Cyril Taylor (educationist)

  (Redirected from Cyril Julian Hebden Taylor)

Sir Cyril Julian Hebden Taylor GBE FRSA (14 May 1935 – 29 January 2018) was a British educator and social entrepreneur, who founded the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) in 1964. He served as an education reformer and adviser to successive elected British Governments from 1987 to 2007 and founded the City Technology Colleges Trust, subsequently the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT).

Cyril Taylor

Born(1935-05-14)14 May 1935
Yorkshire, England, UK
Died29 January 2018(2018-01-29) (aged 82)
Years active1964–2018
Judy Denman Taylor (m. 1965)
Children1 daughter
WebsiteOfficial website

Taylor founded Richmond University[1] the American International University in London in 1971. The University is accredited in the United States and designated by the Department of Education of HM Government in the UK.[2] Taylor was Chancellor[1] of the university which has 1,200 students from 100 countries.[3]

Taylor was appointed a director of Margaret Thatcher’s Think Tank, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) and began his political career on the Greater London Council (GLC) as the member for Ruislip-Northwood. Following the abolition of the GLC in 1986, Taylor was called upon by Thatcher, Prime Minister, to assist with the emerging problem of rising youth unemployment.[4] It was during this time that Taylor founded the City Technology Colleges Trust (CTCT), subsequently renamed the Specialist Schools Trust, and renamed again as the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) where he remained Chairman until 2007. Between 1987 until 2007, Taylor served as Education Adviser to ten successive Secretaries of State for Education on the Specialist Schools and Academies initiative.

Taylor was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1989 Birthday Honours for services to education in recognition of the success of the CTC initiative. He was also made a Knight Grand Cross of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) for services to education in 2004. In 1996, Taylor, was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II as High Sheriff of Greater London.

Early yearsEdit

Taylor was born 14 May 1935 in Leeds, Yorkshire to parents who were both missionaries in Africa.[5] By the time of Taylor's birth, his father, the Reverend Cyril Eustace Taylor had died leaving his wife Marjorie to bring up Taylor, his brother and four sisters. Taylor was 6 months old when his mother returned to the Congo, with one sister. Taylor's formative years were spent in the Belgian Congo now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he learnt to speak the local language Kiluba before he learnt to speak English.[5] The outbreak of the Second World War brought Taylor's years in Africa to an end and he returned to England with his mother in 1941.

Education & National ServiceEdit

St Marylebone Grammar SchoolEdit

Six years after returning from Africa, Taylor and his mother moved to London where he was accepted at St Marylebone Grammar School, where he stayed until 1954. Whilst at St Marylebone Grammar, Taylor was taught by Dr Thomas Kingston Derry, a distinguished historian who was to become a major influence on his life.[5] Taylor's mother returned to Yorkshire in 1951 leaving Taylor in London, at his request, where he stayed at the Methodist International House.

Kenya (National Service)Edit

Taylor was called up for his two years National Service[6] in 1954 where he applied for a commission and was trained as an officer. Taylor was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and was granted a secondment to the King's African Rifles in Kenya during the Mau Mau emergency. He spent eighteen months as the Commander of Number 8 Platoon, C Company, in the 3rd Battalion of the King’s African Rifles.[7]

Trinity Hall, Cambridge UniversityEdit

Taylor left the army in March 1956, just prior to going up to Cambridge University and took a teaching job for a term at a private boarding school. In October 1956, Taylor took his place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge[8] to read History. During his time at Cambridge, Taylor became good friends with reporter Mark Tully and Parviz C. Radji. Taylor's personal tutor was The Reverend Robert Runcie, who became Archbishop of Canterbury and who encouraged and supported Taylor's application to Harvard Business School and who would later recommend Taylor to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.[9]


Harvard Business SchoolEdit

In 1957 Taylor assisted a friend at Cambridge, Miles Halford, who had chartered two DC6 aeroplanes to fly fellow students who wanted to work their summer university break in North America and Canada.[5] After working the summer of 1957 in Temiscaming, Quebec where his brother Stacey was the Anglican vicar [10] Taylor ended his trip with a visit to Harvard Business School which influenced his decision to apply to study at Harvard and join the Harvard MBA programme. After graduating from Cambridge with a second-class honours degree, he was accepted onto the MBA programme by Harvard Business School in September 1959, majoring[11] in Entrepreneurial studies in his final year. After graduation, Taylor was offered a job by Procter & Gamble [12] in the Marketing Department where he worked from 1961 to 1964.

Procter & GambleEdit

Whilst working at Procter & Gamble, Taylor met and later married, French language teacher, Judy Denman.[13] It was when Taylor helped Denman to organise an educational trip for her pupils to France, to learn French, that he came up with the idea of the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS). Taylor saw there was an untapped market for school trips abroad led by teachers and so spent his two-week Procter & Gamble vacation in August 1964 setting up summer study abroad programmes for high school students at universities in European cities.[14] This led to Taylor leaving Procter & Gamble in September 1964 to focus on this new enterprise and together with Roger Walther and Doug Burck, two other Brand Managers from Procter & Gamble, the AIFS[15] was established.

American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS)Edit

Foundation of AIFSEdit

Taylor founded the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) in 1964.[16] From 1965 to 1968 the AIFS high school programme grew rapidly to nearly 5,000 students with many new summer campuses opening including, in the United Kingdom, at universities such as St Andrews University, Durham University and even Oxford University and Cambridge University.

In 1969, Taylor and his two partners sold AIFS to the National Student Marketing Corporation (NSMC). NSMC went public in the 1970s and Taylor and his partners bought back AIFS from NSMC in 1977. As part of the purchase Camp America[17] was acquired, originally called Rural Britannia. This led to thousands of British and other foreign students travelling to the USA to work as camp counsellors during their summer vacations. Au Pair in America was formed in 1986, and signed into statute by President Bill Clinton. There have since that time been over 90,000 participants.

AIFS was floated on the American Stock Exchange in 1986 but was later re-acquired by Taylor and his partner Roger Walther in 1990. In 1993, AIFS was split as Walther wished to concentrate on other business ventures on the West Coast, with the ELS becoming a separate company under Walther’s direction.

Taylor remained actively involved with AIFS as its chairman. AIFS recently celebrated the enrollment of its 1,500,000th student and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014[18]

Political careerEdit

Starting out in politicsEdit

Taylor was drawn towards the UK's Conservative Party) politics. Taylor chaired Trinity Hall’s Conservative Association and he participated in the Cambridge Union Society. In April 1970, Taylor joined the Kensington Conservative Association and was elected deputy chairman of the new combined Kensington and Chelsea (UK Parliament constituency) on the recommendation of the then chairman, Cllr George Pole. Taylor helped Conservative Spencer Le Marchant win the Labour held marginal High Peak seat in Derbyshire in the 1970 General Election. The experiences of the Derbyshire campaign helped him to become the Conservative's candidate to contest the Huddersfield East seat in 1973. Taylor lost to Labour who regained power in 1974, but as Harold Wilson did not have a working majority in parliament, he called another election for October 1974 which he lost narrowly. Taylor had the opportunity to stand for another Labour marginal seat in Keighley which he lost by 3,081 votes. However, Taylor wanted was a safer seat near to London that would work well with his professional career and also to fit with his family life and so he resigned as the candidate for Keighley after the election.[19]

Greater London Council (GLC)Edit

Taylor began to look at other ways to serve in a public capacity. In 1977 he was given the opportunity to stand as the Greater London Council (GLC) Conservative candidate[20] for Ruislip-Northwood and won a significant victory.

From 1977 until 1986, Taylor served as the member of the GLC for Ruislip-Northwood. Sir Horace Cutler, appointed Taylor to be the chairman of the council’s Professional and General Services Committee, which supervised the employment of 25,000 GLC staff. During his time at the GLC, Taylor was concerned with getting better value from public spending and wrote a paper called The Elected Member’s Guide to Reducing Public Expenditure.[21]

The Conservatives lost power to Ken Livingstone, Labour, in 1981. However, under Ken Livingstone’s leadership, Margaret Thatcher abolished the GLC in 1986, together with Taylor's role as a Conservative councillor. Taylor did not agree with Margaret Thatcher’s decision to abolish the GLC and made his views public in a Bow Group paper "London Preserved". Margaret Thatcher referred to Taylor as a ‘wet’, which was seen as one of the strongest forms of abuse for a Conservative at the time. Taylor was elected deputy leader of the Conservative Councillors in 1985. However, Margaret Thatcher later called upon Taylor to assist her with the growing youth unemployment problem of the 1980s.[5]

Specialist schools and academiesEdit

City Technology Colleges (CTCs)Edit

In 1986 Taylor was still a director of Margaret Thatcher’s Think Tank, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) and regardless of her views on Taylor's opposition to her abolition of the GLC, he was asked to organise an all day[22] CPS conference at the House of Lords to discuss the growing youth unemployment issue. It was from this conference that the idea of City Technology College (CTC) was born with the intention of using private sector and state support to set up the colleges to provide free education to children in urban areas, focused on modern technology. The idea was announced by Education Secretary, Kenneth Baker, Baron Baker of Dorking, at the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth October 1986. Taylor was then appointed as special adviser to organise the project and in May 1987 established the City Technology Colleges Trust (CTCT).[23] The Trust gathered together leading figures from both industry and education as sponsors and between 1987 and 1993, £44 million of sponsorship was raised.

The CTCT model was expensive for sponsors and so had to be changed as it was being developed. Taylor suggested an alternative, less expensive option involving converting existing comprehensive schools to specialist technology colleges. There was still an element of industry sponsorship,[24] but at £100,000 this was much less than the £2 million previously required. The government would also provide match industry funding. The new CTCs needed to show how they would raise standards using their new technology specialisms. This new option was strongly supported by the new prime minister, John Major, who had succeeded Margaret Thatcher in 1990.

Special adviser to ten successive Secretaries of State for EducationEdit

Taylor remained specialist adviser to Kenneth Baker’s four Conservative successors: John MacGregor; Kenneth Clarke; John Patten and Gillian Shepherd. It was through Gillian Shepherd’s enthusiasm and support that Taylor met with Prime Minister John Major to discuss how to include all schools as potential CTCs rather than remain limited to technology colleges who, on hearing the ideas being put forward, backed Taylor's proposals.[5]

The Conservatives lost the 1997 General Election to Labour after seventeen years in power. Taylor sought the support of the Labour Government so that his educational reforms [25] through CTCs and the raising of standards in specialist schools could continue. David Blunkett, Secretary of State for Education[26] from 1997 to 2001, supported Taylor's ideas and together with Conor Ryan, who was David Blunkett’s key adviser on schools, the specialist schools programme continued.

In 1997, Labour was re-elected and Taylor was reappointed as specialist adviser by David Blunkett, who was promoted to Home Secretary in 2001. Estelle Morris became Education Secretary, who was then succeeded by Charles Clarke when she stepped down. Charles Clarke then became Home Secretary and Ruth Kelly took his place as Education Secretary, Alan Johnson reappointed Taylor in 2006. All supported the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust(SSAT)[27] programme, as it was now known, which had grown rapidly from 245 in 1997 to 700 by 2001 and by 2009 the number stood at over 3,000.

Taylor remained at the helm of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) as a special adviser for education from 1987 until 2007 where he served ten Education Secretaries from both Conservative and Labour governments.



Taylor was honoured in 1989 when Lord Baker recommended Taylor be made a Knight Bachelor [28] in the 1989 Birthday Honours for services to education in recognition of the success of the CTC initiative.

In 2004, Tony Blair recommended that Taylor be given the honour of Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE) for services to education.[29]

High Sheriff of Greater LondonEdit

After the abolition of the GLC in 1986, Taylor was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen as High Sheriff of Greater London for one year. During this time, Taylor's interest in the welfare and education of young people, led him to focus his attention on how to improve the treatment of young offenders as well as looking at how to reduce crime committed by young people especially by those who had been children in care.

Honorary citizenshipEdit

Awarded Honorary citizenship by the Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, June 2009 for services to education.

Honorary doctoratesEdit

Honorary Degrees
Location Date School Degree
  New Hampshire 1991 New England College Doctorate
  England 1997 Richmond, The American International University in London Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [30]
  England 16 December 2000 Open University Doctor of the University (D.Univ) [31]
  England 2005 Brunel University London Doctor of Education (D.Ed) [32]


Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts

Personal lifeEdit


Taylor married Judy Denman, whom he met whilst he was working in the US.[13] They had one daughter.

Lexham Gardens, LondonEdit

Taylor purchased the freehold of a one-acre garden square, near to his London home, Lexham Gardens, Kensington, by auction in 1989.[33] With the assistance of designer Wilf Simms, he redesigned and replanted the garden. This saved it from the hands of property developers who wanted to build a car park underneath. In the garden’s first summer of 1991, it was awarded first prize in the All London Garden Squares Competition, competing against entries from 100 other squares.[34]

Books and publicationsEdit

  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (2013). My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (2009). How English Universities could learn from the US Higher Education System. Institute for Economic Affairs. ISBN 978 0 255 36643 4.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (2009). A Good School for Every Child. Routledge.[35]
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril; Blair, Tony; Reid, Elizabeth (2007). Education Education Education: 10 years on. Specialist Schools & Academies Trust.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (2006). Who will champion our vulnerable children. Specialist Schools & Academies Trust.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril; Ryan, Conor (2005). Excellence in Education: the making of great schools. David Fulton Publishers.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril; Jesson, David; Ware, Jane (1997). Educational outcomes and value added by specialist schools: Analysis. Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. ISBN 1-873882-88-2.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1996). The Future of Higher Education. Conservative Political Centre.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1990). Raising Educational Standards: a personal perspective. Centre for Policy Studies. ISBN 1-870265-61-0.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1986). Employment Examined: the Right approach to more jobs. Centre for Policy Studies. ISBN 0-905880-82-X.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1985). Bringing accountability back to local government. Centre for Policy Studies.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1985). London Preserv’d. Bow Group.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1984). Reforming London’s Government. Bow Group.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1982). A Realistic Plan for London Transport. Bow Group.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1980). The Elected Member’s Guide to Reducing Public Expenditure. CPC.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril; Walters, Alan; Lilley, Peter (1974). No More Tick. Bow Group.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril (1972). Peace has its Price. CPC.
  • Taylor, Sir Cyril; Garraty, John; von Klemperer, Lily (1974). The Guide to Study Abroad. Harper & Row.


  1. ^ a b "Richmond University Board of Trustees". Richmond University. Archived from the original on 2014-10-03. Retrieved 2013-05-30.
  2. ^ "General Information". Richmond University. Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  3. ^ "Message from the President". Richmond University.
  4. ^ "Baroness Thatcher & Sir Cyril Taylor City Technology Colleges". SSAT. September 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-07-12.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wilby, Peter (17 July 2006). "A different sort of missionary". London: The Guardian.
  6. ^ "National Service". London Gazette.
  7. ^ "Camp America Staff Detail". Camp America.
  8. ^ "Project Leaders". Trinity Hall Cambridge.
  9. ^ Taylor, Cyril (2013). Sir Cyril My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  10. ^ Taylor, Cyril (2013). Sir Cyril My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  11. ^ "Trustees and Patrons". British Friends of Harvard Business School. Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
  12. ^ "Specialist Schools Programme". Tes Connect. 2004.
  13. ^ a b "Sir Cyril Taylor Background Information". Cyril Taylor.
  14. ^ Taylor, Cyril (2013). Sir Cyril My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  15. ^ "AIFS Board". AIFS. September 2013.
  16. ^ "Biography". Debrett's.
  17. ^ "Sir Cyril Taylor Camp America Chairman". Camp America.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Taylor, Cyril (2013). Sir Cyril My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  20. ^ "Sir Cyril Taylor GLC Candidate" (PDF). London Datastore. 7 May 1981. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2013.
  21. ^ "Elected Members Reducing Public Expenditure". Amazon.
  22. ^ "City Technology Colleges". SSAT. September 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-07-12.
  23. ^ "Specialist Schools". BBC. 28 September 2001.
  24. ^ "Academy payment change welcomed". BBC. 7 September 2009.
  25. ^ "'Staggering' academy improvement". BBC. 10 September 2010.
  26. ^ "Sir Cyril Taylor's Specialist Empire". Tes Connect. 2008.
  27. ^ "Specialist Schools and Academies Trust". Source Watch.
  28. ^ "Record of Knight Bachelor". London Gazette.
  29. ^ "Knight Grand Cross". London Gazette.
  30. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-30. Retrieved 2018-03-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Taylor, Cyril (2013). Sir Cyril My Life as a Social Entrepreneur. Amberley. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-4456-1192-1.
  34. ^ "Annual Report" (PDF). Kensington Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-13.
  35. ^ Garner, Richard (10 February 2009). "State Schools". London: The Independent.