Sir Peter Birkett
A leading light in the world of education, charity and business for over 30 years, Sir Peter Birkett continues to deliver educational excellence through a passionate and results-orientated vision.
As the founding Chairman of the Educational Wealth Fund, Sir Peter will be leading the endowment fund’s mission of creating empowering, inspirational and creative learning environments for children across the UK.
His drive to achieve excellence in the field of education led Sir Peter to open Highgate Hill House School as an independent school for children aged between five and 16 years with special educational needs. Since its creation in 2016, the school, which is located on the borders of Devon and Cornwall, has been shortlisted for several National Awards including being named in the top 20 best employers in the country in 2020 and received several excellent external inspection reports including the independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) and a ‘Good’ rating across all areas by Ofsted. The achievements of Highgate Hill House School have inspired Sir Peter to explore the opening of a second school.
P5e was established by Sir Peter in 2014 as an education consultancy company designed to guide schools and colleges in identifying areas where performance could be improved.
In July 2013, Sir Peter Birkett was appointed CEO of the GEMS Group in the UK and Europe. During this time he established a new vision, strategy and structure as well as introducing a more rigorous reporting and budget planning system – he also led the development of a $1 million teacher award.
Sir Peter’s ground-breaking achievements in Further Education and the Academy Movement which he established, resulted in him being honoured with a Knighthood by the Queen in 2012 and he has continued to work tirelessly to ensure higher standards of education for all pupils throughout the UK.
In 2010 Sir Peter, alongside Sir Deian Hopkin, was appointed by the government as a University and Further Education National Apprenticeship Champion. Their joint remit was to design a concept that encouraged universities, colleges and schools to employ young apprentices across support services which included information technology, business, catering and HR. This project proved highly successful, with significant numbers of apprentices being employed within the education sector.
Between 2005 and 2013, Sir Peter was the Principal and CEO of Barnfield College. During his time there, Sir Peter led the college to be named ‘Outstanding’ in two Ofsted reports, increased revenue to c£60 million, and designed the first college-led federation in the UK.
Having created this federation, Sir Peter Birkett led the improvement of the schools, taking them from the bottom of the towns league table to the top. As a result, this model has since been widely adopted in the UK and beyond.
Sir Peter’s passion for excellence remains undimmed, and he continues to involve himself in all ventures which allow for the expansion of his vision for improving educational systems for all our children, whatever their capabilities.
On the 30th of October 2022, Sir Peter Birkett became a Freeman of the City of London. This is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies, believed to have been first presented in 1237. To this day, the Freedom of London remains a unique part of the city’s history.
The purpose of the Freedom of the City has evolved throughout the ages, from town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city to enabling members of a Guild or Livery to be given the right to carry out trade or craft. Since 1835, the eligibility for this privilege has expanded to people living and working in the city and those with a strong London connection.
An interesting fact you may not know is that those with the Freedom of the City, during the Medieval era, were allowed to take their sheep into the city and sell them at market. This tradition has continued to this day, with recipients herding sheep across the Southwark Bridge in London.
Each freedom ceremony is carried out individually in the Chamberlain’s Court Room, Guildhall and the recipient is asked to read aloud the declaration of a Freeman and to sign the declaration book. The declaration book contains several inspirational people such as Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, Princess Diana & Steven Hawkins.