It was whilst we were celebrating red Nose Day 2009 on Friday 13th March that the Children’s Commissioner for Wales came in to meet some pupils from our Reporters Club and answer some questions.
The group had 3 tasks; First to INVESTIGATE, that would give us some questions we wanted to ask so we could LEARN about the role of the Commissioner and Keith himself and then find out what would interest other young people so we could REPORT back what we had learnt. [pupils from year 6/Dosbarth Aneurin Bevan Chloe C, Chloe R, Kiaya asked the questions making sure that there was lots of eye contact and of course lots of note taking. Jordon took all the pictures below using an old camera.]
INVESTIGATE we asked our friends & Parents what questions they wanted asking, sadly most did not know who or whatthe Children's Commissioner was, so that became the second question. We looked online at the Children Commissioner for Wales Website and reports online.
The role of the commissioner is to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children and young people. We found out that Norway was the first country to have a Children's Commissioner way back in 1981. But Wales was the first in the UK to have one, Peter Clarke took up the post of Children’s Commissioner for Wales on 1 March 2001 for a seven year term, but sadly died in January 2007. Keith took up the post on the 1 March 2008 and has been very busy.
The United Nations Charter of Rights of the Child UNCRC was on the School Council noticeboard [it is the long blue poster.]
We gathered about 24 questions and then decided which of those to ask. Asking questions is easy but listening, understanding and recording the answers is trickier. This is what we had written as a record of our interview.
1).How did you get to be the Children’s Commissioner for Wales?
I had to apply; I saw the post after it was advertised across Wales. Eventually I had to go through two interviews; the first was with a group of children aged 11-18. They asked me loads of questions and then asked if I would draw a picture of one of the Human Rights, I ask article 12. Next I was interviewed by a cross party group of Assembly Members. Then it went quiet for a month before they rang and told me I had the job.
2). Are you disappointed that most of us and our parents have not heard of the Children’s Commissioner?
3).What was your typical day? & what do you do on your day off?
4.) What is the best memory from your childhood? What is the thing you most regret doing or not doing?
5.) What are you most proud of doing, what would you most like to do?
6.) How will knowing my rights as a child improve my life? Also is it more important that we know our rights or the responsibilities that go with these rights?
7.) We live in an area of high ‘child poverty’. We always try and help others and raise funds for Children in Need, Comic Relief, Marie Curie, poppy appeal….. How much do you think the problems of child poverty are about attitude rather than income?
8.) We have done a lot of work with send my friend to school campaign. Yet a big problem in the area is truancy, how can we get children here to value their time in schools? Is sending their parents to prison a good idea?
9.) How far should our parent’s rights to choose our religion restrict our rights to education or medical care?
10.) Were you ever canned as a child? Do you think we should bring back the cane?
11.) Do you have a pet?
12.) What targets have you set yourself to know if you have been successful in your job?
13.) Children get invited to openings of leisure centres do you think we should be invited to say what we would like in them before they get built?
14.) Should there be a ‘fat tax’ to make junk food less attractive than healthier alternatives?
15.) If the age we can vote is changed to 16 do you think politicians will listen to young people more seriously?
16.) Most important Question – as it is Red Nose Day, do you want to buy a red nose or one of our cakes?
17.) Thank you very much is there anything you would like to add?
For his first year in office the children presented him with a birthday cake (albeit for a year and 11 days) and thanked him for coming in.
[But the important thing was how impressed the children were that someone like Keith did come out to answer their questions and listen to their ideas. In fact they were so impressed that they wanted to try the School Ambassador's scheme whereby they promote the UNCRC and the work of the Children's Commission.]
Of course whatever we do we try and have fun and take pride in our work.
This year we also interviewed Moira a reporter from the Echo, The Chief Police Officer, our MP Kevin Brennan and the High Sheriff of South Glammorgan. There are of course loads more interviews on the old website when we get it back up.