Commissioner asks Norfolk pupils' views on post-Covid childhood

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England. - Credit: Tom Barnes

School pupils and young people in Norfolk have had the chance to have their say on what would improve childhood as part of a "once-in-a-generation" review by the children’s commissioner.

Dame Rachel de Souza headed the Inspiration Trust, which runs 14 schools across Norfolk and Suffolk, before taking on the role - to promote and protect the rights of children - earlier this year

‘The Big Ask’, the biggest ever consultation with children undertaken in this country, which was launched with a message by footballer and campaigner Marcus Rashford, has seen children asked what they see as priorities for young people post-Covid. 

As part of the consultation Dame Rachel has been visiting schools in Norfolk, including Jane Austen College in Norwich, to speak with children about their experiences of the pandemic and to hear about their hopes for the future. 

Her tour has also taken in visits to schools in Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, the Midlands, the South West and London.

She said: “It is time to give something back to children after the huge sacrifices they have made during the Covid pandemic. 

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“‘The Big Ask’ will ask millions of children to tell us what life is like for them, what their hopes and ambitions are, and what is holding them back.

“I want it to be the biggest survey of children ever carried out in this country so that we can better understand what children want from the people in power and those who make decisions about their lives.”

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The survey, which has also involved youth groups, charities who work with children and young people, children in care, children’s homes, children’s mental health services, youth justice settings and community groups, has already garnered 450,000 responses.

Inspiration Trust, which runs schools including Jane Austen College in Norwich, has secured £26,800

Jane Austen College in Norwich one of the school visited by Dame Rachel De Souza as part of The Big Ask.  - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The results will be at the heart of the Childhood Commission, a once in a generation review of the future of childhood, inspired by the ambition of William Beveridge’s pioneering 1940s report, which laid the foundations of the post war social security system. 

The commission will identify the barriers preventing children from reaching their full potential, propose solutions and come up with targets by which improvements can be monitored.

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