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New children’s commissioner for England announced

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has announced the next children’s commissioner for England.

Dame Rachel de Souza will take up the role of children’s commissioner for England in March 2021 and replace Anne Longfield who has held the post since 2015.

Gavin Williamson had named Dame de Souza as his preferred candidate and she had a pre-appointment hearing in front of the Education Select Committee in December following Williamson’s endorsement.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “It’s my pleasure to confirm Dame Rachel as the next Children’s Commissioner for England. She has spent her career protecting children’s most important right – the right to an excellent education. She has a wealth of experience in improving the outcomes for thousands of children in under-performing schools and working with families in a diverse range of disadvantaged communities.

“I know that in this new role she will deliver positive change and champion the voices of children in this country, at a point where it is required more than ever. With her expertise and knowledge she will keep the momentum up in protecting and promoting children’s rights.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Anne Longfield for all her work and dedication over almost six years. I look forward to seeing her continue this important work in whatever she does next when her term ends in February,” he said.

Dame Rachel de Souza has spent more than 25 years’ working in education and has delivered academic and organisational changes across a multitude of different schools. She is currently the Chief Executive at Inspiration Trust - a multi-academy trust based in Norfolk and north Suffolk, including 14 academies – which is recognised as one of the country’s best comprehensive schools’ groups with a reputation for turning around under-performance.

Rachel was appointed a Dame in the New Year’s Honours in 2014 for her services to Education.

The Children’s Commissioner role was created by the Children Act 2004 and has been strengthened by the Children and Families Act 2014. The Children’s Commissioner role is to promote and protect the rights of all children in England with a particular focus on those with difficulties or challenges in their lives, such as those living away from home, in or leaving care, or receiving social care services.

Dame Rachel de Souza said: “It is a great honour to be the next Children’s Commissioner for England. For many years I’ve been a passionate advocate for children and young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Inspiration Trust has done some fantastic work to support young people in Norfolk and north Suffolk, delivering an excellent education so that they can achieve their potential and flourish. As Children’s Commissioner I’m looking forward to standing up for children across England.

“We all know just how difficult Covid has been for children and families up and down the country, I am going to play my part in helping level up opportunities for children, and ensuring their welfare everywhere, as we come through this difficult time and look towards a more positive future,” she added.

Anne Longfield OBE will continue in her role as the Children’s Commissioner for England until 28 February 2021. Anne Longfield said: “The role of Children’s Commissioner is an honour and a privilege – holding to account, without fear or favour, those who make decisions affecting children’s lives, and shining a light on the many different issues facing children today. I want to congratulate Rachel on her appointment to this fantastic job and wish her the very best as she prepares to start her term in office, in March.”

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