'DISTRESSING' failures caused a mentally-ill girl to miss 14 months of school during her GCSEs.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman found there was 'injustice' in Oxfordshire County Council's delay in arranging the girl alternative education, after she left her private school due to anxiety.

As well as apologising to the family, the council has agreed to pay the girl and her parents £2,900 in compensation.

The report said: "Mr and Mrs X complained the council delayed in providing their child, D, with a suitable education when she was not able to attend school for medical reasons.

"This caused the family significant distress and D missed out on education for 14 months.

"[It caused] significant loss of education at an important time in her school life, because [the council] failed to provide her with a suitable education."

Also read: Mum's outrage as son is still waiting for a school place SIX WEEKS into term

The regulator (LGO) found the council had 'caused injustice' and 'prolonged unnecessary distress and anxiety'.

It published its report into her parents' complaint in July, but it has only just been made public, as part of the agenda for the council's education scrutiny committee meeting this Wednesday.

A report prepared for the committee by council officers said: "The county council has adapted several of its processes to ensure this series of events cannot happen again."

The girl, whose identity was kept anonymous, was studying for her GCSEs at the time of the saga.

The LGO said that in December 2016, when she was in Year 9, she stopped attending her private school due to anxiety and other mental health struggles.

The following March, the school informed the council she was no longer on roll, and her mum applied for a place for her at three academies near their home.

After initially telling her it had not received an application, despite a confirmation email on the contrary, the council then said one school had declined her a place, another was still considering the application, and the other had its own in-year admissions policy and she would have to apply to it directly.

Also read: Thousands of county pupils crammed into over-sized classes

The report said: "There is no evidence the council took any further action.

"By this stage the council was aware she had been out of school for approximately two months."

Her parents then requested home-tutoring via a council-run special school, but were told they were unable to access this until she was on roll at a school.

The LGO's report added: "The council could have admitted D directly to the school.

"Instead, it imposed a condition, creating a barrier to admission.

"This was despite it being aware that the three academies close to D’s home were reluctant, or refusing, to accept her."

The girl's mum applied to three academies again in October 2017, but the council did not get back to her for eight weeks.

She was told that two had declined her daughter a place, and the other school ran its own separate in-year admissions.

Several months of meetings followed, as well as an unsuccessful attempt to get the secretary of state for education to force an academy to take her.

All but one Oxfordshire secondary school are now academies, and the council does not have the power to compel them to admit a child.

However, the report said the council provided the girl's parents with 'misinformation' and there was 'unacceptable' delay.

Due to the delays, the girl reduced the number of subjects she took from 10 to five, the report said.

ALSO READ: This Oxford school is no longer rated 'inadequate'

Since May 2018, when the issue was finally resolved, the girl has been receiving home tutoring from the special school.

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said the report has been considered by the authority's cabinet.

Lucy Butler, director of the council's children’s services, said: "We have apologised in writing to the family. I have also met personally with the family to reiterate our regret.

"We accept and agree that the concerns raised in the report were not acceptable, and are already using these to inform our practice, policies and procedures moving forward.

"The council is very much committed to supporting the needs of families and children in this area."

The LGO's report added: "We welcome the work the council has already carried out, and has planned.

"This is satisfactory to address the service failures identified."

Last month, the Oxford Mail reported how several children in Bicester were still awaiting secondary school places, due to being denied by the town's at-capacity academies.

The council said it was treating their cases with the 'utmost urgency' and speaking to the academies regularly to find a solution.