Appointment of the Children’s Commissioner for England Contents

Appendix 2: Correspondence from the Secretary of State

Letter to the Chair of the Committee, 4 July 2020

You will be aware that the term of the current Children’s Commissioner for England comes to an end on 28 February 2021. I am writing to inform you of our plans for recruiting the next Commissioner. Sharing this with you is the first step in the recruitment process and we will continue to keep you updated as the campaign progresses.

Our high-level timetable is to run an eight week recruitment campaign from the end of July, carry out interviews in October and identify the preferred candidate by early November. We hope to announce the successful candidate in early December. This timetable is of course subject to change owing to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and we will inform you if anything does change.

As you know from your regular hearings, the Children’s Commissioner plays an extremely important role in improving the lives of children in England and I would like to share with you our vision for the person we are looking for. Enclosed with this letter is our draft essential criteria.

In essence, the Children’s Commissioner must be someone who understands the issues facing children and young people, and who is able to focus on delivering solutions to these issues.

The Children’s Commissioner primary function is promoting and protecting the rights of children in England, with a particular focus on ensuring that the views of the most vulnerable children are heard. This includes considering the potential effect of government policy and legislative proposals on the rights of children. The legislative basis for the office of Children’s Commissioner is in Part 1 and Schedule 1 of the Children Act 2004.

I would like to invite the Committee to undertake a pre-appointment hearing once I have chosen a preferred candidate. I will ask my officials to contact your clerk to explore suitable dates as soon as possible after our appointment process has ended.

I am grateful for your consideration of this proposal and look forward to the Committee’s involvement in this very important role. I am sure you will share my high expectations of the positive benefits that the Children’s Commissioner will continue to bring to the lives of children in England.

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

Draft criteria for recruitment of Children’s Commissioner for England

The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate the following essential criteria:

We also expect candidates to be able to demonstrate the following desirable criteria:

Letter to the Chair of the Committee 8 December 2020

Appointment of the next Children’s Commissioner for England

I wrote to you on 4 July 2020 to confirm our plans to recruit the next Children’s Commissioner for England, following the conclusion of the current commissioner Anne Longfield’s tenure on 28 February 2021. We agreed at that point that the Committee would wish to hold a pre-appointment hearing once we have a preferred candidate for the role. I can confirm that the recruitment process has now completed and I am writing to invite your committee to hold a pre-appointment hearing with my preferred candidate: Dame Rachel De Souza.

In my view, Rachel has emerged as the strongest candidate suitable for the role from a very competitive field and following a rigorous recruitment exercise led by an independent Advisory Assessment Panel. This involved: applicants passing a rigorous sift, shortlisted candidates undertaking a psychometric test, a children and young people’s panel and an interview by the Advisory Assessment Panel. Following the final interviews, the Advisory Assessment Panel met to agree their final assessments for each candidate and found three candidates to have met the minimum standard for the role. Having carefully considered the panel’s views and met with the three candidates, all of whom impressed me, I have chosen Rachel as my preferred candidate.

Rachel has a strong history of working with children and young people and a passion for improving the lives and opportunities of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. She is currently the Chief Executive at Inspiration Trust, a family of 14 schools from Nursery to Sixth Form based in Norfolk and north Suffolk, with the majority rated ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’. She is also a Trustee at Ambition Institute and has previously been an independent member of the Education Honours Committee and Trustee at the Shakespeare’s Globe.

Rachel has strong experience in education, having held various teaching and headship roles.

I am aware that the intention is for the hearing with the select committee be held before the Christmas recess. In advance of that session, I attach for your information a copy of information about the role, a description of the recruitment process and information on the preferred candidate, including Rachel’s CV.

I shall look forward to receiving the Education Select Committee’s conclusions and advice on the appointment in due course.

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

Published: 17 December 2020 Site information    Accessibility statement