Practitioners need ‘better grip of parliamentary process’

Children’s services practitioners need to familiarise themselves with the specifics of government processes if they want to bring about meaningful change within their sector, according to former children’s commissioner Al Aynsley-Green.

In a paper launched at the Westminster Education Forum today, Aynsley-Green, now an independent consultant, urged the sector to develop a scientific approach to political advocacy, saying not enough was being done in this area.

“The science of effective political advocacy is poorly understood by many in the children’s sector,” the paper said. “Few practitioners have any insights on how government officials work behind the scenes, how the Bill process works or how parliament operates through its select committees and all party parliamentary groups, and the laying of parliament questions.”

Aynsley-Green added: “Unless we have that focus, we won’t be able to speak effectively with one voice.”

Aynsley-Green also targeted the government, saying it needed to ask itself some tough questions.

“They need to really think, how effective are select committees?,” Aynsley-Green said. “Why is there such poor attendance at all party parliamentary groups? Does government really care about children outside the context of education? Is their policy coherent and comprehensive?”

Aynsley-Green criticised the government’s localism agenda, saying it was “already being seen as a convenient excuse to deny government’s responsibility for any failure or worsening of outcomes” and that the government needed to be more involved.

Aynsley-Green’s paper, Putting Children at the Centre of Government, will be published on his website.

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