The new children’s commissioner has announced plans to survey school children as part of a ‘once in a generation’ review into the future of childhood.
An online survey will be distributed to all schools after the Easter holidays, as part of Dame Rachel de Souza’s Big Ask consultation.
To reach children outside mainstream settings, it will also be sent directly to youth custody organisations, CAMHS inpatient units and children’s homes.
The survey is part of the new commissioner’s new Childhood Commission, which will identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential.
The pandemic has exposed social fault lines which had been hidden from the view of many and affected the wellbeing and prospects of the young.
The number of children with probable mental health problems rose from one in nine children in 2017 to one in six in July 2020, and the IFS has calculated that 6 months of missed schooling can be expected to reduce someone’s lifetime earnings by around £40,000.
‘Our response to the trauma of the Second World War was to create a blueprint for a social service system and a National Health Service that improved our lives. We have the chance to do the same again now for children. There is a huge opportunity to remake our social settlement which won’t come again for decades, and we must seize it,’ said Dame Rachel.
‘I want the Childhood Commission to have the spirit and the ambition of the Beveridge Report – something that leads to long term changes that improve the chances of every single child, whatever their early standing in life and wherever they are in England.
‘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,’ she added.
The chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, Neil Leitch ‘warmly’ welcomed the new review.
‘We know that all too often, decisions around education and care are not informed by the views of those directly affected by them. As such, the emphasis on capturing the voices of children and young people – and in the case of the very youngest, their parents and families – in this initiative is a very positive step forward,’ added Mr Leitch.
‘We at the Early Years Alliance look forward to working closely with the new children’s commissioner on this important work and ensuring that the early years sector, and the children and families that we support, are fully represented going forward.’
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