Tes people of the year: Anne Longfield

Children's commissioner has become a leading voice in challenging the sector over off-rolling, exclusion and behaviour

John Roberts

Children's commissioner Anne Longfield

The role of children’s commissioner was created 15 years ago to promote the rights of children.

But in the past year Anne Longfield has raised the profile of this office in a way that has not been done before by speaking out strongly on issues such as off-rolling, exclusions, the use of isolation booths and the rise of children being home educated.

At the beginning of the year she produced a report, which accompanied a Channel 4 documentary, calling for a compulsory register of children who are being educated at home to be created.

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She warned that there were tens of thousands of children in England receiving no school education. Longfield described these children as being "off-grid" and invisible to local authorities.

Off-rolling and exclusion have been high on the political agenda anyway in 2019.

Ofsted has vowed to crack down on schools that meet their definition of “off-rolling” – removing pupils from their roll in the school’s interest rather than that of the pupils.

And this year has seen the publication of the Timpson review, which made a series of recommendations to address concerns about the increase in exclusions.

Strong and confident player in education system

But the strongest voice on these issues has arguably been Longfield herself.

She told MPs that her office will produce figures showing the proportion of pupils leaving each school in the country to be home-educated.

Longfield suggested that the data shows that around one in 10 schools is often off-rolling or what she described as “semi-off-rolling”.

And she used the same Commons education committee hearing to weigh in on behaviour management, by calling on Ofsted and the Department for Education to tell schools that it is not acceptable to put children in what she described “intolerable” isolation booths.

In an interview with Tes she has also called on the DfE to investigate schools and multi academy trusts that have particularly high exclusion rates.

Longfield has established herself and her office as a strong and confident player in the education system, ready to challenge the government and those running schools when she feels children’s interests are not being looked after.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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