In ‘The Big Ask’, the largest ever survey of children, over 550,000 children in England responded, launching a national conversation across the country. In their responses, children told me about their own ambitions and their hopes for the future of all children, which shaped the seven core pillars of my work, both this year and looking ahead. You can read more about what they said here.
A Better World encompasses children in England’s ambitious, socially‑conscious, reforming vision of the world they want to live in. Children told the CCo they wanted to be involved, get stuck in and contribute to a world of equality, diversity and inclusivity, where all children could thrive. As one child told us: ‘You can’t help what you are born. Everyone should be treated fairly’ – Boy, 11.
A big part of this was a look outward, to the world in which they live, and a hope for a more positive outlook for the natural environment. In ‘The Big Ask’, 39% of children (aged 9—17) said that the environment was one of their main worries about the future, making it the second most common answer. Children spoke to us about a range of environmental issues, from climate change and habitat loss to littering, echoing the thoughts of this 15-year-old girl, ‘the effects of it may be irreversible, and it is very daunting for young people to have the responsibility of dealing with its effects.’ But children were often also ambitious, positive and keen to pursue green careers, as we showcased here.
As well as their concerns about the environment, 31% said that fairness in society was one of their main worries about the future. A key part of my role as Children’s Commissioner is to promote the voices of children, particularly the most vulnerable and speak up for them, making sure that Government, policy- and decision-makers take their views and interests into account when making decisions. I recently published my submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The report highlights the voices of the thousands of children who have spoken to me, and outlines how we can continue to make sure every child, regardless of where they live, has their needs met and their rights upheld.
Finally, I recently launched my inaugural Children’s Advisory Board. This first year is a pilot with 10 schools across England, chosen to represent a diverse range of regions and backgrounds. The board with comprise of children aged 10-13 years old (up to 15-year-olds for children with SEND), at the transition between primary and secondary school and in future years the board will be expanded and will cover different age ranges. The Board will further ensure that children’s opinions, ideas and voices play a central role in shaping my work as Children’s Commissioner and effect change for children in England. We will also provide opportunities and training for board members on a variety of skills, as well as mentoring and shadowing.