FOCUS ON EX-STUDENT DR. MAGGIE ATKINSON
On Thursday 8th March Dr Maggie Atkinson visited school to visit students while also taking a trip down memory lane. Maggie attended Saint Pius X, then simply Pope Pius X, from 1968 to 1973, she then went on to Mexborough 6th Form College before becoming an undergraduate at Cambridge University where she read History.
During the day Maggie was taken on a tour of the school by Head Boy Jack Saunders and Head Girl Eleanor Simonite. She also met with some of our other ex-students, now in Y13 at 6th form, as well as Y8 students who were Anne Frank ‘Ambassadors’. Maggie also took part in a Q&A session with the Student Council in the library before leading assembly with Y11 in the Hall. After break she took part in Y10 History lesson in H8 and spoke to Y9 students involved in the Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University link work in the library.
Maggie has had a rich and varied life and career as a leader, manager and service improver, now working as a consultant to local government, the health service, the police and others. She and her twin brother were the first in her family ever to go to university. He has had a very successful career in advising civil engineers on geology and ground conditions, and has 2 Masters Degrees. Maggie has a “real” Doctorate which took her 6 years study whilst also working full time, and 3 honorary ones.
Maggie was an all-rounder at school. She was from a very ordinary family – her dad was a bricklayer at the pit for instance, having left school at 14, and her mum was a stay-home mum until she trained to teach infants in her 30s. But her parents were clear there was nothing stopping their children being the most ambitious they could be for their futures. She did well in he exams because she worked incredibly hard and because she was fiercely competitive! She played at 4th base in an all-conquering Pope Pius X rounders team from the age of 11 to 16, was ace Goal Shooter in an equally league-leading netball team across the same ages, and a moderately okay middle distance runner. She also sang in school choirs and productions, and gained parts in school plays. She and her twin brother were Head Boy and Head Girl in their final year. Outside school she was in a choir, and learned to play piano to Grade 6, as well as being taught to sing solos and duets.
From 2010-2015 Maggie was England’s second Children’s Commissioner, charged with promoting and protecting the rights of the child, including arguing with the media and others that children have rights in the first place, guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She was charged with leading change to the remit and powers whilst increasing the role’s impact and status in her 5-year fixed term. After that 5 years the law required that she stepped down. Since 2015 Maggie has been a management and leadership consultant, including a fixed term one-year Directorship for the nationally renowned company, iMPOWER Consulting Ltd. She undertakes a wide range of freelance consultancy and development work in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Maggie is also a President’s Medal Winner of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, an Expert Witness in the High Court, and a trusted expert technical adviser in senior public appointments
Maggie gained a Doctorate in Education (EdD) in 2007-08 after 6 years part time study at Keele University, where she also holds an Honorary Doctorate and is an Honorary Professor in Social Policy and Practice. She holds two further Honorary Doctorates, from Northumbria and Nottingham Trent Universities. She is in demand as a visiting speaker and lecturer, and is an active tweeter and blogger. Her passion for social justice and equality, fairness and doing the right thing if you have a choice between right and wrong or questionable, drive her now as they have always driven her. She cannot abide bullying, or the misuse of power by those who are strong over those who are weak.
She believes things are rarely completely impossible, even if they look as if they might be! She has 2 mottos. “Don’t get mad it’s a waste of energy. Instead be quietly, persistently subversive.” And “The people who tell you that something can’t be done, should get out of the way of the people who know it can, who are probably already doing it.” She sees the best in people, and has found that although sometimes that means she is let down, mostly people live up to the highest expectations you can set for them.
We would like to thank Maggie for taking the time to visit Saint Pius X once again and to inspire our students.