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Children’s Commissioner launches biggest ever consultation with children in England as part of Beveridge-style report into post-Covid childhood

Marcus Rashford’s message of support for The Big Ask

Dame @Rachel_deSouza and @MarcusRashford MBE call on children and young people to take part in ‘The Big Ask’ 

Millions of children and young people in England will be given the chance to set their priorities for Children’s Commissioner’s ‘Childhood Commission’.

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, is today (Monday), launching ‘The Big Ask’, the biggest ever consultation with children undertaken in this country. The survey will run from April 19th to May 19th and will ask children across England to set out their priorities for improving childhood post-Covid. The results of the survey will form the cornerstone of the Children’s Commissioner’s ‘Childhood Commission’ – an ambitious Beveridge-style report due to be published later this year.

‘The Big Ask’ will be made available to every school in England, with schools encouraged to use it during classes and assemblies. It will also be available via the Oak National Academy.

The survey will be accompanied by an online assembly introduced by England international footballer Marcus Rashford.

The results from ‘The Big Ask’ 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 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 Big Ask’ will be online until May 19th, and available to any child who can access the internet. It will also be made available to organisations and services working with children including schools, youth groups, local authorities, charities who work with children and young people, Children in Care Councils, children’s homes, children’s mental health services, youth justice settings, community groups and others.

The survey is completely anonymous and does not ask children to submit any directly identifiable information. 

To ensure that the experiences of babies and pre-school children are captured, the Children’s Commissioner will be running focus groups with different communities and groups of children, which will include talking to parents and carers. There will also be focus groups for children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities or other complex needs.

As part of ‘The Big Ask’, Rachel de Souza will also be visiting schools to speak with children about their experiences of the pandemic and to hear about their hopes for the future. The tour will include visits to schools in Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Norfolk, the Midlands, the South West and London.

Launching ‘The Big Ask’, Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England, said:

“It is time to give something back to children after the huge sacrifices they have made during the Covid pandemic. ‘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 hope that every parent and carer, every teacher and anyone who works with children will encourage children to take part in this big, exciting opportunity. I want ‘The Big Ask’ 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.”

Rachel de Souza’s video on ‘The Big Ask’, featuring Marcus Rashford’s message of support, will be made available to all schools:

There are four different versions of the main ‘The Big Ask’ survey, aimed at children in the age groups 4-5, 6-8, 9-12 and 13-17.

Each version has been designed to be appropriate and engaging for that age group and has already been piloted with children. There will also be two ‘easy read’ accessible versions for children aged 6-8 and 9-17, as well as a version for care leavers aged 18+. 

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