The Baroness Wilcox of Newport – Deborah Wilcox

Lady Wilcox has more than 35 years’ experience in front-line education, having first taught in Brixton in South London, before becoming head of drama and media studies at Hartridge High School in Newport, and then head of the performing arts faculty and senior management team at Hawthorn High School, Pontypridd. She was an external examiner for both the WJEC and AQA Examination Boards for more than 25 years and became the principal examiner for A-Level Theatre Studies.


In 2004 she combined her public service role as a teacher with that of a local councillor, winning the seat of the Gaer Ward at Newport City Council. She subsequently won a further three elections in 2008, 2012 and 2017. She was initially Chair of the Labour Group at the Council, then became Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture in 2012, developing the not-for-profit company “Newport Live”, which now runs sport and leisure activities in the city. In 2014 the Leader moved her to the largest portfolio in Education and Children’s Services, which is when Lady Wilcox relinquished her full-time teaching post.


In 2016 Councillor Debbie Wilcox became the first female Leader of Newport City Council following the retirement of her predecessor, and in May 2017 led her group to victory by winning 31 of 50 seats at Newport Council.


In June 2017, she became the first female Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association, the body representing all councils in Wales. She also represented Wales as a member of the Local Government Association (LGA) Executive in London.


She served on the governing bodies of Gaer Primary School and The John Frost School in Newport for fifteen years. She was Chair of One Newport, the public services board, and formerly served two terms as an independent member of the Arts Council of Wales through an open competition process.


In 2018 she was invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


In Theresa May’s Resignation Honours’ List 2019, Cllr Wilcox was elevated to the House of Lords. In March 2020 Lady Wilcox was appointed as an Opposition Whip and joined the local government team in the Lords and in September 2020 Lady Wilcox was appointed as Shadow Spokesperson for Women & Equalities as part of the Lords Front Bench team. In March 2021 she was appointed as Shadow Spokesperson for Wales and as the Education Whip in the Opposition Front Bench and currently holds both roles.


She was appointed as a Commissioner to the Lifelong Education Commission and is Vice-Chair of the APPG of the Western Gateway / Porth Y Gorllewin linking eight Councils from Swansea to Swindon in economic development.

She is Chair of Trustees of the Council for Drama, Dance and Musical Theatre (CDMT) the body for quality assurance and membership support in the performing arts.


In November 2023 she was awarded a Fellowship by Teesside University as a result of her work with the UK 2070 Commission and the Commonwealth in delivering economic growth missions between Wales, Teesside, and South Africa.