Inquiry may threaten future of children’s commissioner

The role of the Children's Commissioner in England, held by Maggie Atkinson (pictured), is under threat as an independent review into its future starts.

The role of the Children’s Commissioner in England is under threat as an independent review into its future starts.

The review, announced by education secretary Michael Gove, had been expected as part of the coalition government’s intention to reduce the number of quangos and cut costs.

Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, will head the review which, Gove told parliament, will look at the powers, remit and functions of the role, its relationship with other quangos and value for money.

Dunford will make an interim report in mid-October and a full report by the end of November.

Children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson said she welcomed the review. “The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is a public body so it is vitally important that we provide children with the most effective advocacy model, the very best value for money and also, that we are accountable for what we do.”

Gove said there was “continued debate about the remit of the post, as compared to its counterparts in other countries and the devolved administrations, its public profile and the impact it has had”.

He added: “I agree with the broad consensus that it is now time to take stock of the office, role and functions of the Children’s Commissioner for England through a detailed and considered review. This will provide an opportunity for the government to consider the views of a wide range of partners on how government can best promote children’s interests.”

Dunford said he would be “looking with an open mind about the best way to give young people a voice and protect their rights.

“That is why it is important that I talk to young people themselves to hear their views about the best way to represent them. I will also be talking to a wide range of children’s groups, people working in education and children’s services, and looking at successful practices in other countries.”

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