Dunstable pupils help launch Government review to find what family means to people

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, made a special visit to Ardley Hill Academy in Dunstable to launch her highly anticipated Family Review.

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 30th May 2022, 3:34 pm

The review has been commissioned by the Government to provide better understanding of what family means to people, how services support families, and what can be done to improve these services.

Pupils and their families from Ardley Hill Academy and Lark Rise Academy, both part of Chiltern Learning Trust, attended the event where they were given the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations with Dame de Souza about what family means to them.

Dame de Souza has been going around the country to hear from families, from all areas and backgrounds, with the intention of ensuring the voices of children, parents, carers, local services and communities are captured and heard.

Dame de Souza with Ardley Hill and Lark Rise pupils

She also attended the Level Trust Annual Poverty Conference in Dunstable on the same day, Thursday May 26, where she shared her recent work with those in attendance.

“It was lovely to be back in Luton and Dunstable. First, for the Level Trust conference where I spoke about my vision for disadvantaged children in England and I heard about all the great work school leaders are doing across the area to support vulnerable children,” she said. “Then off to Ardley Hill Academy, with Lark Rise Academy also joining, to speak about the importance of family within their community as part of my Family Review.

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“Thank you to the children, parents and staff for taking the time to talk to me about such an important topic. It's clear the values of family they spoke about today - love, trust, communication - are echoed in the values of this school community.”

Ardley Hill Academy was one of the select schools chosen to be visited by the Children’s Commissioner to launch the review, with questions such as, ‘what words do you think of when you think of family’, and ‘who do you consider to be part of your family’ being asked by Dame de Souza.

Steve Fox, Headteacher, said: “The family and the community are at the heart of all we do at Ardley Hill Academy. The pupils were very pleased to see Dame de Souza and to be part of this event. I am sure their ideas and thoughts will have given Dame De Souza some super thoughts and feedback to take back to Westminster.”

Adrian Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Chiltern Learning Trust, said: “It was a great pleasure to receive Dame de Souza into Ardley Hill Academy with Lark Rise Primary pupils. The work that Dame De Souza is promoting around families is at the very heart of what education should be about. It should be a true partnership with family and community. The children were very pleased and proud to see Dame de Souza.”

Once the Family Review is completed, this will help bring together evidence on the effectiveness of current support networks, services and programmes available to families, and areas where more support is needed.