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Children’s Commissioner visits Plymouth and Exeter schools to hear about what children care about

Dame Rachel de Souza in the South West to talk about The Big Ambition

The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, was in Plymouth and Exeter recently, visiting Marine Academy Primary,  Marine Academy Plymouth and Cranbrook Education Campus, which are all part of the Ted Wragg Trust. The Children’s Commissioner’s role is to promote and protect the rights of children, especially the most vulnerable and speak up for them to ensure their opinions are heard.  

On Wednesday the 27th September Dame de Souza was given a student-led tour of Marine Academy Primary and then met with a group of local children including from Tor Bridge Primary and Ernesettle Community School;  in the afternoon she led a discussion at Marine Academy Secondary which students from neighbouring secondary school Lipson Cooperative Academy also attended.

Dame de Souza met with groups of children in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4 from schools across Exeter and East Devon including Cranbrook Education Campus, Exwick Heights Primary School, West Exe and Isca Academy on Thursday the 28th September.

Children talked with the Children’s Commissioner about some of the biggest challenges affecting them and their families, what they would change if they could and what they’d like to say to a future Prime Minister.

She also took some time to visit the school's Community Hub, EX5 Alive, which provides cradle to career support for children, young people and families in Cranbrook and East Devon to improve the quality of life within Cranbrook and the surrounding area. They work with a wide range of external partners, including the Live and Move Sport England fund (Move More Cranbrook), Exeter Foodbank, Action for Children, Parental Minds, Cranbrook Medical for social prescribing and Reach Academy in Feltham to ensure they provide the highest quality of community support for local young people and their families.

Dame de Souza is in the South West to raise awareness about The Big Ambition, which is a national survey of children and young people across England, and the local students she met have taken part. Children are encouraged to complete the survey so that in the lead up to the next General Election, decision-makers know what children think is important.

Once completed the Children’s Commissioner will take the thoughts, opinions and ideas of children who completed the survey to those in Government to ensure that they listen to the voices of young people on what they think should be done to improve children’s lives.

The Big Ambition survey will be open until the 15th of December and can be completed here.

Moira Marder, CEO of the Ted Wragg Multi-Academy Trust said:

“It was great to have Dame de Souza visit some of our schools - the work her office does is so important and the children really enjoyed hearing about the purpose behind The Big Ambition Survey. I know they really appreciated the opportunity to share their ideas about what matters with people who have the ear of policy makers.

“At the Ted Wragg Trust we are completely on board with the Children Commissioner’s mission to speak up for children, especially those who are vulnerable, and everyone was delighted to be a part of her mission to make the world a better place for young people.”

Leigh Withers, Principal of Marine Academy Plymouth said:

“I am grateful to Dame de Souza for taking the time to visit us and speak to students about The Big Ambition survey.  It’s vital that children feel their views matter and that adults listen to them, this is something we make sure to do at Marine Academy Plymouth and it’s brilliant that the Children’s Commissioner is doing this at a national level.”

Stephen Farmer, Head of Campus at Cranbrook Education Campus said:

“It was brilliant to welcome Dame de Souza to Cranbrook today, her passion for promoting children’s ideas is obvious and the group of students that met with her were really interested to hear about how their ideas would be fed back to those running the country.

“At the Campus we believe that ensuring children are engaged in their learning is key to making sure they succeed and we are so proud that our students are taking part in shaping the country for the children of the future.”

Freddy and Abi in Year 7 said:

“We talked about vapes and how to make the situation better by not making them colourful or flavoured. We also talked about shopkeepers being more responsible for what young people buy, for example energy drinks and vapes. After that we discussed feeling safe walking home or taking the bus and the school environment. We want to introduce more safe environments, like youth clubs and have more people who are trained to help children who have additional needs.”

Kai in Year 10 said:

“ The main things that the Year 10’s talked about were: transport to and from school, financial worries, environmental issues, help for mental health issues, online safety, young people’s opinions, safety outside of school and what we would say to the prime minister if we had the chance. The things that were most focused on and agreed on was online safety and help for mental health issues. Overall, it felt like the commissioner and her people were really listening and it seems like they want to use our responses and opinions.”