Tag Archives: Speaker

Polly Sweeney

Polly%20SweeneyEducation, Health and Care Plans: legal rights of disabled children under the Children and Families Act 2014

Affiliation: Associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell LLP

Biography: Polly has experience in a broad range of public law practice, and specialises in community care, healthcare and medical treatment and education law (including representing parents at special educational needs and disability tribunals). She is also experienced in cases in the Court of Protection regarding mental capacity, best interests and deprivation of liberty, and is regularly instructed by the Official Solicitor to act on behalf of vulnerable adults on a range of health and welfare matters including capacity to marry or engage in sexual relations and disputes about contact and residence. She is involved in a number of pro bono initiatives and regularly delivers legal advice workshops to parents, carers and charities.

Invalid button attribute.


Nigel Ellis

Nigel Ellis picCommonly occurring problems experienced by disabled children and their families

Executive Director, Local Government Ombudsman

Biography: Nigel joined the Local Government Ombudsman in June 2010. Before this he was Head of National Inspection at the health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission. Previously, Nigel was Head of Investigations at the Healthcare Commission, where he led high profile NHS investigations, such as the one into Mid Staffordshire Trust. He has worked in different roles in the voluntary sector, including several years as Director at the MS Society, a national charity for people with multiple sclerosis.

Invalid button attribute.

Dr Maggie Atkinson

Maggie‘We want to help people see things our way’

Children’s Commissioner for England since March 2010

Biography: Dr Maggie Atkinson is the second post holder in this vital role, which enables her to promote and protect the rights of the child, and to encourage children and young people, families, opinion shapers, policy makers and practitioners to join her. After a 35-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 making positive contributions to the society in which they will, in their turn, become adults. Maggie has led the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in a period 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 among them. Her office’s small team has helped to prompt policy and practice changes for 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 is now leading the Office of the Children’s Commissioner through the strengthening of its role and remit that will follow from legislative change being made during 2013-14. She 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.

Maggie is a Cambridge graduate. Training at Sheffield University, she was a secondary school teacher of English and Drama, including leading a high school department, before working on a National Curriculum English Language initiative 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 changes following the Children Act 2004. During her six years there she was the first solo President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) in 2008-09.

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.

Alison Thompson

Alison%20thumbnailAccessing Services: the view from a parent

Alison Thompson is an author, speaker and mum to Daniel, who was diagnosed with ADHD when he was six. Frustrated with the lack of ADHD books written for parents in the UK, Alison wrote her own book, The Boy From Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD in 2013. Since then she has spoken at many events and conferences, and has written articles for Primary Times and SEN Magazine. Alison is the voluntary parent advisor for her local support group, ADHD Oxfordshire, and is currently training to be a coach, specialising in supporting parents and teachers who want to help ADHD children reach their full potential.


Professor Janet Read and Dr Clare Blackburn

Janet%20read%20photoSocio-economic influences on outcomes for disabled children

Professor Janet Read

Affiliation: Warwick Medical School

Biography: Janet Read is an Associate Professor (Reader) Emeritus at the University of Warwick Medical School and an Honorary Professor at Cardiff Law School. Her research and teaching focus on the human rights of disabled children and adults and their families, together with the development of provision to enable them to exercise those rights. Her recent work is concerned with the characteristics and circumstances of disabled children and their households in the UK and elsewhere with particular reference to the impact of socio-economic factors. Her publications include Disabled People and European Human Rights (2003), Disabled People and the Right to Life (2008) both with Luke Clements; Disabled Children. A Legal Handbook (2011) with Steve Broach and Luke Clements.

Dr Clare Blackburn
Affiliation: Warwick Medical School

Biography: Dr Clare Blackburn is a Principal Teaching Fellow in Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick. Her research and teaching interests are in the field of health inequalities and tackling health inequalities. She is primarily interested in the way social and material circumstances shape health and experiences of caring and being cared for, particularly for disabled children and their families. Recent research has examined the social and material circumstances of disabled children and their families in the UK, and the association between exposure to socio-economic disadvantage in early childhood and the development of disability in later childhood.

Invalid button attribute.



Professor Chris Oliver

Professor Chris OliverMeeting the needs of children with severe intellectual disability: From response to strategy

Affiliation: Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham

Biography: Chris Oliver is Professor of Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He trained as a clinical psychologist at Edinburgh University before completing a PhD on self-injurious behaviour in people with intellectual disability at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. He is currently researching early intervention, behaviour disorders in people with severe intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder, behavioural phenotypes in genetic syndromes and neuropsychological and behavioural assessment for people with severe intellectual disability. He has published over 100 peer reviewed articles in scientific journals, is Editor in Chief for the Journal of Intellectual Disability Research and serves on a number of scientific advisory committees for syndrome support groups.

Invalid button attribute.