Margaret began her distinguished career with two very different studies, both of them timely and influential. Against a widespread concern with dyslexia, she studied a cohort of more than 1,500 children, focusing on those who had difficulty in learning to read, finding a pattern of widespread learning difficulties among the few children involved. The other study involved a small group of five-year-olds, already able to read fluently. These studies refocused literacy research and set the course for a lifetime of illuminating work, culminating in three important books in the last three years.
A Past President of the United Kingdom Literacy Association, she was awarded the UKLA Academic Book Award in 2015 for Learning to be Literate: insights from research for policy and practice, which includes a critique of government policy in England on synthetic phonics. She is a Visiting Professor at Newman University, UK and Emeritus Professor at the University of Birmingham.