Education Secretary announces preferred candidates for key children’s sector roles

Dame Rachel de Souza named as preferred candidate for next Children's Commissioner, while Annie Hudson is appointed Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has named Dame Rachel de Souza as his preferred candidate to be the next Children’s Commissioner for England, following approval from the Prime Minister.

Dame Rachel de Souza will attend a pre-appointment hearing before the Education Select Committee, at a date to be confirmed later.

The Children’s Commissioner serves a six-year term and current Commissioner Anne Longfield OBE will continue in her role until 28 February 2021.

Mr Williamson has also appointed Annie Hudson as the new Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, a key oversight role in children’s social care. Ms Hudson, formerly Director of Children’s Services at Lambeth Council and Bristol City Council, will lead the independent panel reviewing serious child safeguarding incidents. Ms Hudson is also a member of the What Works Centre for Children Social Care advisory board and a trustee at The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

The panel meets regularly to decide whether to commission national reviews of child safeguarding cases that are notified to it. The panel’s decisions are based on the possibility of identifying improvements from cases which it views as complex or of national importance.

Incoming Chair of the Panel, Annie Hudson, said: “I want to do all that I can to make sure that the Panel’s work has a very clear and positive impact on safeguarding practice and, most crucially, on the lives of children, young people, and their families.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Annie Hudson’s impressive and proven leadership in children’s services makes her best placed to drive the important work of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.”

Dame Rachel de Souza is currently the Chief Executive of the Inspiration Trust – a multi-academy trust of 14 academies based in Norfolk and North Suffolk, which aims to turn around poorly performing schools. She was appointed a Dame in the New Year’s Honours in 2014 for Services to Education.

Following her pre-appointment hearing, the Education Select Committee will publish their recommendations, which the Education Secretary will consider before deciding whether to finalise the appointment.

Anne Longfield OBE will continue in her role as the Children’s Commissioner for England until 28 February 2021.

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