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4 March 2011

Education, youth justice and celebrating positive role models

This week we made two significant announcements which saw us sharing the views and concerns of children and young people in the education system with parliamentarians and announcing improvements to safeguarding practices in the secure estate.

On Tuesday I gave evidence to the Education Standing Committee to share my initial assessment of the Education Bill. I welcomed the Bill's focus on disadvantaged families, but raised concerns about the changes to school exclusions and reduced accountability in the admissions system. (You can read my initial assessment of the bill here and watch what took place on the Parliament UK website.) Before the conclusion of the committee's evidence session, we will submit to Parliament a considered and evidenced view on the impact the Bill will have on children's rights. This will be published on our website in April.

We were also pleased to announce our successful partnership with the Youth Justice Board (YJB) which has led to their commitment to improve the safeguarding of young people in the secure estate. This followed the publication of our research with the YJB and the charity User Voice which gathered the views of 89 young people who have found themselves in the youth justice system. (You can download the full report here.) This is a positive step forward and we will continue to work with the YJB.

Celebrating achievement

I had a fantastic Wednesday evening at the Jack Petchey Foundation's achievement awards in Ilford to celebrate and congratulate young award winners from Essex and London.   

The awards aim to enable school, colleges and youth organisations to pay tribute to young people who have achieved their goals in a wide range of activities, from swimming at international competitions standard to actively supporting their local youth club.

It was a pleasure to hear their inspiring stories and present the medals to the winners, many of whom had achieved so much against huge odds. To help the young people to continue making a positive difference in their communities, they also receive £200 to spend on a school, club or community project of their choice.

Business planning

I would like to thank the organisations from the voluntary and statutory sectors, as well as our children and young people's advisory group, Amplify, who have endorsed and given us feedback on our draft business plan. We sent it to more than 130 of our partners to ensure that we continue to promote and protect children's rights under the UNCRC. 

On Tuesday (8 March) this will go to my Commissioner's Board for approval and then to the Department for Education. Do look out for the final report which will be published on our website in April.

Today I joined the other UK Commissioners to attend the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health conference. This was the first time ever all four Commissioners gave presentations on themes related to health and young people, against the UNCRC. It was great to hear amazing stories from young people and good exchanges across professions.

Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner for England