Sir Cyril Taylor was born in Yorkshire, England in 1935 and educated at St Marylebone Grammar School, London and Roundhay School, Leeds. Awarded a National Service Commission at age 18 with the King’s African Rifles he served as a platoon commander in the Mau Mau emergency campaign in Kenya 1954-56. He then took an honours degree in history at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1959 and was awarded the Charles Bell Scholarship by the London Chamber of Commerce to study for the Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is married with one daughter.

After attending Harvard Business School, he worked in brand management for Procter & Gamble at the headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1964 he founded the American Institute for Foreign Study, the Anglo-American international educational company of which he is still the Chairman. Group companies include the College Division, Camp America, Au Pair in America, the American Council for International Studies (ACIS) and the Summer Institute for the Gifted. AIFS has offices in the US, UK, Germany, Poland, South Africa and Australia.

In 1970, AIFS established Richmond, the American International University in London. Richmond is a unique, non-profit university with 1,000 full time students from 100 countries accredited by both the American and British education authorities. Overall, AIFS organises programmes for 40,000 students each year with annual tuition income of 180 million dollars a year and celebrated the enrolment of its one millionth student in 2001.

Sir Cyril served as Chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) in a voluntary, unpaid capacity from 1987-2007, and remains a Trustee.  From 1987 to 2007 he served as Advisor to ten successive Secretaries of State for Education on specialist schools and academies, also serving in a voluntary unpaid capacity. In 2005, the SSAT was made the lead body to support the 400 Academies to be established on the sites of underperforming schools in socially disadvantaged areas. The specialist schools and academies initiative (technology, arts, sports and languages colleges; business & enterprise; science; engineering; mathematics & computing; humanities and music) has established 2,799 specialist secondary schools and 83 academies, 90% of all English secondary schools, educating to an increasingly high standard 3 million children. The intake of ability for specialist schools is similar to non-specialist yet in 2006 they achieved 60% 5+ A*-C grades at GCSE compared to only 48% for other schools. Specialist schools both emphasise their chosen specialist subjects, as well as teaching the national curriculum. Over 700 private sector sponsors have contributed more than 300 million pounds to the initiative.

Sir Cyril has been listed by the Evening Standard as one of London's 1,000 most influential people 2007.

Sir Cyril served on the Greater London Council from 1977 until 1986 and was elected deputy leader of the Conservative group from 1983. He was awarded a knighthood in 1989 in recognition of his services to education and in 2003 was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE). He was High Sheriff of Greater London in 1996. He has published a number of books and pamphlets including most recently, in collaboration with Conor Ryan, “Excellence in Education: The Making of Great Schools”, published by Granada Learning in November 2004, with a revised edition in November 2005.

Although an active member of the Conservative Party until 1997, Sir Cyril resigned from the Party when he was appointed David Blunkett’s advisor on specialist schools in 1997 and has had no political affiliations since that date. In addition to education, Sir Cyril has specialist knowledge of local government, public transport, foreign affairs and business.

May 2009