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Speaker Biography

Dr Maggie Atkinson

Dr Maggie Atkinson
Maggie became Children’s Commissioner for England in March 2010. She brings to the attention of those in power the concerns and interests of England’s children and young people. Her role is to ensure policies and laws affecting children and young people are influenced by their wishes and aspirations, and that their rights are promoted and protected in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as ratified by the UK government in 1991.

Maggie works on the assumption that children and young people are citizens now, with much to offer and a right to be heard. She is a passionate advocate for children, and an optimist about their chances when adults refuse to settle for less than the best on their behalf. She lives by her conviction that most children and young people are positive contributors to society, and when they are not, adults must provide the right challenge, support and advocacy to turn their lives around.

Comprehensive-school educated, graduating from Cambridge University in 1978, Maggie trained to teach English, History and Drama at Sheffield University. She then taught in two contrasting schools for almost 12 years as an accomplished teacher, and as Head of English and Drama in her second school.

From 1989, she worked first on National Curriculum initiatives, and then in local education authorities from urban settings to shire counties, focusing on advice, inspection, training, and the management of change.

In 2003 Maggie became Chief Education Officer in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, and from 2005 to 2010 was its first Director of Children’s Services (DCS.) During her years in Gateshead Maggie was also the first sole President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) in 2008-09.

After six years’ part time study, in 2008 Maggie gained a Doctorate in Education (EdD) from Keele University. In 2010 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (DCL Honoris Causa) by the University of Northumbria, recognising her life’s work with children and young people.

Maggie chaired the national Expert Group on the Children and Young People’s workforce in 2008, and was then inaugural chair of the national Children and Young People’s Workforce Partnership. She is now a member of the Secretary of State for Health’s Children’s Outcomes Framework Strategy Group, a “Leading Thinker” for the National Education Trust, and an adviser to the Creative Learning Alliance.

Maggie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacture (RSA,) the Institute of Administration and Management (InstAM) and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM.)


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