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After almost 20 years of advising education secretaries and prime ministers, Sir Cyril Taylor (below) would have been forgiven for taking a break. But the outspoken former chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) has been keeping himself busy these past nine months.

The former toothpaste salesman has been writing a book. A Good School for Every Child will be published in January, including 17 chapters gleaned from Sir Cyril's experience at the political frontlines of education.

Former education secretaries Kenneth Baker and David Blunkett have both written forewords. But Sir Cyril insists the book is not being used to settle any old scores following his ousting from the SSAT chairmanship, a position he had fought hard to keep.

"I've been quiet for a while, but people will find a lot to interest them," he said. "One of the recommendations is that we give heads the autonomy to raise standards."

The book aims to compare different education systems across the world and discuss why England continues to lag behind countries such as Sweden and Finland.

And for teachers keen to find out more, a pound;40,000 donation from charity the Garfield Weston Foundation will pay for a free copy to be sent to every secondary school head in England.

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