Building back better: What barriers do today's children face?

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
The Big Ask: The children's commissioner's national survey is open until May 19

Young people aged from four to 17 are being asked to take a 10-minute survey to help identify their priorities for improving childhood post-Covid.

The new children’s commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, has launched The Big Ask, which she hopes will result in a ground-breaking Beveridge-style report into childhood.

The Beveridge Report, published in 1942, was influential in the founding of the welfare state in the UK and Dame Rachel wants to see a similar revolution in tackling the barriers that many children face.

The survey is running until May 19 and its results will form the foundations of a Children’s Commissioner’s Childhood Commission, which will culminate in the final report later this year.

Schools are being asked to support the endeavour, using the survey during classes and assemblies and it is available via the Oak National Academy too.

The survey is accompanied by an online assembly introduced by footballer turned education and poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford.

The survey asks children in England to set out their priorities for improving childhood post-Covid. Dame Rachel hopes that the resulting Childhood 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”.

The survey is anonymous and does not ask children to submit any directly identifiable information. The questions are tailored by age and cover topics such as how happy children are with aspects of their lives, including friendships, education, play, family and health. It also asks about what they think is important for their future.

The Big Ask will also be running focus groups to try and capture the experiences of babies and pre-school children as well as groups such as young people with SEND or complex needs.

Dame Rachel is also planning a tour, visiting schools in Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Norfolk, the Midlands, the South West and London to speak to pupils about their experiences during the pandemic.

Dame Rachel said: “The Big Ask will ask millions of children in England to tell us what life is like for them, what their hopes and ambitions are, and what is holding them back.

“I want this 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.

“What children tell us will be at the heart of my Childhood Commission and Beveridge-style blueprint for government and others to tackle some of the generational problems that have held back too many children for decades.”


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