Anne Longfield, the UK’s Children’s Commissioner, will be ending her six-year tenure and is not going without a fight – for the poorer children who she and many others believe that the UK Government has left behind as a result of “institutional bias”, which people in the UK and abroad will understand to be a result of social class system.
In her speech, Anne Longfield will point to what is largely understood to be endemic apathy of Whitehall officials: distant, unknowledgeable and uninterested in the children across the UK for whom they are responsible as workers for the citizenry.
“I have been shocked to discover how many officials have never met any of the children they are responsible for,” Anne will say.
“I have to force officials and ministers to the table, to watch them sit through a presentation, maybe ask a question, and then vacantly walk away.”
“What all this shows is an institutional bias against children.”Anne Longfield
The speech goes on to expose the UK’s Treasury as stealing money from children while other sectors benefit, adding little more than £1bn to children’s catchup needs post the Covid-19 pandemic, while giving £10B and sometimes 4 times as much – billions of pounds to other sectors of the economy.
£1 Billion split between 800,000 children works out at £1,250 per pupil, which is roughly the wage of 1 UK teaching assistant for just one month.
Anne will say: “If the government is really focused on educational catchup, it wouldn’t even countenance pushing 800,000 children into the type of devastating poverty which can have a much bigger impact on their life chances than the school they go to or the catchup tuition they get.”
Anne Longfield will challenge the government today. In a preview of her speech, she will add: “Are you serious about children, and their life chances? Are you serious about ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’? And will you put those children who were already disadvantaged at the centre of it? This is not just about missing a few chapters in a textbook. The fact that after 14 years of compulsory education almost one in five children leave without basic qualifications is “abysmal” —
The BBC added into their report today about Anne’s outgoing speech – which will be hosted to around 2,000 powerful people working in the public sector and in the education sector in the UK – a case review example of a boy called Jacob who died after being failed by the system.
The BBC reports:
“Jacob, 16, was found dead in his bedroom in April 2019. A serious case review showed he had not been provided any type of education for 21 months.
Jacob was “coerced and controlled” into committing crimes for drug gangs.
The report exposed failings by the local authorities and police, which left him to be targeted by so-called “county lines” gangs.
Ms Longfield will say he is just one of many young people failed by Whitehall officials who need to rethink their priorities.”BBC News
It is understood that in the UK as of 2021, that up to 20% of children fall through the gaps and reach the age of 16 without any formal qualifications that they can progress their lives with – understood to be an anomaly in what are considered advanced or world-leading nations with ministers and officials paid high salaries to take care of them.
Anne Longfield will say in her speech today: “So many seem to view them as remote concepts or data points on an annual return.
“This is how children fall through the gaps – because too often the people in charge of the systems they need simply don’t see them and try to understand their world.”