She certainly didn't show any to this home educating parent who's email to her and reply from her are copied below.
She seems unconcerned by her own ignorance of the law around education, has no respect for the general public and feels no need to be in anyway answerable to the ordinary citizen.
This woman is already a Group Director Learning and Children and Director of Children's Services, but she seems to be under an illusion that she is not an employee of the public but is answerable only to her political sponsor bully boy Balls and her own career path.
Her email and address might make you consider sharing your opinion and feelings about her, don't let me stop you.
From: M Atkinson [mailto:MAtkinson@Gateshead.Gov.UK
Sent: Monday, October 26, 2009 1:30 PM
To: Anita Dowson
Cc: Mike Fortune Wood
Subject: RE: Home Education - Select committee interview
Thankyou for this message. As I do not take up the post of Children's Commissioner until 1st March 2010 having formally been confirmed in the appointment last week, I have referred this commentary and your offer of a meeting to staff at 11 Milion for reference and any action. I note, but have no intention of responding now or in future to, your commentary on either your dismay, or what in your personal opinion are my shortcomings.
Anita please send this email chain in fulll to 11 Million, for their advice as to whether such a meeting falls within the remit, and any subsequent action.
Dr. Maggie Atkinson
Group Director Learning and Children and Director of Children's Services
tel: 0191 433 2700
fax: 0191 478 3875
From: Mike Fortune Wood
Sent: 25 October 2009 08:49
To: Maggie Atkinson
Subject: Home Education - Select committee interview
Dear Ms Atkinson
I have just read some of the evidence offered by your self to the Education select committee regarding your future appointment as children's commissioner. I was particularly interested in your comments regarding home education. You are quoted as saying: "I will take you back, if I may, to when I was an adviser in Birmingham city council, where there were quite large numbers of home-educated children-it is getting on for 20 years now since I worked in Birmingham. At that time, as an adviser I had a right and a duty not only to knock on the doors of people who were choosing electively to educate their children at home, but simply to go into their premises and, on the most headline of bases, to look at whether the environment was right, whether there were age-appropriate materials in use, and whether the children seemed okay. They were never interviewed on their own, they were never taken on one side, they were never taken away from their parents and there was never any really intrusive work that I did as an adviser from Birmingham city council. I felt it was entirely appropriate, and it was within the bounds of reason. In the last two to three years, the regulations are such that I can go no further than the doorstep. I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of families who choose electively to educate their children at home are doing so for entirely right reasons, for entirely honourable, fair, just, creative and admirable reasons. But I would give you two words, and they are the first and second names of the child who died-Khyra Ishaq. I do not think that it is taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut simply to be able to go across the doorstep of the home where a child is being electively home educated. Not to interfere, not to insist, not to direct, but simply to check that they are as safe as you need them to be. Khyra Ishaq was electively home educated and withdrawn from the roll of her school in Birmingham, and within 10 weeks she had starved to death. That may be an extreme case, and horrible and dreadful, and it happens very, very, very rarely indeed. None the less, it happened."
I would like to highlight several issues with respect to this comment.
1) The law WRT home education has not changed since 1996 when parents no longer needed permission to withdraw their children from school. It has in fact never been the case that an inspector had the right to doorstep parents, gain entry to the home or sight of the child without good cause any more than the authorities have a right of access to the home for children between the ages of 0-5 years (other than one visit following a birth). (This is a misunderstanding, they must offer but cannot insist) my words.
Good cause being that there is evidence or good reason to believe that a child or vulnerable person was in immediate risk of significant harm.
There has never been any statutory guidance on this subject. Such guidance as there has been was simply guidance.
It may be a surprise to you but quite often it is the children themselves who refuse to see or have contact with officials from education departments. Frequently children leave the school system traumatised by the experience and for them to be perused into their own home by the self same people who failed to protect them in school from bullying or stress is as unacceptable to the children as it is to the parents.
2) Khyra Ishaq was known by social services who had prior concerns about the child and the family. They therefore had due cause and good reason to require sight of the child and therefore they had a right of access to the child. It is clear from reports on this child's death that it had nothing whatsoever to do with home education and was everything to do with failures in Birmingham social services department.
Your attempt to blame home educators for the death of this unfortunate child has been seen by home educators as a blatant attack on the rights of families to bring up their children in their own way and does not bode well for the future of home educators or their children should you eventually take up post as children's commissioner.
I am frankly dismayed that as head of children's services in a large department and a prospective candidate to the post of children's commissioner you are unaware of the current legal situation concerning home education as a consequence of which you misled members of a committee about to consider the issue of home education.
I am certain that members of the home education community would be willing to meet with you to assist you in understanding our concerns regarding the Badman review and its recommendations.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Mike Fortune Wood
The term I like best for the quality of Maggie Atkinson's reply is snotogram a term used by a poster to one of the HE lists.