, after the council decided it could no longer afford to do so. Following complaints to the ombudsman the council reconsidered.

The majority of complaints were about school admissions procedures after parents failed to secure the first choice for their child.

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