My eldest son Bobby is somehow on the verge of becoming of senior school age, so for me, today was spent on one of many tours of schools to work out exactly what our options are and where I would like to end up spending the next five years driving to and from twice a day in the name of my child's education.
We have waited a long time for it, so it's good to see the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission publish its first progress report today. Mandated to assess how the government is doing in reducing child poverty and increasing social mobility, the report aims to provide a 'state of the nation' account of how the UK fairs.
All of us want our children to live happy and fulfilled lives. To that end we do everything possible to make it happen. We get them great pre-school care, fight or pay for places at the best schools we can find, drive them to sports matches, badger them about homework, applaud loudly at school concerts, and help them apply for good university places.
Friday is the Day of the Girl - a moment to recognise that children, especially girls, despite their own enormous determination, often face insurmountable challenges to fulfilling their potential. They face wholly undeserved social, cultural and economic barriers. Although there are more obvious girl-specific barriers, in much of Africa malaria is one of the greatest single obstacles to the fulfilment of a girl's potential - and one of the cheapest to remedy. Not only is it one of the biggest killers of children under five (around half a million children a year in Africa), but for those who survive the bout of malaria, it can be recurrently debilitating for years afterwards.
A year ago, almost to the day, I visited a refugee settlement on the Syria border, and it changed everything for me... Nothing prepared me for what I found a year ago. Instead of a population in need of aid, I found families outraged by the international silence surrounding the brutality of the conflict they had fled.
When we think of a humanitarian emergency, we don't necessarily think first of education. We think of immediate, life-saving needs, like clean water, health care and shelter. Of course, in Syria and across the region, these supplies and services are absolutely vital for children and families living with the daily consequences of conflict and displacement. However, learning is just as urgent. Almost two million Syrian children have been forced to drop out of school over the past year. For refugee children, being in school offers a safe space to remember that they are children, to feel hope for the future, to play and to begin the process of healing the emotional damage of all they have experienced.
It is imperative that post-Millennium Development Goals, currently being negotiated, do not overlook the plight of the disabled people and children. It is time for concrete action to ensure that particularly children with disabilities have access to education, protection from violence and abuse; and opportunity to have their voices heard. This is not just a development agenda it is also a human rights issue.
The past three months of my life have been engaged in managing and shaping a fascinating project called films4peace, which reaches its fruition this weekend on the UN's International Day of Peace on 21 September. It's an unusual beast: the brainchild of the highly creative South African curator and art historian Mark Coetzee...