Professor Maggie Atkinson (Chair)

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Professor Maggie Atkinson was the Children’s Commissioner for England from March 2010 to February 2015.

Maggie has served as England’s second Children’s Commissioner, with a statutory duty to promote and protect the rights of the child. After a 36 year career working with and for children and young people, she is a fearless defender of their entitlement to be valued and heard as young citizens, accessing what society has to offer and in turn making positive contributions to it as they grow up to be adults.

Maggie has led the Office of the Children’s Commissioner over five years when its influence has continued to increase, leading to positive changes in the life chances of England’s children and young people, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. Her work has prompted policy and practice changes. In particular these have been in the lives of asylum seeking and refugee children, children in contact with social care, the family courts and other vital services, those excluded from school, in conflict with the law, or struggling with mental and emotional health difficulties. She led the Office of the Children’s Commissioner following the strengthening of its role in the Children and Families Act 2014.

Maggie is a member of the Department of Health’s Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, with a particular focus on challenging England’s many social inequalities and their negative effects on children’s health. She is also a member of the ministerial task force on children and young people’s mental health, and a peer inspector within HMIC’s programme of police service inspections in England and Wales.

Maggie is a comprehensive school educated Cambridge graduate. Training at Sheffield University, she became a secondary school teacher of English and drama, leading a High School Department before working on the English National Curriculum, and then in training, inspection, school and service improvement in local government. She was the first Director of Children’s Services for Gateshead during radical change after the Children Act 2004. During that time she was the first solo President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) in 2008-09, leading the development of the 2020 Children and Young People’s inter-agency Workforce Strategy whilst in that role.

Maggie graduated as a Doctor in Education (EdD) at Keele University in 2008 and is now an Honorary Professor there. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Letters (DCL Hon Causa) from Northumbria University in 2010. She is a member of the University Court at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. In her spare time she is a musician, bird watcher, traveller, writer and photographer. Her ambitions include learning to speak and write Japanese, and doing more in the arts than her busy career has lately allowed.