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Leading heavyweight government advisor, Sir Martin Narey; former Association of Directors of Children’s Services president, Alison O’Sullivan; BBC Children’s Chief, Alice Webb; and Behaviour and Insight leader, David Halpern have signed up to provide strategic advice to the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield.

The leading figures will join the Commissioner’s national Advisory Board with a mission to help deliver her five-year plan, Ambitious for Children, increasing its impact and influence on behalf of England’s 12 million children. The first meeting of the new group will take place in the autumn.

The role of Advisory Board was established under the Children and Families Act 2014. The Act strengthened the Commissioner’s independence making it her legal duty to promote and protect children’s rights, as well as act in their interests and raise issues that affect children with parliament.

The new recruits join an existing membership of charity chiefs and academics:

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England said:

“I am hugely grateful to this fantastic group of experts for their commitment and support for my work. Each already has an immeasurable impact on children’s lives in England and I’m delighted that we will be able to work together to bring about further improvement.

“My role is unique in that I work on behalf of children across the country and am accountable to them rather than executive or the Government. It is vital that I have in place a team of experts who can advise, challenge and support what I do to ensure children thrive. I very much look forward to working with the new board and am indebted to its members for giving up their time to add real value and impact to my work.”

Children’s Commissioner for England: Advisory Board Member

New members

Alice Webb – Director, BBC Children’s & BBC North

Alice Webb is director of BBC Children’s and BBC North. She is responsible for the UK’s two most popular networks for children: CBeebies and CBBC. Previously, Alice was Chief Operating Officer at BBC England – overseeing all aspects of technology and people. She is a Trustee of the Greater Manchester Art Centre, and Advisory Board Member for Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and the Altrincham Fab Lab.

David Halpern – Chief Executive, Behavioural Insights Team
David Halpern has led the Behavioural Insights Team since its inception in 2010. Prior to that, David was the founding Director of the Institute for Government and Chief Analyst at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit. David is the What Works national advisor and leads efforts to improve the use of evidence across government. Before entering government he held tenure at Cambridge and posts at Oxford and Harvard.

Sir Martin Narey

Sir Martin advises the Ministry of Justice on penal issues and the Department for Education on children’s social care issues. Formerly, Martin was Director General of Prisons, the first chief executive of the National Offender Management Service and Chief Executive of Barnardo’s. He is Chair of The Brain Tumour Charity, Chair of the Portman Group, and a non-executive board member at the Ministry of Justice.

Alison O’Sullivan

Alison O’Sullivan is a former Director of Children’s Services and president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. Alison has had an extensive career in social care which began as a social worker assistant in inner-city Derby. Alison co-chairs the Government Expert Group for improving mental health support for children in care from April 2016.

Existing members

Christine Davies, CBE
Christine has advised the Government on education, child poverty, safeguarding and early intervention. She has been an adviser to the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board on all aspects of children’s services and supported the development of leadership training for Directors of Children’s Services, through the National College and the Virtual Staff College.  She is a member of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, a trustee of the Early Intervention Foundation and chairs two Local Authority Children’s Improvement Boards.

David Holmes, CBE – Chief Executive, Family Action

David Holmes has been chief executive of Family Action since 2013. David has led services for children and families in the voluntary sector, local government and central government.

Dr Javed Khan – Chief Executive, Barnardos
Javed Khan is Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, the UK’s oldest and largest children’s charity. He is a leading figure in the UK public and voluntary sectors with over thirty years’ experience in high profile leadership roles.

Lily Caprani – Deputy Executive Director,  UNICEF UK

Prior to joining UNICEF UK in 2015, Lily held senior posts at the Children’s Society and Rethink Mental Illness. She has spent over a decade as a social justice campaigner, media commentator and public spokesperson for national and international NGOs, influencing significant policy change and funding for programmes.

Professor Marian Brandon PhD – Professor of Social Work, University of East Anglia

Marian Brandon is Professor of Social Work and Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families at the University of East Anglia. She has published widely on child protection. Marian is an expert Advisor to a number of organisations including the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Natasha Finlayson, Chief Exectutive, The Who Cares? Trust

Natasha Finlayson is Chief Executive of the Who Cares? Trust. Prior to joining the Who Cares? Trust, Natasha worked for ChildLine. Natasha is also a Trustee of Children England.

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