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18 November 2012

A busy week ahead

Weeks have passed since the last post on this blog so this is another "catch-up".  I hope to be back on weekly blogging form soon!

Weeks have passed since the last post on this blog so this is another "catch-up".  I hope to be back on weekly blogging form soon!

We remain as busy as we usually are here. It's just one week until Children's Commissioner's Takeover Day (Friday 23rd November)! Already people have been tweeting away about what they are up to using the hashtag #TakeoverDay2012. We will soon be able to let you know more but those joining in include Government ministers, MPs, Blue Peter, local newspapers around the country, Local Authorities, police forces, museums and galleries with the support of Kids in Museums, charities, businesses and many, many, many schools!

My office will also be taken over and I will be shadowed by two young people. If you have not already done so add your event to our map and tweet about what you are doing. If you use the hashtag above it will even appear on our website and it's still not too late to sign up.

We have entered the second year of both our School Exclusions Inquiry and our Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups (CSEGG) Inquiry. The small teams for both having launched calls for evidence, and started visits across the country and evidence sessions and meetings. In the current period of radical change in education, and continued high levels of interest in child sexual exploitation, you won't be surprised that there's keen interest in talking to and meeting us, and a lot of people waiting for what we will say and recommend. We published the first year's report on the exclusions issue in March and will go public on Year 2 in the spring. We publish our CSEGG Year 1 findings on November 21st and we urge that you take note as this is a vital and pressing matter. We are of course working with the other Children's Commissioners in the UK and a lot of other organisations on it.

Separately last week we hosted a meeting on complaints procedures in the health service and in the youth justice system with representatives from Government departments, the Office of the Children's Rights Director (OCRD) and charities so we could hear from both researchers and two powerful young speakers with experience of complaints. We looked at what we need to do to improve complaints procedures in both areas. This follows reports on health and youth justice complaints procedures we published in the summer.

The messages were clear challenging and stark:  `this is about power and powerlessness, and I will believe there will be change when I see change happening' said one young presenter, and `the people who want change are here. The ones who don't are elsewhere.  You have some challenges ahead.' Those representing services and government teams were humbled, and went away to develop pledges and promises. We will all be held to these.

We had a residential "forming, storming and performing" weekend with Amplify last Friday and Saturday, with a number of farewells having happened to those turning 18 and therefore new people were also welcomed. It was a great event, and some new bonds were forged as people got to know and support each other.

Maggie Atkinson
Children's Commissioner for England