1st April 2011

Business plan 2011-12

I am pleased to present my first Children’s Commissioner’s Business Plan. Following our review by Dr John Dunford this plan starts a new chapter for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC). It is presented “in the spirit” of the review. We promote and seek to protect children’s and young people’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the international treaty at the heart of our work. We present this plan under UNCRC clusters of Articles, informed by issues children and young people raise with us.

We are publishing this plan from our base in Victoria, London, a smaller space than our previous offices. We want to put our resources into realising children’s rights, not running costs. We must also make significant savings, in common with many other organisations. Based here, although we promote and protect the rights of children and young people all over England, we are geographically well located to do so with central Government. We reflect their views to decision makers and wider society, always with a particular focus on the most vulnerable, who otherwise have too little say in vital decisions about their lives.

2010-11 was a busy and rewarding year. In each section of this plan we capture our successes. Later this summer we will lay before Parliament a 2010-11 Annual Report giving greater detail about what we have achieved. This plan, however, is about the future.

With the Department for Education and the Children’s Rights Director, we will work to see John Dunford’s recommendations come to fruition over the next two or three years. The time needed to engineer the necessary legislative change means this plan for 2011-12 remains vital.

We will press for a national focus on the voices, views and rights of children and young people to help ensure change for the better, so that when the new Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England is launched, its foundations are solid and as a human rights organisation it can ensure lasting benefits. My thanks for 2010-11 are due firstly to my Deputy Commissioner and OCC Chief Executive, Sue Berelowitz, and all the staff in my office. This excellent small team has worked closely and productively with me in a fulfilling first year. Thank you to Amplify, our children and young people’s advisory group, an invaluable sounding board. I thank our partners across national and local government, academic, voluntary and community sectors. Consultation with many organisations and individuals during the creation of this plan was particularly welcome.

We work in public settings to influence others’ thinking or by publishing evidence informed by the reported experiences of children and young people. However, much of what we achieve is done behind the scenes, through fruitful collaboration patiently undertaken over long periods in the interests of children and young people. Such activity, out of the public eye, is hugely valuable.

The positive effects of our work to date are considerable. They support our determination to deliver this plan. In it you will find solid evidence of how we work with, and speak and act on behalf of, England’s children and young people. I believe that, as you read it, you will find echoes of your own aspirations for them.

Maggie Atkinson

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