After six amazing, frantic weeks, our survey of children in England, The Big Ask, has closed and what a stunning response we have had.
I’m delighted to say that we have received over half a million individual survey responses from children and young people, the largest response by far to any survey of children in this country, ever.
Children have taken part from every region, every town and every city, sharing how they feel about life, what they want for, and worry about, in the future, and what they think needs to change to make life better as they grow up. We’ve heard from primary and secondary school students, from children who are growing up in care and children living in the secure estate. We’ve heard from the parents of babies and toddlers, from care-leavers and from children who are home-schooled.
We will be publishing the headline results of the survey shortly, alongside our interim Childhood Commission report, but for now I wanted to just say thank you.
Firstly, a huge thank you to every school and every headteacher and teacher who encouraged their students to take part. We could not have achieved half a million responses without your support. The goodwill and enthusiasm I’ve had from those working with children has been heartening and inspiring.
A particularly big thank you goes to those schools who hosted visits from me and my team. It has been so energising to travel around to schools around the country, hearing first-hand experiences of the pandemic and listening to children sharing their dreams for the future. Over the last few weeks, I’ve met children who have lost relatives to Covid and are struggling, I’ve met children with amazing and inspiring ambitions – the anaesthetists, electric car designers, neuroscientists and artists of the future – and I’ve met children who talked to me about identity, poverty, gang violence, equality and aspiration.
Thank you too to the countless organisations, both big and small, who promoted The Big Ask on social media – from The Beano and the Scouts and Guides to local youth groups, children’s charities and councils. Thank you also to Marcus Rashford, who helped us to launch the Big Ask and whose supportive message was played thousands of times in classrooms across the country.
But most of all, thank you to every child and young person who has taken time to take part. What you have told us will now be at the heart of our Childhood Commission – my once-in-a-generation review of the future of childhood, inspired by the ambition of William Beveridge’s pioneering 1940s report. Every response we have had makes your voice stronger and helps us to identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential, to propose solutions and to come up with targets to monitor improvements.
When we launched the Big Ask in April, I wanted to make sure we received more submissions than any other survey of children. I also wanted to make sure that the responses we received came from children in all parts of the country, reflecting the many different backgrounds and experiences of childhood in England. On both counts, we have succeeded. But now the real work begins. We need to start turning what children have told us into solutions and policies that are practical and deliverable, and which will be implemented by politicians, so that we can achieve tangible change and give every child in England the chance to be well, do well and thrive.
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