A Bracknell Forest mother who asked for free home-to-school travel for her special needs son will receive compensation from the council after bosses admitted they had not fully explained their transport policies to her.

The mother complained to a local government watchdog about Bracknell Forest Council’s ruling but the authority decided to pay out before investigators could hand down their verdict.

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According to a report from the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), the mother applied for a school place for her son, who has special educational needs, but the approached-schools were unable to meet his needs.

After an intervention from the council, one school offered the boy a place from September 2019.

However, the mother, who has been anonymised by the report, preferred another school which then offered her son a place from October 2019.

It was agreed her son would study at the first school for two months before transferring to the preferred school later on.

In light of this, the mother asked BFC to provide free home-to-school transport for her son while he attended the first school as he was missing the start of lessons each day because she had to drop off her other child at a different school.

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BFC said no to this request as her son was not statutory school age. The mother appealed the rejection but this was also thrown out as there was “no compelling evidence” to suggest the council should provide transport.

This led to the mother complaining to the LGO.

Upon hearing of the complaint, the council contacted the Ombudsman to note it had not fully explained the process of securing a school place to the mother and did not explain its home to school travel policy to her prior to making a decision about which school her son should attend.

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Following this, BFC offered to pay the mother £500 to cover the costs of the transport for the two terms her son spent at the first school.

An LGO report read: “The Ombudsman is satisfied this is reasonable to remedy the injustice caused to Mrs X [the mother].”

Rachel Morgan, Assistant Director for Education and Learning at BFC, said: “We have apologised to the parent for the unclear advice given around home to school transport. Local authorities have the discretion to make payments to cover a pupil’s travel expenses under the education act and, in this case, we have made a payment of £500 for costs incurred due to the unclear advice provided.  Each case is always considered on an individual basis and even if a child is not entitled to home to school travel arrangements, discretionary measures can be agreed.  We apologise again for the inconvenience caused and can confirm the matter is now fully resolved.”