School is a core pillar of my work as Children’s Commissioner following ‘The Big Ask’, which was the largest-ever survey of children. This survey demonstrated how important school and teachers are to children, and that school is the place they want to receive support if they need it. Children explained the importance of being in a nurturing and supportive environment for them to thrive in their futures.
As one child I spoke to said, “People don’t realise how much education is important for life in general. […] if they don’t learn in school, they might not be able to enjoy life to the fullest” – Girl, 14.
After so much online learning, children in England – vulnerable children, especially – care passionately about being able to go to school again. They find school challenging but fulfilling. And overwhelmingly, they like school. Including those who need additional support, with those who need that, and receive it in school, being happier than the overall cohort.
Another child told me, “I really want to learn even if it’s hard because education is important to me” – Girl, 11.
My work within this pillar will involve helping all children to succeed in school, particularly those with additional needs, and monitoring closely the implementation of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Green Paper. As well as making sure every child leaves primary school being able to read and write.
Ambition for all - our vision for the school system
Ahead of the Schools White Paper I published a report on how to realise my ambitions for a school system that works for all children. My core aims are making sure every child attends an excellent school and leaves primary school being able to read and write. Every school should provide an offer to children which extends from an enriching curriculum to additional support for children, as part of a wider network of outstanding children’s services.
As Children’s Commissioner for England, I want all of England’s children to have everything they need to thrive, to be happy and healthy. This means the ambitions of every child being matched by the support around them – by their family, schools and, where needed, being able to access brilliant mental health, social care and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support. I want to make sure all children are in school, every day, engaged and ready to learn, including receiving any additional support they might need to help make that happen.
I have also created an assembly for schools to share with children transitioning from primary to secondary school, which you can find on my resources for schools Back into School page.
Education history and attendance
Back into school: New insights into school absence – evidence from three multi-academy trusts
Voices of England’s Missing Children
The SEND Green Paper – our response and brand new analysis of EHCPs
Following the publication of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Green Paper, I published my initial response, including brand new analysis of just under 650 Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) from two local authorities.
My office found variation in the accessibility of EHCPs and the extent to which outcomes set in EHCPs are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. This analysis supported proposals in the SEND and AP Green Paper to standardise and digitise EHCPs.
I have now published my formal response to the Government’s consultation, outlining my ambitions for how the system can be reformed so it works for all children.
An inconsistent approach to SEND, findings from analysis of Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP) from two local authorities in England
The Big Answer - Resources for schools
The Children’s Commissioner asked all the children in England to complete ‘The Big Ask‘, to show the true voice of this generation.
Children were united – they told us they want to get back to school, to get on, and do well. To have fulfilling lives. To make a contribution to a better world – a greener world, rooted in fairness of opportunity for everyone. We are now making sure children are being heard.
Here we share resources for schools to use with their pupils.