Last reviewed 26 March 2021

Dame Rachel de Souza, new children’s commissioner for England, has launched a once-in-a-generation review of childhood.

“The Childhood Commission” will be inspired by the ambition of William Beveridge’s pioneering 1940s report, which laid the foundations of the post-war social security system. The review aims 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.

The review will focus on both problems highlighted by the pandemic and long-term policy shortfalls. It will include The Big Ask – the largest consultation ever held with children in England. 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.

Children of school age will be able to access age-appropriate surveys through the Oak National Academy and children’s charities. Families with babies will also be invited to take part via surveys, interviews and focus groups along with families of children with special education needs and disabilities.

Dame Rachel de Souza said:

“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.”

“We do want to make sure we reach all children of all ages, including those in the youth custody estate, children’s homes and on mental health wards. But it is also important to include the youngest children who can take part either through their parents or with their parents so we have the broadest view possible of how to support children after the pandemic.”

The Children’s Commissioner will publish an interim report before the summer, setting out children’s expectations and aspirations, and the barriers to attaining them, informed by the results of the consultation, an evidence review and data analysis. A subsequent report will propose solutions, investment, metrics, and set out the challenge to society to pay back to this generation of children and re-set their future.

Further information on the Big Ask can be found here.