Anne Longfield’s final speech today as Children’s Commissioner for England put children front and centre and asked the government if it is “serious about ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’?” Anne had a lot to say about the need for better care for vulnerable young people whose problems have been exacerbated by Covid.

What really struck a chord with us was Anne’s point that “the system needs to help professionals develop relationships with children.” And whilst this might seem like a no-brainer, she also said, “I have been shocked to discover that many officials have never met any of the children they are responsible for.”

This point is fundamentally at the heart of Make (Good) Trouble’s ethos, which is to give young people a voice, and to give them agency in their own lives and their futures. Young people are co-creators on all our projects, giving them new and transferable skills in digital media production in the process.

Stats on England's left behind children from Anne Longfield's final speech
Stats on England’s left behind children, slide from Anne Longfield’s final speech
Anne Longfield’s final speech as Children’s Commissioner for England

During her six-year tenure as Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne has been a brilliant champion for children. She made time to connect with Make (Good) Trouble and was interviewed by our young reporter Lola, and later by a group of teens who answered Anne’s questions.

Lola interviews Anne Longfield

Anne’s focus has been to listen to the voices of young people, and particularly vulnerable children such as those in care or those in detention “in secure children’s homes, secure training centre, young offenders institutions, mental health wards and other residential placements, either for their own safety or the safety of others”. Her focus on building up good data on children has shone a light on those in poverty or at risk of being drawn into gangs and county lines. “Vulnerable children stay in the ‘its too difficult’ box”, she said, adding, “people in charge of the system, don’t understand the needs of children”.

Impacts of the pandemic on children: slide from Anne Longfield’s final speech
Liv, Jude, Lola and Gemma answer Anne Longfield’s questions

If you have time, we also recommend you listen to this podcast episode where Anne speaks to children involved with Football Beyond Borders – a fantastic organisation who help children who are struggling at school by using their passion for football to engage them and improve their life chances.

Find out more about the work of the Children’s Commissioner:

The Children’s Commissioner of England website
Follow Anne Longfield on Twitter
Follow The Children’s Commissioner on Twitter
Follow The Children’s Commissioner on Facebook
Subscribe to The Children’s Commissioner on YouTube

Thank you to those who joined us this morning for our Make (Good) Trouble Facebook Live Q&A about the impending return to school/college/uni. Make (Good) Trouble founder, Daisy Cresswell was joined by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust sleep expert, Lara Rutherford and YMCA e-wellbeing‘s Nicola Harvey to discuss the why’s and wherefores of face masks, social distancing and ever-changing guidance.

Back to School Q&A

Back to School Q&A hosted by Daisy Cresswell with guests Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust sleep expert, Lara Rutherford and YMCA e-wellbeing's Nicola Harvey

Posted by Make Good Trouble on Thursday, 27 August 2020

Daisy, Nicola and Lara discussed the understandable anxiety of students and parents facing a return to education, and offered plenty of advice about where to get help, talking to your employer about flexible working arrangements and how to get back into a routine once term starts.

Resources

www.e-wellbeing.co.uk/schools offers lots of resources and tips for parents/teachers and young people to support the transition back to school. This includes videos of young people talking about their mental health, Covid-19 resources, tools that help to challenge anxious thoughts and content on ways to redevelop social skills.

Search the e-wellbeing services for young people and find a mental health support service in Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex.

 Parents can access the Parent Talk Team on Action for Children –  a chatroom and platform specifically for parents during this unprecedent time.

ChatHealth text service, (open 9-4.30) run by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust. 11-19 year old and parents of school-aged children can text 07480 635423.

School Nurse duty number (9-5 every day) 01273 696011 ext 1692

You can also join our Facebook Group, Raising Teens in Lockdown, for further support from parents, teachers and mental health specialists.

Congratulations to Brighton & Hove Year 11 students receiving GCSE results today. We’ve teamed up with Storythings to make this film especially for Year 11s. It features a new poem, ‘Extraordinary’ by Brighton Festival guest director Lemn Sissay MBE, together with messages from your schools.

This film was made by Storythings and Make (Good) Trouble with support from Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove Music & Arts. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Results Day Live Q&A

If you have questions about next steps for students moving on to college, whether to take exams in September or going back into education after lockdown, we’re hosting a live Q&A with educational specialist Jo Heywood on Facebook tonight (Thursday 20th) at 7pm. Do join us there and let us know if you have any questions for the Live event in advance by posting a comment here or on our Facebook page. See you there!

Make (Good) Trouble teen reporter, Lola Ray, spoke to Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, and asked her about her work as “the eyes and ears of kids in the system” during her six year term and her hopes for the future for young people. They discussed lockdown and how it’s affecting teens, parents and teachers.

Longfield says that her main focus in her six years as Children’s Commissioner for England, has been to “shine a light on those vulnerable kids. I really felt that they were so overlooked. Often invisible, if you like, to the services. They’re the children who fell through the gaps, got excluded from school, were in secure accommodation, the ones that were in secure accommodation. And in a way, the system couldn’t cope with the kids, rather that the kids couldn’t cope with the system.”

She calls for the government to look at these children’s situations, find these children and give them the support they need. She calls for there to be a vulnerable children and family recovery programme.

With school exclusions on the rise, Anne Longfield argues that schools should have a positive inclusion policy, whereby children that are excluded are helped to get back to their school as soon as possible. “I want them to be looking at when children need support and really providing that. If there is an exclusion, I want that to be a trigger… But if there is a reason why that child can’t continue in mainstream education… then I want them to get the best support they can… Alternative provision costs about six times as much as school per pupil. So we should expect it to be fantastic. We should expect it to be the best therapist, the best personal tutoring – all of those things to give to those kids who are having a tough time in school, the boost they need to get them back.”

Asked what she would do if she could make just one change to help young people, Longfield said: “I would like young people, and kids generally, to have their place at the top table, that they’re actually part of the decision-making and that there is a recognition that kids are 20 percent of our population but they’re 100 percent of our future. And if we fail kids, what does that mean for society in the future? Whether you think about it in terms of young people themselves, or indeed of all of us, we’re all going to benefit if we can give kids the opportunities they need and the springboard into adult life.”

Find out more about the work of the Children’s Commissioner for England.
Follow @ChildrensComm on Twitter
Follow @childrenscommissionersoffice on Facebook