Last Tuesday, the pre-appointment hearing for the next Children’s Commissioner in England took place, with Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive, 4Children, answering questions posed by the Chair of the Education Select Committee.
The issue of summer born children was mentioned briefly at the start, and you can listen to the whole hearing here or read extracts below.
Chair Graham Stuart, MP:
“Now as part of our preparation for today, we used Twitter [check out hastag #OCCintray] and asked people to suggest to us what we should question you on. A lot of tweets picked up on the issue of under 5s, including issues such as school starting dates for summer born children, the early years workforce, the ‘schoolification’ as was put by some early years, and support for parents who would prefer to stay at home with their children rather than go to work, whereas others concentrated on the rights agenda. Teaching about the united Nations Charter in schools, and I wonder how far do you see that the former group of issues are your responsibility in comparison to promoting the rights of children in England in that UN context?”
Anne Longfield OBE:
“For me I’m really clear that it’s children’s rights, and the defence of those rights and the protection and furtherment of those rights that is the agenda that I’m being asked to promote, and within that clearly all ranges of children would be part of that responsibility.
“There are a number of things I’ll be seeking to do. One will be to relentlessly champion the interests and rights of children…
“I’ve always worked with children and their families to support them to fulfil their potential… so I very much see myself as standing alongside children, and their families, and supporting them, rather than coming from a kind of professional or sector place starting point.
“So championing their rights across government and indeed in a wider public domain would be absolutely core.
“I’m used to not having levers of power at my disposal but what I do have is the office and the status that that commands; I do have a recognition across government and elsewhere because of that. I do have the ability to put forward really strong evidence… and I do have the ability to be able to go forward, speak to others who have that responsibility/ decision-making power to deliver, and use my almost, in a way, relentless power of will to persuade others to take this on…“