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Where are they now?

His claim to fame?

Mr Grant Maintained Schools. The power behind Tory education policy.

Distinguishing features He cuts a dash around town sporting a silver-topped walking stick ("my grandfather's") and a silk-lined cape.

What happened when Labour came to power?

Part of his empire was lost: the GM Schools Foundation closed when government funding ceased. "We had a wonderful dinner at Goldsmiths' Hall to say goodbye to the GM school heads," he recalls. Baroness Thatcher was guest of honour.

And the GM Centre?

It became the Centre for Management Education with Sir Bob as chairman. He says it's going from strength to strength selling services to schools "wanting to escape the clutches of education authorities and it is doing well out of the Government's drive to put more local authorities into the private sector".

He's got a thing about education authorities?

Not half.

Any other interests?

Various charities including St John Ambulance, organisations for the homeless, young offenders, Heraldry Society, The Balchin Family Society, Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor ...

What does he do now?

He turned his talents to higher education as deputy chairman f Goldsmiths' College council. "I get to give degrees away to undergraduates from time to time and engage in the governance of a university: a whole new world for me."

He's been a principal education adviser to William Hague, credited with the 'free schools' idea: "GM schools with bells and whistles on."

And what next?

"When the Conservative party returns to power I intend to be doing some important job in order to get the hands of local education authorities off education and put more control into schools. It won't be many years before we can put that right."

What does he really want?

A seat in the House of Lords.

Mr Grant Maintained Schools is still calling shots in the education game. His ideas have been remixed as the free schools plan


Born July 31, 1942

Educated: London and Hull universities

1964-69: English teacher

1972-1980: headmaster, Hill School, Westerham

1980-1999 chairman of Pardoe-Blacker, a publishing company

1989-99: chairman, The Grant-Maintained Schools Foundation

1993: Knighted 1994-97: member, Funding Agency for Schools

1999-: deputy chairman, council, Goldsmiths' College, London

Diane Spencer

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