Dr Margy Whalley

Dr Margy Whalley was the founding Director of the Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families and worked there from 1983 to 2016. She has an MA in Community Education. The focus for her PhD was Leadership in Integrated Centres across the UK and was undertaken with support from the National Children’s Bureau and the Van Leer Foundation. In 1996 she was seconded to the Open University for 18 months where she worked with community groups across the UK and developed and published course materials for parents wanting to increase their knowledge and understanding of child development.

Pen Green was one of the first six Early Excellence centres and Margy was heavily involved in the development of the Early Excellence Centre programme in 1997 across England. She was appointed to the Advisory board of the National Early Excellence Evaluation programme and the DfES Early Years Advisory Group and worked as an Advisor to Margaret Hodge MP (Minister for Children and Families). Pen Green became a trailblazer Surestart Centre, received a grant as a Neighbourhood Nursery and was one of the first Children’s Centres. Margy chaired the DfE National Reference Group for Children’s Centres from 2008 to 2010.

Margy was instrumental in setting up the Pen Green Research, Development and Training Base and Leadership centre on the Pen Green campus in 1997 and has been involved in research, training and consultancy work on policy transfer and the development of integrated services in Germany, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia.

The primary task of the research base over the first 10 years was the design and development of a knowledge sharing programme which focused on involving parents in their children’s learning, and developing parents’ advocacy skills. This programme, initially funded through grants from the Teacher Development Agency and the Esmé Fairbairn Trust, has now been adopted regionally and nationally by local authorities and internationally by those developing integrated services in New Zealand and Australia. In 2008 Pen Green was funded by the DfE and the National Parenting Institute under the ELP programme to train staff and disseminate this approach across local authorities. A recent research project at Pen Green focused on children’s resilience and well-being and how parents can best support children’s emotional lives; this project was funded by the Esme Fairbairn Trust. New research has focussed on the Pen Green Baby & Toddler nest and developing appropriate provision for infants and toddlers. Most recently research staff designed and developed a Tracer study engaging with 13-22 year olds who used the nursery when they were 2,3 and 4 years old . The focus of this project has been on children’s agency and resilience and their parents and family workers roles as advocates, brokers and mediators supporting the most challenged children as they move into primary school. The Research team subsequently developed a collaborative project on transition work with Italy, Ireland, Australia and subsequently, through Erasmus funding, with Slovenia, Ghent and Bologna.

Margy’s commitment to developing emancipatory practice that transforms the life chances of the children continues unabated in retirement and she is keen to engage with educational projects that make a difference.

Margy was elected as an EECERA Trustee in 2006 and re-elected for a fifth term in 2018.



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