Our Commissioners

The Commission is led by two co-chairs, Sharon Hodgson MP and Edward Timpson MP. They are supported by 8 commissioners who are leading early years experts and practitioners with a wide range of experience. Our co-chairs and commissioners are serving in a personal capacity.

Sharon Hodgson MP


Sharon Hodgson has been the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West (previously Gateshead East and Washington West) since 2005, and is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, following stints as Shadow Minister for Veterans, and four years as Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health. Sharon has had a keen interest in the early years since being elected, having formerly sat on the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee, and was appointed as Shadow Minister for Children and Families between 2010 and 2015, shadowing co-chair Edward Timpson in his role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State. Outside of her ministerial roles, Sharon has also been vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Conception to Age 2- The First 1001 Days, and has taken a keen interest in the early years in her roles as Chair of the APPG on School Food, and the APPG on Art, Craft and Design in Education.

Edward Timpson CBE MP


Edward was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Eddisbury in 2019, but previously served as MP for Crewe and Nantwich between 2008 and 2017. Edward has previously served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Minister of State for Children and Families, and Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families. Outside of Parliament, Edward undertook the Timpson review into school exclusions. Prior to becoming a Member of Parliament, Edward was a barrister who focused on family law and worked with vulnerable children.

Sara Bonetti

Sara is Director of Early Years at the Education Policy Institute. Sara spent a decade working in the field of early years in the United States, as a teacher and a researcher. Her recent publications have focused on what high quality early years education looks like, and the early years workforce in England.

Sarah Darton

Sarah has been the CEO of Family Links the Centre for Emotional Health since 2018. The charity’s mission is to deliver training programmes, based on the Nurturing Programme, that build and sustain emotional health and relationships in families, schools and workplaces. Prior to joining Family Links as Director of Programmes, Sarah worked in the NHS for 30 years as a health visitor, a named nurse for child protection, and a manager of a Sure Start Children’s Centre.

Naomi Eisenstadt CB

Naomi is the former Director of the Sure Start programme and former Director of the Social Exclusion Task Force. She is also the former deputy chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission for Scotland. Naomi has authored Parents, Poverty and the State: 20 Years of Evolving Family Policy, jointly with Carey Oppenheim, and Providing a Sure Start: How Government Discovered Early Childhood. Prior to working in the Civil Service, Naomi worked in organisations concerned with poverty and early years.

Eli Gardner

Dr Eli Gardner is a Clinical Child Psychologist with more than 25 years of experience of working with children and their families in the NHS. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the charity Kids Matter who engage local churches to deliver their accessible and evidence informed parenting programmes to parents and carers of all faiths and none, who are facing disadvantages; so that their children can thrive. She is married, lives in London and has 3 quasi grown up children.

Imran Hussain

Imran is the Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action for Children. He previously spent 8 years at Child Poverty Action Group as their Director for Policy, Rights and Advocacy.

Jen Lexmond

Jen Lexmond is Founder & CEO of EasyPeasy, the digital platform for parents that has narrowed the developmental gap for over 60,000 disadvantaged children across the UK.

Patrick Myers

Patrick is a Senior Ambassador for the DWP’s Reducing Inter-Parental Conflict Programme, which seeks to intervene early in the parental relationship where conflict has been identified. Patrick’s work involves raising the profile of evidence and the programme nationally and supporting others to play their role in this very important work. He is seconded into DWP from Dorset Council.

Ed Vainker OBE

Ed is the CEO of the Reach Foundation, and a co-founder of Reach
Academy Feltham. He oversees the Reach Cradle to Career model,
which includes substantial work in the Early Years. He has sat on
a number of policy groups, including the Royal Foundation Steering
Group on Early Life.

The Early Years Commission is funded by Kindred2
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