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The political past of Mr Fletcher, 53, was put aside by the all-party selection panel, which finally judged him the best man for the job. Neil Fletcher was a Labour councillor in Camden, north London, from 1978 to 1986, becoming deputy leader in 1982 and 1984. He became a member of the ILEA in 1979 and its leader from 1987 until he left politics in 1990. He was education chief at NALGO from 1990 until 1993 and has worked as an educational management consultant for the last four years.
Film director Richard Attenborough (right) has been elected the new chancellor of the University of Sussex. He succeeds the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who has been chancellor since 1985. Lord Attenborough has been associated with the university for more than 30 years, since Asa Briggs, then vice-chancellor, arranged for undergraduates to take part in his film 'Oh! What a Lovely War', which was set in Brighton. He is president of the Gardner Arts Centre and helped to found, and continues to endow, the Mandela Scholarship Fund.
The London borough of Greenwich has appointed George Gyte as its director of education. Mr Gyte, who will take up his post onSeptember 1, is currently in charge of the Teacher Training Agency's continuing professional development and research team. A former chairman of the Centre for the Study of Comprehensive Schools, he has been head of a large urban comprehensive in Cleveland and chief inspector of Northamptonshire LEA. He succeeds Julien Kramer, who became director of educational services of the new Worcestershire County Council in January.
Teresa Whitfield has taken up a new post as assistant director of education responsible for educational achievement in Hartlepool. This follows a restructuring of the education department to enable it to respond more effectively to the Government's White Paper. She will lead a team including four advisers, six curriculum co-ordinators and twostatisticians.
Brighton amp; Hove Council has appointed Gill Harris as development officer for the Equal Chances Project, which aims to improve the council's role as "corporate parent" and to raise the educational achievement of children in care. Brighton amp; Hove is one of only two councils (the other is Bradford) chosen to take part in the scheme, established by the Who Cares? Trust and the Gulbenkian Foundation.
The Department for Education and Employment has appointed Julia Simpson (above right) as the Secretary of State's official spokeswoman and head of the press office. Ms Simpson, who is currently assistant chief executive (quality and communications) of the London borough of Camden, will work closely with Conor Ryan, Mr Blunkett's special adviser and political spokesman. The press office will be part of the department's new Strategy and Communications Directorate, which will bring together all external communications. Peter Wanless, formerly of the Treasury and the Employment Department, will head the directorate.