Report on Children’s Commissioner pre-appointment hearing

19 October 2009

The Children, Schools and Families Committee published its eighth report today, on their pre-appointment hearing for Maggie Atkinson, the Government's preferred candidate to take over as the Children's Commissioner for England in February 2010

The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families wrote to the Committee Chairman on 6 October 2009, to say that Maggie Atkinson, Director of Children's Services at Gateshead Council, had been identified as the Government's preferred candidate to take up the post of Children's Commissioner for England when the term of office of the incumbent, Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green, comes to an end in February 2010.

In its report the Committee said:

"We welcome the opportunity afforded by the pre-appointment hearing process to increase scrutiny by Parliament, on behalf of the public, of key public appointments. However, our role is closely circumscribed, which limits the value of involving select committees in the process, particularly as we have no means of comparing the preferred candidate with other applicants.

"While we are satisfied that Maggie Atkinson demonstrated a high degree of professional competence, we feel unable to endorse her appointment, as we would like to have seen more sign of determination to assert the independence of the role, to challenge the status quo on children's behalf, and to stretch the remit of the post, in particular by championing children's rights."

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