Skip to content

When I took office as Children’s Commissioner, I made it my mission to listen to children. I talk to young people every day – their views underpin all of my work and the work of my Office.

Earlier this year I released the results from The Big Ambition survey which heard directly from children, young people and their parents about what they wanted for the future, their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

In the year of a general election, I wanted to ensure children and young people’s voices were listened to by policy makers, decision makers, parliamentarians, government, and all those working with children.

I was initially disheartened that so few children responding to The Big Ambition felt listened to by those who run the country – only 20 per cent felt they were heard. But the more I reflected on children’s responses it became clear this is not a generation who have become cynical. This is a generation who feel frustrated that they are not being listened to, and that if they were heard then politicians could and would transform their lives for the better.

That’s why I have challenged every party leader to hold a debate for children before election day. I asked my youth Ambassadors why a leaders’ debate for children is important, and here is what they had to say:

Zara, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A party leaders’ debate will allow for an open forum that will increase transparency over the approach that future leaders of this country will take towards enabling and supporting the new generation.”

Penelope, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“Healthy debate is sacrosanct to create transparency and accountability for potential leaders of our country, they need to establish clarity about their aims and priorities of how they will support young people currently and in the future.”

Aaliya, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A party leaders debate is vital in ensuring future leaders of this country are being held accountable by young people, who wish to ensure that the issues of concern to them are being prioritised over the next five years, as well as providing young people with greater clarity in regards to their political aims and development of any vocalised propositions pertaining to the lives of the future generation.”

Mehul, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A leaders’ debate is crucial as it enables voters to scrutinize the policies and character of potential Prime Ministers, promoting transparency and informed decision-making. Introducing a leaders’ debate for children can engage them with the democratic process early on, fostering an understanding of political discourse and encouraging future civic participation.”

Rhea, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“Feeling ignored and politically disengaged is a common sentiment across young people but having a leaders debate with the youth would inspire conversation and unique insight which will in turn create beneficial policies for the public and allow us to feel acknowledged and listened to.”

Rebecca, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A party leader debate would allow young people’s opinions to be heard and prioritised but to also help young people keep politically informed so that they can make the right decision for themselves. Often young people can feel like they are the ‘bottom of the list’. However, by having a party leader debate it would ensure that they are heard and that they can be hopeful for the future!”

Emmanuel, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“Holding a party leaders’ debate is a prime example of why the UK is both a direct and representative democratic state. Young people would be able to hold the leaders of political parties to account and increase their own political capital in order to make the best choice on who they want as their leader. That within itself is democratic power.”

Rylie, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“An all-party leaders’ debate is key to ensure youth are listened to. It’s too often young people aren’t considered as they can’t vote. Young people represent a diverse range of our society and decisions made today directly impact young people. It is paramount for nurturing an inclusive, innovative and sustainable future.”

Evie, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“We live in a time where young people are more informed, passionate and keen to create change than ever, yet they continue to be excluded and patronised in political spaces, creating a culture of disengagement. By allowing young people to engage directly with politicians, we give them the tools to advocate for themselves and play a role in cultivating a future that reflects and benefits from their unique strengths and perspectives.”

Maximilian, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“Many political discussions, media reports, and legislative opinions often exclude the most affected demographic: young people and children. An all-party leaders’ debate is crucial to getting young people’s voices heard ahead of the general election.”

Maya, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A leaders’ debate for young people is so important. Young people may not be able to vote but definitely have so much to say. We need to ensure they are heard and are able to open conversations about the future. We need to listen to the next generation and hear what they are passionate about. By giving young people this opportunity, we are giving them hope and creating accessible spaces within politics for all to be heard.”

Sofia, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“Children’s voices are so important for our future! I believe that political debates for young people will help the elected authorities to understand what WE want and what is important to us. And for the young people, it will mean that we are listened to, that we are significant, and that the elected party will know the interests and views of children. I also believe that it will encourage more young people to be politically aware and active in order to make informed decisions in the future when they are eligible to vote in elections.”

Poppy, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador:

“A debate involving young people is vital in ensuring the growth, inclusivity, and sustainability of a democratic society. It guarantees that our voices are heard and considered, leading to a government that prepares future leaders and builds trust and transparency.”

Related News Articles