Children’s Commissioner launches ‘once in a generation’ review into children’s futures

The new review aims to identify barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential, propose post-pandemic policy and services solutions.

16/03/21

Children’s Commissioner launches ‘once in a generation’ review into children’s futures

The Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza has announced a “once-in-a-generation review of the future of childhood”.

Inspired by William Beveridge’s pioneering report that laid the foundations of the post-war social security system, the new ‘The Childhood Commission’ aims to identify what factors are holding children back, provide policy recommendations and develop monitoring structures to ensure progress.

The Commission will also analyse the effects of the pandemic on future generations as well as the impact of policy shortfalls over the past few decades.

Dame Rachel de Souza, who took over from Anne Longfield as Children’s Commissioner for England last month, said that she wanted to see childhood at the top of the UK Government’s agenda for rebuilding the nation both now and for the future.

“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, this is the moment for something big for children to recognise the sacrifices they have made,” said de Souza.

“I have seen first-hand the effect of this crisis on young people’s hopes and dreams, and sometimes our answers simply have not been good enough.

“We will start by listening to children, holding the largest consultation with children in England that there has ever been. We want to hear from children from every background about their hopes and ambitions for the future, and to hear what is holding them back,” she added.

The review will revolve around the ‘The Big Ask’ – the largest consultation ever held with children in England.

Children will be asked about their experiences over the course of the pandemic, how it has changed their lives for better or worse, and how they have found living and learning at home over the past year.

In addition, children will be asked what their aspirations are, what barriers they feel might stop them from reaching them, how their communities and local environment could be improved, and what they feel about the future.

The consultation will take place after the Easter break through an online survey distributed to all mainstream settings including schools, as well as youth custody organisations, children’s homes and child mental health services settings.

An interim report will be published before the summer and set out initial findings from the consultation before a subsequent report to propose solutions later this year.

Dame de Souza emphasised how the pandemic presented an opportunity to improve the prospects of futures generation and delivery better outcomes for children across the country.

“Our response to the trauma of the Second World War was to create a blueprint for a social service system and a National Health Service that improved our lives. We have the chance to do the same again now for children. There is a huge opportunity to remake our social settlement which won’t come again for decades, and we must seize it,” said de Souza.

“My ambition is for the Childhood Review to not just reveal the barriers that are holding children back, but also to help Government and others to provide policy solutions. It will also set out metrics and targets I will be using to hold them to account.

“I want to see childhood right at the top of the Government agenda. That means every speech from the Prime Minister and Chancellor mentioning children, and every Government department constantly pushing to improve the lives of children,” de Souza added.


“Their views and experiences and ideas will help shape the way we deliver better outcomes not just for them, but for all our children in the decade ahead,” she concluded.

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