Phil was educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School and Bristol University where he gained a First Class Honours Degree in History. He taught at Bristol University whilst completing a PhD in Seventeenth Century Political and Administrative History.
After leaving Bristol, Phil joined the Audit Commission where he was engaged for two years mainly on a series of studies in value for money in education. The next step took him to Somerset County Council where Phil worked in a number of departments before settling in Education. In 1996 he moved to the newly formed North Somerset Council as Assistant Director of Education responsible for policy and strategy, school planning and education finance. In April 1998 Phil joined Devon County Council as Deputy Director of Education, Arts and Libraries and was appointed Director in 2003. He took up the post of Chief Executive of Devon County Council in February 2006.
From 2003-2006 he was a member of the Board of Learning South West and from 2003 to 2008 a Board member of Connexions Cornwall and Devon (now Careers South West). In 2004 he was appointed Honorary Fellow of Exeter University and in 2008 he was appointed Practitioner in Residence at Plymouth University. Phil held the post of Chairman of the Association of County Chief Executives for 2011/12. He is also a member of the Department of Health/Local Government Association Health Transformation Task Group.
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