Appointment of the Children’s Commissioner for England Contents

Appendix 3: Recruitment information provided by the Department

1) The preferred candidate – Dame Rachel de Souza

Rachel has a strong history of working with children and young people and a passion for improving the lives and opportunities for 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.

Rachel has indicated no political activities or conflict of interest as part of this recruitment process.

A copy of Rachel’s CV has been attached as part of the covering email accompanying this document, for your reference.

2) Role description and person specification

Role remit

The Children’s Commissioner’s 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; and that the rights of children in vulnerable circumstances are upheld.

As such, the Commissioner has a unique role in monitoring the implementation of children’s rights, supporting the achievement of better outcomes for children and challenging breaches of their rights. Using his/her statutory powers, the Commissioner can investigate any matter affecting children and make recommendations for changes to legislation, policies or practices, so that they better promote and protect children’s rights and are compatible with children and human rights instruments.

The Commissioner is an independent champion for children, making sure their views and interests are heard and their rights are respected. The Commissioner will therefore influence the development of policy, legislation and the way public functions which affect children are delivered.

The Commissioner will also raise awareness of children’s rights and ensure that their views and interests are brought to the attention of key decision-makers, such as Government Ministers and leaders of local services, in order to ensure that services for children and young people are responsive to their needs.

The Children’s Commissioner for England operates as a corporation sole, sponsored by the Department for Education, and is appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The Commissioner’s primary function is promoting and protecting the rights of children in England.

The Commissioner is not an Ombudsman and, in general, cannot conduct investigations into the case of an individual child.

The Commissioner is bound by the Seven guiding principles of public life (Nolan Principles) and is required to account for the public funding allocated to the role

Legislative Framework

The legislative basis for the office of Children’s Commissioner is in Part 1 and Schedule 1 of the Children Act 2004 (as amended). This establishes the independence of the office and the six-year tenure of the post holder www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/contents

The legislation relating to the Children’s Commissioner is permissive, allowing significant flexibility for the Commissioner to determine how best to carry out his or her primary function of promoting and protecting children’s rights. A non-exhaustive list of activities contained in the legislation serves to illustrate the breadth of the Commissioner’s remit and includes:

In exercising the primary function, the Children’s Commissioner is required to:

Person Specification

Candidates were also expected to be able to demonstrate the following desirable criteria:

Term Dates (length of tenure): 01 March 2021 – 28 Feb 2027 (6 years)

Remuneration The post affords remuneration of between £120,000 - £130,000.

Time Commitment Full time position

3) Children’s Commissioner for England Recruitment Process

Overview

Campaign launch date

27 July

Campaign closing date

18 September

Number of applicants

63

Number of candidates invited to interview

9

Number of candidates found appointable

3

Advertisement

The competition was launched on 27 July 2020 for a period of eight weeks, closing on 18 September. The job advertisement can be found here: https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/appointment/childrens-commissioner-for-england/.

The post was also advertised online in The Times from 17 August to 17 September 2020 and The Telegraph from 14 August to 14 September, and was advertised through social media and also on the Children’s Commissioner’s website.

A copy of the advertisement is available in Annex A.

Advisory Assessment Panel

As outlined in the Governance Code for Public Appointments,6 the purpose of the Advisory Assessment Panel is to assist the Secretary of State in his decision-making for the role of the next Children’s Commissioner.

The panel comprised of:

Sifting of Applications

A total of 63 applications were received when the competition closed. Diversity data related to the longlist can be found below.

The panel met to sift the applications and recommended seven candidates were invited to interview as they were deemed to have met the bar. Following review by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State requested an additional two candidates were invited to interview. A total shortlist of nine candidates were invited to the interview stage, though two of the nine candidates pulled out of the competition in advance of the final interview.

Interview stage

Candidates were assessed against multiple components during the interview stage.

Firstly, the seven candidates which were interviewed (note, two withdrew before the interviews) each met a panel of three young people. During the panel session, each candidate ran a 10-minute consultation exercise with the young people on a topic of their choice related to issues impacting children and young people in England. The young people then spent an additional 15 minutes asking follow-up questions, to explore the candidate’s suitability to the role. The interview panel took account of the views and scores of the young people’s panel against the criteria in their consideration of the shortlisted candidates.

Candidates were also required to complete a self-evaluative emotional capital survey, which assessed their emotional and social competencies. This survey provided a summary report for the panel on candidate’s signature-strengths and development needs, along with suggested probing questions that were used at interview stage. This element of the interview stage was not scored.

Finally, candidates were invited to interview. As part of this, candidates were provided with a scenario exercise regarding a topical issue facing children and young people, following which they were asked a set of questions to assess their strengths against a number of essential and desirable criteria (as outlined in section A). The remainder of the interview related to questions based on the candidates’ experience and strengths, assessed against each of the essential criteria.

Following the final interviews, the advisory assessment panel met to agree their final assessments for each candidate and deemed three candidates to have met the minimum standard.

The outcomes of the interview stage were presented to the Secretary of State, who agreed to meet with the three candidates who were deemed appointable before making his decision on the preferred candidate. Following the meetings, the Secretary of State deemed Dame Rachel De Souza as his preferred candidate for the role of Children’s Commissioner for England. This has been approved by the Prime Minister, and as such, the Education Select Committee have been invited to hold a pre-appointment hearing with her and report on their conclusions.

Diversity data1

Table A: Gender

Percent Male

Percent Female

Applicants

40

60

Table B: Ethnicity

Percent White

Percent Mixed / multiple ethnic group

Percent Asian/ Asian British

Percent Black/ Black British

Percent Other Ethnicity

Applicants2

71

N/A

12

N/A

N/A

Table C: Disability

Percent Disability declared

Percent Disability not declared

Applicants

20

80

Notes on diversity data

1. Departments must consider their obligations under data protection legislation when sharing this data with select committees. Candidates must be made aware at the outset of the campaign that their data will be shared with the select committee in this way. The data should not be shared in a way which means that individuals are identifiable.

2. Departments should follow ONS guidance on statistical disclosure control to meet this requirement. Where there are fewer than 5 candidates in any given category, diversity data must not be shared as this is potentially identifiable. For example if you have six women and four men on a shortlist - you should not give any gender information.

Annex A

Vacancy Description

The Commissioner operates as a corporation sole, sponsored by the Department for Education and is appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The Commissioner’s primary function is promoting and protecting the rights of children in England.

The legislative basis for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner is in Part 1 and Schedule 1 of the Children Act 2004 (as amended). This establishes the independence of the office and the six year tenure of the post holder.

www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/contents

The legislation relating to the Children’s Commissioner is permissive, allowing significant flexibility for the Commissioner to determine how best to carry out his or her primary function of promoting and protecting children’s rights.

The Commissioner is not an ombudsman and, in general, cannot conduct investigations into the case of an individual child.

The Commissioner is bound by the Seven guiding principles of public life (Nolan Principles) and is required to account for the public funding allocated to the role. In 2019/20, the Commissioner was allocated a budget of £2.73m.

The Commissioner is also allowed to appoint staff to assist in the delivery of their functions. Currently, the Commissioner employs around 25 staff.

Person Specification

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

Additional Information

The preferred candidate for the post of Children’s Commissioner for England may be required to appear before a Parliamentary Select Committee prior to appointment.




Published: 17 December 2020 Site information    Accessibility statement