Appointment of the Children's Commissioner for England - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

2  The requirements of the post

7. The post of Children's Commissioner for England was established under the Children Act 2004. The Office of the Commissioner (now known as "11 MILLION") is a public body sponsored by the Department for Children, Schools and Families. In 2008-09, the Office received £3 million in Grant-in-Aid from the Department.[4] The present Commissioner and his staff are currently based in London. In 2008-09, 11 MILLION employed 29 people on full-time contracts.[5]

8. The general function of the Commissioner, as defined in the Children Act 2004, is of "promoting awareness of the views and interests of children in England". In exercising this function, the Commissioner may, in particular:

—  encourage persons exercising functions or engaged in activities affecting children to take account of their views and interests;

—  advise the Secretary of State on the views and interests of children;

—  consider or research the operation of complaints procedures so far as relating to children;

—  consider or research any other matter relating to the interests of children;

—  publish a report on any matter considered or researched by him under section 2 of the Children Act 2004.

9. The Commissioner's overall purpose differs in this respect from that of fellow Commissioners in Wales and in Northern Ireland, both of whom are required not just to promote awareness but to safeguard and promote children's rights.

10. The Department for Children, Schools and Families' memorandum for this inquiry elaborated on the key areas of responsibility of the post, as follows:

—  To gather and promote awareness of the views and interests of children and young people so as to raise the profile of children in society and ultimately improve their wellbeing.

—  To encourage people working with children and with responsibility for children, in the public and private sectors, to take account of children and young people's views and interests. You will also advise government on the views and interests of children.

—  To consider or research any matter relating to the interests of children, including the operation of complaints procedures. You will consult children and organisations working with children.

—  To publish reports on any matter you have considered or researched while carrying out his/her general functions.

—  To take reasonable steps to involve children and young people in all work undertaken and in particular to pay regard to those children who may have no other adequate means of making their views known.

—  To ensure children and young people are made aware of your work and how of how they can communicate with you. You will have to develop an effective communications strategy to establish a high profile and to effectively communicate in ways suitable to children and young people.

—  Where cases of individual children raise issues of public policy of relevance to other children you can initiate and conduct inquiries. You will have legal powers of investigation when undertaking and inquiry.

—  You will need to work closely with the Children's Commissioners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland generally, and specifically on matters of non-devolved issues to promote awareness of the views and interests of children and young people across the UK.

—  To work with a wide variety of other bodies to promote the effective delivery of services for children, including local and national government; ombudsmen and regulators, voluntary organisations, businesses and the media.

—  To report annually to Parliament via the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families outlining the way you have carried out your duties; what your findings were; and matters you intend to consider or research during the next year.

—  To ensure the efficient running in operational and financial terms of the 11 MILLION office, keeping proper accounting records and preparing a statement of accounts each financial year.

—  To manage a team of staff at 11 MILLION, ensuring provision of an efficient service in the face of a busy and demanding workload.[6]

11. Candidates for appointment were required to demonstrate:

—  A good understanding, through knowledge or experience of the issues and problems facing children and young people and experience of tackling some of these issues.

—  A good knowledge of children's services and of the policy context within which these services operate. Experience of working with children and young people to deliver effective outcomes for them.

—  Experience of working with a range of stakeholders in order to deliver a set of common outcomes for children and young people.

—  A track record of strong negotiation, persuasion and diplomacy skills and experience of influencing high-level decision-makers in a range of public and private organisations.

—  Successful experience and consistent achievement at a senior management level within an environment of comparable scope and complexity.

—  A record of demonstrable success in translating policy ambitions into tangible achievements.

12. Among the competencies identified by the Department as being key to successful performance in the post were the ability to think strategically, highly developed networking skills, listening skills (with the ability to learn from and gain the confidence of children and young people and those working with them), excellent oral and written communication skills, a strong grasp of the principles of public sector propriety, regularity and accountability, and excellent leadership and management skills.[7]

13. The appointment is for a five-year term, renewable for a further period of up to but not exceeding five years.

4   DCSF Departmental Report 2009, Cm 7595, Table 8.4, page 175 Back

5   11 MILLION Annual Report for 2008-09, HC 734 (Session 2008-09), page 27 Back

6   Departmental memorandum, paragraph 8 Back

7   Departmental memorandum, paragraph 8 Back

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