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The Big Ambition – Survey now closed!

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, launched The Big Ambition, a national survey of children and young people across England.

The Big Ambition aimed to hear from children across England on what they think is important! In the lead up to the next General Election, the Children’s Commissioner wants to take children’s thoughts, opinions and ideas to decision-makers, to make sure that the Government hears young people’s voices on what they think needs to be done to make children’s lives better in England.

The Big Ambition survey is now closed and the first results will be published on 25th March 2024.

The Big Ambition was open to children and young people in England aged 0-18 years old. The survey asked for information about the person responding, the child’s age, and what school they attend. The questions were slightly different depending on the age of the child answering, but, everyone was asked what they think the Government should do to make children’s lives better.

Everything in the survey is anonymous. If you would like to find out more about our data protection policies, please visit our information and privacy page.

If you have any questions about the survey or The Big Ambition, you can contact us using the contact form on our website.

Lesson Plans

For schools, there are Lesson Slides and Lesson Plan available for download using the links.

Two Lesson Plans are included for each age group: a 40-minute long format lesson plan and a shorter 20-minute Lesson Plan. The Lesson Plans aim to help children understand how they can have their voices heard and participate in The Big Ambition survey.

Primary school:

Secondary school:

Accessibility

If you cannot complete the survey online, download a copy below. Once you have filled in paper copies of the survey, please complete the survey using the answers you have gathered at:  http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/thebigambition.

Alternatively, you can email us the completed survey at: 
[email protected]

Or post completed responses to us at:

Children’s Commissioner for England

Sanctuary Buildings

20 Great Smith Street

London

SW1P 3BT

Downloads

Social media

If you are posting content about The Big Ambition, please use the hashtag #TheBigAmbition. We will be sharing posts from schools, individuals, and organisations throughout the campaign.

We would love you to post about children completing the survey. If you’re working with children and young people who are completing the survey, it would be great to see your photos (get consent, we might share).

You may also wish to tag the official Children’s Commissioner channels:

  • Instagram: @ChildrensCommissioner
  • Twitter (X): @ChildrensComm
  • Facebook: @ChildrensComm (Children’s Commissioner for England)
  • LinkedIn: Children’s Commissioner for England

Frequently asked questions

What questions are in the survey?

Demographic characteristics of respondents:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnic background of the child
  • Living arrangement of the child (where they live most of the time)
  • Whether the child has Special Educational Needs / Disabilities (SEND)
  • Whether the child has a social worker
  • Whether the child goes to school or college
  • Name of the school or college
  • Name of the local authority in which the child lives
  • Age of adult responding on behalf of a child
  • Gender of adult respondent
  • Relationship of adult respondent to the child

Extent of agreement or disagreement with a list of statements:
The questions are adapted by age – some shown only to younger children, some shown only to older children, some shown to all children. For full details see question wordings in paper versions on this page.

  • You feel like you can make a difference to things you care about / You feel empowered to change issues that you care about
  • People who run the country listen to your views
  • You are treated fairly
  • You have the same opportunities as other children
  • You know about good jobs for when you are older / You know about apprenticeships, university options and career paths
  • You know about money and life skills
  • You can access good healthcare when you need it
  • You have a healthy diet
  • You feel happy with the way you look
  • You have someone supportive to talk to about how you feel
  • You have somewhere to call home
  • You live with people who make you feel loved and cared for
  • You have great teachers who support you
  • You enjoy going to school / You enjoy going to school or college
  • Your family has everything they need to support you
  • Your family gets to spend quality time together
  • You feel safe when you go online
  • You feel safe and protected in your local area
  • You have fun activities to do near where you live

Views on what the Government should do to make children’s lives better.

When does the survey need to be completed by?

The deadline for the survey is Friday 19th January.

Why are you asking for the name of the child’s school or college?
  • This is the most child-friendly way of asking children for their approximate location, so that we can break down the findings geographically. It is important to understand any variation in children’s views and experiences across the country.
  • School name is more likely to be known to the child than alternatives like postcode.
  • As a back-up, and for children who do not attend school, we are asking for the name of the local authority the child lives in.
  • Asking for school name will also let us celebrate the achievements of schools with a high rate of survey completions.
How long does the survey take to fill in?

Children take 3 to 10 minutes to complete the survey, due to differences in how quickly they read, and how much they want to write. Children with SEND and children completing the easy read version of the survey may take longer and need more help.

Is the survey a good use of time?

The Children’s Commissioner has a statutory responsibility to listen to children and young people, and make sure their views and needs are heard by policymakers. Now, with an upcoming General Election this is a critical moment for policymakers to think about what things the next generation need. The survey is an opportunity for children and young people to have their say in the run-up to the next general election. Several children on whom we piloted the survey said they found it fun or enjoyed answering the questions.

What happens if some children finish the survey earlier than others?

As children complete the survey at different speeds, it can be helpful to set a follow-up task for those finishing earlier than others. Links to resources for children and young people to explore, such as our ‘Back to School’ resources and ‘Where can I go with maths?’ interactive resource, can be found on our website at http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/things-to-do.

Should I fill in the survey on behalf of children, or get them to do it themselves?
  • If a child is mostly able to fill it in themselves, but needs help, then you can help them. The primary age version of the survey assumes a lower reading age than the secondary school age version of the survey. The easy read version has the lowest reading age but can be filled in by children of any age. The easy read version has been designed for high needs children, but children may still need help from an adult to answer the questions.
  • If a child cannot answer the questions, you can fill in the survey on their behalf. You can answer as you imagine they would answer or ask them for their views and record the answers they give.
Why are you doing this so soon after your last survey, The Big Ask? How is this different?
  • The Big Ask was about hopes, fears, dreams, and lockdown stories in the context of emerging from the pandemic, at the beginning of Dame Rachel de Souza’s term in office as Children’s Commissioner.
  • The aims, content and time context of the two surveys are different. The Big Ambition is an opportunity for children to have their say. The Children’s Commissioner will use the answers to make sure children’s voices are heard by policymakers and Government.
What if a child in my class doesn’t want to fill in the survey?

The survey is voluntary and optional. Children do not have to fill in the survey if they do not want.

What devices should we use to allow children to fill this out during school time?

Schools should use whatever devices they decide will work best. We have tested the survey on a range of tablets, laptops, and smartphones. We recommend children complete the survey online, but if this is not possible then paper copies are available for download on this page.

If we fill this out in paper form, do we have to manually input the answers for all children or do we send these copies back to the Children’s Commissioner’s office?

Returning the completed survey

Once you have filled in paper copies of the survey, please complete the survey using the answers you have gathered at:  http://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/thebigambition

Alternatively, you can email us the completed survey at:
[email protected]

Or post completed responses to us at:

Children’s Commissioner for England

Sanctuary Buildings

20 Great Smith Street

London

SW1P 3BT

How are you planning to reach all children?

The Children’s Commissioner has sent The Big Ambition to 22,500 schools across England so she can start to hear from children and young people aged from 6 to 18. The Children’s Commissioner wants to make sure that she is hearing from children in all settings, particularly children in care. To reach all children and young people, the survey is also being sent to children and young people in children’s homes, secure children’s homes, residential special schools, hospitals, young offender institutes as well as hostels.

Over the next few months, the Children’s Commissioner and her team will be travelling across England visiting schools, colleges, children’s homes, secure children’s homes, residential special schools, hospitals, young offender institutes as well as hostels, youth clubs and many other locations to ensure she reaches the widest group of young people possible.

Will the Children’s Commissioner come to visit my school?

If you would like to invite the Children’s Commissioner to visit your school, please get in touch via: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/about-us/contact/.

How does consent work? Should we tell parents/carers about this survey in advance?
What happens next?

The Children’s Commissioner’s office will analyse the survey data and report on the survey findings in 2024. If you would like to receive emails containing information on the survey findings, you can sign up to our email newsletters at https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/.

Things to do – resources for children and young people

On this page you can find things to have a look at and activities to do based on different areas of your life.