Gary started working in local authorities when he left school at 16. He worked in Southwark in Central Finance and in the mid-eighties moved to education finance in Bexley. In 1988 he was appointed to a new post with Redbridge local education authority as Assistant Director of Finance. 1988 was the year of Kenneth Baker’s Great Reform Act, and local management of schools and formula funding were on the horizon. He was involved in more than finance – at various times he was responsible for school admissions, buildings, the music service, Glasbury Outdoor Education Centre and indeed the finance of any aspect of education.
Gary believed very strongly that education mattered, and he was passionate about helping schools to do the best they could for their pupils, but he insisted that you didn’t need to have been a teacher to do this. He rightly became annoyed of the terms ‘non-teacher’ or ‘non-teaching’ were used.
Headteachers, warmed to his ‘can do’ approach, his commitment to school improvement and the strong support he gave everyone. From Redbridge, Gary moved on to Camden and then to the role of Corporate Director at the National Strategies.
Gary’s ideas were never vague notions of what could be – they were concrete and decisive and were far more about what will be. At the inception of the Active Learning Trust he said "We work together well, we know some highly effective people, the education system is struggling, so lots of children are getting a raw deal, so let’s do something about it!" It was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and the Active Learning Trust was born. Gary became the CEO of the Active Learning Trust in 2015, just when we were on the cusp of another growth spurt. He did the most magnificent job as the organisation grew to its present size of 21 schools. It is important to hold on to the fact that Gary had ‘made it’ in life through his tenacity and hard work. He did his degree later in life and he worked his way up in his profession. He made it to CEO of an organisation dedicated to schools and their pupils - where he always wanted to be.
Gary said many times how very proud he was of what he had achieved. He felt his life had been rich and full, in spite of the awful illness that he so stoically dealt with over the last four years. He built strong loving relationships and earned the professional recognition he deserved.
Gary Peile was most certainly one of the good guys and the world is a lesser place without him.
Active Learning Trust February 2019