Former England Children’s Commissioner becomes North Yorkshire Safeguarding Board Chair

North Yorkshire’s new chair for overseeing children’s safeguarding is the former Children’s Commissioner for England, Professor Maggie Atkinson.

Professor Atkinson, who will chair the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board for the county, has vowed to uphold its national reputation for the support it gives to vulnerable children.

“North Yorkshire has a great track record for the way its partners work together, listening to the voice of children and young people and helping children who are struggling and who are in danger.  That is what attracted me to the post,” she said.

“Integral to my appointment process was being interviewed by a panel of young people who receive our services.  Their questions were very strong, very forthright.  North Yorkshire listens to young people and that is very important to me.

“North Yorkshire is a very large county full of beautiful, very different places. But even in beautiful places there are children living in poverty, children who are vulnerable.  The county council and its partners know this very well and they work hard together to make things more equal through ground-breaking initiatives. 

“Safeguarding boards are an expression of the strength of the faith we put in the next generation. For that reason North Yorkshire is an exciting place to be and my job will be to make sure the wonderful partnership work that exists continues and develops. “

Professor Atkinson grew up and was educated in Barnsley.  A Cambridge graduate she went on to become head of English in a school in Dewsbury and then a national curriculum coordinator in Yorkshire.  She was the first to be appointed into one of the new roles of Director of Children’s Services, working for Gateshead in 2003.  She is also a past president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.

Since stepping down as Children’s Commissioner in 2015 she has taken up the chair of the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board on the Wirral and is chair of The New Direction in London which campaigns for all children in London to have access to arts and culture.

“We are delighted to have Maggie Atkinson appointed as our new safeguarding board chair” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for the Children and Young People’s Service. “She is one of the country’s great champions for vulnerable children and young people and the fact she was attracted to North Yorkshire is testament to our reputation in this field.  We very much look forward to developing our safeguarding work further under her leadership.”

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