Senior Brighton and Hove schools official retires

Posted On 03 Apr 2013 at 5:49 pm

One of the most senior schools officials in Brighton and Hove, Gil Sweetenham, is to retire in a fortnight’s time.

Mr Sweetenham, the strategic commissioner for planning and contracts, will leave on Friday 19 April after more than seven years with Brighton and Hove City Council.

His boss, Jo Lyons, the lead commissioner for learning and partnership, has written to schools across the area about Mr Sweetenham’s retirement.

She said: “Gil has made such a significant and positive contribution to education and children’s services in the city over the past seven years.

“I am sure you will join me over the next few weeks in saying goodbye and thank you and in wishing him a very happy and long retirement.

“I will be in touch after Easter to outline the proposals regarding reshaping of my managers team to respond to Gil’s departure.”

Mr Sweetenham, 59, leaves as new chief executive Penny Thompson reshapes the council’s most senior managers.

Mike Weatherley MP, flanked by Andrew Wealls and Gil Sweetenham at a public meeting to discuss using the Connaught Centre in Hove to accommodate the growing number of primary school children in Hove

Mike Weatherley MP, flanked by Andrew Wealls and Gil Sweetenham at a public meeting to discuss using the Connaught Centre in Hove to accommodate the growing number of primary school children in Hove

He will also step down as a governor at the Portslade Aldridge Community Academy (PACA).

He plans to spend his retirement with his family – he has a son, daughter and granddaughter – gardening at his home in Crowborough family and working as an interim head teacher.

Before joining the council Mr Sweetenham held three headships in Kent.

He worked on schools reorganisation in Brighton and Hove, running the central area trust under former education director David Hawker.

And more recently he has headed the Schools Futures Team, trying to find places for the growing school-age population.

He has been involved in expanding 16 schools and adding extensions to about 20, including Varndean, Dorothy Stringer and Longhill.

He said: “I have really enjoyed it. It was the best career move I ever made coming to Brighton and Hove. It’s a fantastic place to work.

“Leading the Schools Futures Team was the most exciting period of my working life. It had some of the most consummate professionals I’ve ever worked with.”

He praised the unsung achievements of many of his colleagues in a changing political landscape at both national and local levels.

His biographical details on the PACA website say: “I went initially to university to study astrophysics and had a vague idea of becoming an astronaut.

“But with the demise of the British space programme I decided to pursue a teaching career.

“My first degree was in mathematics and education and this was followed by other qualifications culminating in my MA (Ed) towards the end of the last century.

“I entered teaching in 1978 and became a deputy head teacher three years later.

“My teaching encompassed infant, junior, secondary and adult work. I worked in schools, colleges, libraries and prisons.

“I then held three headships over a period of 18 years before being seconded to Kent LEA (local education authority) as a district development officer focusing on inclusion and collaborative work between schools.

“Following this career change I became an assistant director for Brighton and Hove.

“I have been a school governor at a primary and a secondary school and also at a therapeutic residential centre.

“My passion for education is driven by my belief in successful inclusion and equity and a belief that schools and those who work in them are too often undervalued.

“My experience has shown that true collaborative and inclusive work with children, young people and their families gives them the most important requirement of self-confidence without which education can be of little value.”


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