How has life changed for children in England since the start of the coronavirus pandemic?
It’s one of the big questions Dame Rachel de Souza, who is the new Children’s Commissioner for England, will be asking children and young people right across the country.
It’s all part of a nationwide review called the ‘The Childhood Commission’ which will look into the future of childhoods in England.
It aims to not only find out what impact Covid-19 has had on children over the last year since the pandemic began, but also what other challenges young people face which could prevent them from achieving their full potential.
As part of the commission, children will be asked about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, what their aspirations for the future are and the barriers that exist to reaching them, their home lives, and how their communities and the local environment could be improved through a consultation known as ‘The Big Ask’.
Young people will also have the opportunity to offer up their thoughts on some of the big challenges they think the world as a whole is currently facing.
“We will start by listening to children, holding the largest consultation with children in England that there has ever been. We want to hear from children from every background about their hopes and ambitions for the future, and to hear what is holding them back,” said Dame Rachel de Souza.
“Their views and experiences and ideas will help shape the way we deliver better outcomes not just for them, but for all our children in the decade ahead.”
‘The Big Ask’ consultation will take place after the Easter school break and surveys will be distributed in lots of different ways including through schools, children’s charities and via social media.
After the review, the Children’s Commissioner will publish an initial report before the summer which will set out children’s aspirations and expectations gathered from the surveys.
Another report will follow, which will put forward solutions and suggest where money and time can be invested to help out children and prepare them for the future.
“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, this is the moment for something big for children to recognise the sacrifices they have made. I have seen first-hand the effect of this crisis on young people’s hopes and dreams, and sometimes our answers simply have not been good enough,” said the Children’s Commissioner for England.
She added: “My ambition is for the Childhood Review to not just reveal the barriers that are holding children back, but also to help government and others to provide policy solutions. It will also set out metrics and targets I will be using to hold them to account.
“I want to see childhood right at the top of the government agenda. That means every speech from the Prime Minister and Chancellor mentioning children, and every government department constantly pushing to improve the lives of children.”