20th July 2022

The Children’s Commissioner visits Eden Girls School

Today, I visited Eden Girl’s School in Walthamstow, part of the Star Academy Trust. Greeted by Headteacher Shahina, the Head Girl and her Assistant Head Girls, you could instantly feel that there was something special about the culture of Eden Girl’s School.

We were taken through to the schools’ new library where we got an opportunity to see the pitch from the runners up of Prince’s Trust Enterprise Challenge – a challenge that seeks to develop young people’s enterprise skills in order to increase their confidence and raise aspirations. The talent and confidence of these young women to design, market and communicate their idea was just incredible. This was the first wonderful group of students I got to meet this morning.

Next, the student leadership team took us for a tour around the school. On the tour we got to see the Year 11 art class painting a mural of their design on one of the walls in the corridors. What struck me was how much this school building had such a feeling of home – similar to when parents allow their child to design a wall in their room. It’s a testament to how much the teachers trust their students and how the students repay this trust by taking on the responsibility to look after their school.

As I always say – speaking to children about what matters to them is the most important, and most enjoyable part of this job.

The final section of the visit was a roundtable with some of the students. Over the most amazing High Chai we spoke about the change the students wanted to see in their world.

They emphasised the detrimental impact lockdown and social media has had on their and their friends’ mental health. When I asked them what needed to be done, they said that tech and social media companies need to take more responsibility to safeguard children – a sentiment I passionately agree with.

Hurtling towards the summer holidays, the students echoed what hundreds of children are telling adults – that they need more safe spaces to play and socialise with their friends.

Finally, we spoke about family, and their aspirations for the future. As always, I felt inspired by what I heard, and they all gave me some good ideas to think about.

Their final message to me was clear: we all need to listen to children more about what they want from school, communities, and families.