The role of Children’s Commissioner was created by the Children Act (2004) to promote awareness of the views and interests of children in England. The Office has the status of a non-departmental public body (NDPB). The Department for Education is the sponsor.
Respective responsibilities are set out in a framework agreement which supports the work of both organisations and ensures the Children’s Commissioner’s independence, propriety and value for money.
The post is currently held by Dr Maggie Atkinson, who took office on 1 March 2010. She is supported by an office of staff and Grant-in-Aid from the Department for Education. The Children’s Commissioner is a corporation sole and is not an agent of the crown.
The Children Act (2004) specifies the Commissioner’s general functions:
In carrying out these functions, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner must have regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In 2010, as part of a government-wide review of arms-length bodies (ALBs), the Secretary of State (SofS) invited Dr John Dunford to undertake an independent review of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. John Dunford’s report concluded that the role of the Commissioner was necessary and important, and made 46 recommendations to improve impact, including ones which require a change to the legal framework.
On 6 December 2010, the Minister of State for Children and Families announced through a Written Ministerial Statement to Parliament that the Government had accepted, in principle, John Dunford’s recommendations. Subsequently, a DfE consultation on legislative proposals ran from July to September 2011.
The draft legislation underwent Pre-legislative Scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Human Rights during July to November 2012.
Written ministerial statement on the publication of the independent review of the Children’s Commissioner.
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This framework agreement sets out the respective responsibilities of the Department for Education and the Children’s Commissioner.
Information on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), including a breakdown of its articles and access to UK reports.
An independent review of the office, role and functions of the Children’s Commissioner for England.