The County Durham Children and Families Partnership has been awarded the highest level of recognition by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE.

The gold commendation has been awarded for the successful events which took place under the banner of the Takeover Challenge in 2016.

The Children and Families Partnership (CFP) is a partnership with representation from Durham County Council, the voluntary sector, police, health and schools/colleges, with a strategic responsibility for delivering better outcomes for children, young people and their families in County Durham.

The Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge takes place in November each year, which sees organisations across England opening their doors to children and young people to take over adult roles.

It puts children and young people in decision-making positions and encourages organisations and businesses to hear their views.

Children gain an insight into the adult world and organisations benefit from a fresh perspective about their work.

In one case, five students from the Peter Jones Enterprise course took over the Principal roles for the day.

Amelia-Jayne Chapman, 17, from Peterlee, and Beth Swales, 18, from Hartlepool, took over as Vice Principals of finance and James Harker, 16, from Peterlee, was named Assistant Principal for curriculum operations for the day.

Bobby Davies, 17, from Hartlepool, took over the top job of Principal of the college, and finally Mark Hardman, 16, also from Hartlepool, took over as Vice Principal of curriculum and performance.

The students spent the day shadowing the college’s leadership team, getting an inside view of how a large organisation is managed, and got the opportunity to offer their own unique input and assisting with their duties.

The gold commendation is for work such as this that took place in 2016, but now the CFP is putting in place actions to embed engagement with children and young people in all partners’ work throughout the year.

Margaret Whellans, Corporate Director for Children and Young People’s Services and Chair of the Children and Families Partnership said: “It is really important that organisations and businesses hear the views of young people and apply these in their work.

“The Takeover Challenge is a great way to introduce young people to the world of work through fun and inspirational activities that benefit everyone involved.”

Cllr Ossie Johnson, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, said: “I have been really pleased to hear about all the great events that have happened in Durham and recognition from the Children’s Commissioner is a great way to celebrate this success.”