All children in England will be consulted on how the pandemic has affected them

By Iain Leggat
Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 4:19 pm
All children in England will be consulted on how the pandemic has affected them (Photo: Shutterstock)

All children in England will be asked how the Covid-19 pandemic had affected them as part of a “once in a generation review” of the future of childhood.

‘The Big Ask’ consultation, set up by the new Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, will take place after the Easter break and will be the largest consultation ever held with children in England.

How will children be asked?

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The Children’s Commissioner will ask children how the pandemic changed their lives for better or worse, what their aspirations are and the barriers to reaching them, how things are at home, how their communities and local environment could be improved, and how they feel about the future and the challenges facing the world.

The consultation will take its form in several ways, including an online survey that will be distributed to all schools, and adverts via social media, child-facing charities and other communication channels.

To reach children who are outside mainstream settings, the survey will be sent directly to youth custody organisations, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) inpatient units and children’s homes.

Children who are underrepresented and harder to reach will be consulted via face to face interviews and focus groups.

An interim report on the consultation will be published before summer setting out “children’s children’s expectations and aspirations, and the barriers to attaining them”.

‘This is the moment for something big’

Dame De Souza, who took up the position of Children’s Commissioner on 1 March hopes to identify the “barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential, propose policy and services solutions and develop targets by which improvements can be monitored”.

“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, this is the moment for something big for children to recognise the sacrifices they have made,” commented Dame De Souza, who said she had witnessed “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,” she explained.

“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. 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.”