Farewell to Steve Hillier, CEO

As Steve Hillier retires at the end of this academic year, we would like to share a tribute from Nigel Rees (Chair of Trustees) with you.


As we approach the end of the academic year, we celebrate with Steve his career, and forthcoming retirement.

Steve started his educational career many years ago and I suspect it will be far more than he would like to remember.  A good set of A Level grades enabled Steve to go to Kings College, Cambridge where he completed a BA Honours in Geography followed by a MA in Geography and he then went on to complete a PGCE teaching qualification at the University of Hull. Steve entered the world of work in Education as Deputy Head of House and Teacher of Geography at the Aston School Market Rasen in Lincolnshire.  This led him to further geography teaching appointments in Nottingham and then he came down to Somerset in September 2003 to take on a role as Vice Principal at Frome Community College.


We know that Steve has always been keen on high quality teaching and whilst in Frome he started to develop the knowledge, skills and contacts that would serve him well in later roles. Time moved on and Steve applied for the role of Headteacher at Gryphon School in May 2006 to start in January 2007.  Following the interview process  we were very pleased to offer him the headteacher role at the Gryphon.


Within a few years it came apparent that Academies as a structure for schools were becoming more important, and Local Authority involvement was likely to be less in the future. Steve and the Governors wanted to ensure that the success of The Gryphon continued, this led to conversations within the Governors as to whether or not Gryphon should become an Academy.   Steve approached this topic with enthusiasm and dedication but at the same time with levelheadedness and caution.   The outcome was that The Gryphon School became a single academy trust in 2012 and within a few years it was apparent that there could well be benefit in more schools joining together into a multi-academy trust centred on Sherborne.  Again Steve approached this with enthusiasm and dedication and carried on many conversations with local headteachers and governors leading to the formation of the Sherborne Area Schools Trust in 2017 created with The Gryphon and seven Feeder Primary Schools


Steve continue to develop relationships in the educational world with the result that SAST grew, and has now become a well respected medium to large size multi academy trust in the South West with seventeen schools locally based and is deeply respected by Members, Trustees, Local Governors, SAST Staff, and students as well as Bath and Wells and Salisbury Dioceses, and the Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West.


Steve felt last year that the time to retire was coming and we are immensely grateful for his contribution to education in Sherborne and the surrounding area. Some very firm foundation stones have been laid to be built on over the coming years. During Steve’s tenure as Head of The Gryphon, and latterly as CEO for SAST, thousands of young people have known Steve as their Headteacher and have benefitted from his determination that they should receive the best education possible.  Many hundreds of staff have seen encouragement for their own careers and have progressed accordingly.


It has been a huge privilege for me to serve The Gryphon and SAST with Steve as HeadTeacher and then CEO.  I have always admired his professionalism integrity, calmness and careful thinking. Members and Trustees join with me in wishing Steve a very happy retirement, well deserved rest,  and we hope to see him within SAST from time to time.



Member and Chair of the Trustees, Sherborne Area Schools Trust (SAST)

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