Sixty second interview with Maddy Ford
Maddy Ford is 16-years-old and a member of the Children and Youth Board. This was set up to advise the Department for Education and Skills on various policy areas and to get involved in the recruitment of the children’s commissioner Professor Al Aynsley-Green.
How were children involved in the recruitment process of selecting the commissioner and what was your own personal involvement?
We wrote a person specification having consulted with many other children and young people for the recruitment process. We set written questions for the long-listed candidates and they had an hour to answer these questions. We judged these against criteria we had previously decided upon. I was one of the representatives of the Children and Youth Board who met with the adult panel to discuss the short-list. The Children and Youth Board then interviewed short-listed candidates and representatives of the Board had a final meeting with the adult panel.
What was the ratio of adults to children on the interview panel?
The candidates were interviewed separately by children and by the adult panel. Five young people from the board met with the five members of the adult panel at a final meeting to discuss who were the best candidates to go forward to the minister for children and the secretary of state.
Do you think children’s views were adequately listened to during the process?
Having met with the adult panel, they did seem genuinely interested in what we had to say and listened to us and as far as I know everything we suggested for the person specification was in there.
What did the recruitment process involve? We heard that children wanted to put the Northern Ireland children’s commissioner Nigel Williams through a dancing test, did anyone want to put Al Aynsley-Green through any quirky tests like this?
We asked the short-listed candidates to do an icebreaker where they had to weave toilet rolls in between a line of us without breaking it. The candidates also had to give a presentation about what they would do if they were made children’s commissioner and then there was a question and answer session with them.
What gave Al Aynsley-Green the edge over the other contenders?
He referred to children and young people and not just children throughout his presentation. He also talked about participation of young people and not just consultation so that we would take part in the decision-making rather than just being asked about things.
Do you think he is approachable and that children will feel comfortable communicating with him?
|Professor Al Aynsley-Green|
Do you think many children know that the position of children’s commissioner has been created?
I don’t think many children or adults know about it.
What do you think would be an effective way for him to let children know about his role?
Coverage on programmes like Blue Peter and Newsround and in teenagers’ magazines like Girl Talk and the sort of magazine that you’d read when you’re 14 and on the way to school.
What do you think are the main areas the commissioner should be focusing on?
The Children and Youth Board consulted with lots of other children and young people and the topics that came up were support for young people with various difficulties, such as children coming out of care or pregnant teenagers – so that these young people were supported rather than just being told what they’ve done wrong. Also improved sex education, bullying and personal safety were also high priorities for the commissioner to look at and we also wanted positive images of young people promoted.
What do you think is the biggest threat facing children today?
Stereotyping of young people – older people thinking all young people are dangerous.
Do you think children’s rights will be better promoted and protected under the commissioner given that his role is not as rights based as the other children’s commissioners? (the government changed the commissioner’s proposed role from promoting and safeguarding the rights of children in England to promoting awareness of their views).
I don’t think that our commissioner is going to have as much power to make changes as the other commissioners
The secretary of state can order the English commissioner to hold inquiries into cases of individual children that he thinks raise issues relevant to other children. What do you think about this?
I think it should be up to the commissioner to decide on the issues that are important.
The children’s commissioner for Wales Peter Clarke has said that he is worried that some children and young people in England’s concerns could be neglected because the commissioner is carrying out an inquiry ordered by the secretary of state. Do you think that this could happen?
I think it could do but I am hoping the new commissioner will guard against it.