Children’s Services & Education

Counties lead the way in helping shape young people’s lives, and protect those most in need. County authorities offer families the second highest-percentage of first-choice school places in the country, and 86% of schools in counties are ranked as Good or Outstanding. In addition, counties offer safeguarding for the most vulnerable: frontline social workers delivered care and support to over 150,000 children last year.

However, funding challenges are present in both areas, most notably in children’s services where funding has flatlined as demand has soared. Over the last decade, referrals to children’s social services has increased by 107% but funding has not kept pace. More county authorities are implementing child protection plans now than they did do ten years ago. CCN’s research this year showed that per-pupil funding for special educational needs pupils – the high needs block – is inadequate to match demand, with 22 counties projecting to overspend heavily by 2019, with eight of those councils re-routing funding from their schools budgets to help make up the shortfall.

The government’s National Schools Funding Formula does deliver an uplift in funding for county areas, but county pupils are still underfunded compared to urban pupils, especially those in London. The average county pupil will receive 43% less per head compared to the average inner London pupil from the next school year. Therefore, CCN will continue to highlight funding pressures and funding distribution inequality within the system and to argue for a revised role for councils in a mixed economy of schools, including fully-funded school improvement and oversight, school place planning and home to school transport functions.

The well-publicised funding pressures facing counties are also impacting on other schools-related services. CCN research shows that per-pupil costs in delivering home to school transport in rural areas are far higher than in urban locations, and as a result, counties have had to cut back free transport to the statutory minimum in recent years, with over 20,000 pupils in 20 counties no longer receiving free transport in 2017 compared to 2014.

Referrals to children’s services have increased by 107% county areas over the last decade; rising from 121,334 in 2006 to 250,572 in 2016 
Counties are responsible  38% of England’s entire spend on children’s services
County authorities will receive £4,921 per pupil in schools funding during 2018/19, whilst inner London received £7,060 per pupil
Counties have had to reduce home to school transport services due to funding shortfalls with 22, 000 less pupils receiving free transport in 2017 compared to 2014

CCN advocacy

  • Highlight funding pressures within children’s services and high needs block, and advocate the need for extra resource to ensure services can match demand
  • Championing a strong role for councils in a mixed economy of schools, including fully-funded school improvement and oversight roles, school place planning, and a home-to-school transport functions – with fair and equal funding, per pupil, for county schools
  • Putting forward the case for devolution of skills funding and provision to counties to link up with growth functions, to help grow local economies
  • Outline the higher costs of delivering services in rural areas, such as home to school transport, and ensure these costs are factored into any new funding formula for local authorities

CCN Children and Young People Spokesman

Cllr Keith Glazier, Leader of East Sussex County Council

CCN Chairman

Cllr David Williams, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council