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The HMC dates from 1869, when the celebrated Edward Thring of Uppingham asked thirty-seven of his fellow headmasters to meet at his house to consider the formation of a ‘School Society and Annual Conference’. Twelve headmasters accepted the invitation. From that date there have been annual meetings. Thring’s intention was to provide an opportunity for discussion at regular intervals, both on practical issues in the life of a school and on general principles in education. He believed that his guests would discharge their practical business more effectively at a residential meeting where they could also enjoy being in the company of like-minded men. Annual Meetings of the HMC still combine formal debate on current educational questions with the second element of conversational exchanges in an agreeable environment. These gatherings, which up to 1939 were usually at individual schools, then took place at a University. Nowadays they are held in major hotels and conference centres in the Autumn term. In addition to these annual conferences attended by all members, there are local meetings each term arranged by the ten branches or Divisions into which the country is divided.
Present full membership of the HMC is a total of two hundred and eighty-one, which now includes headmasters and headmistresses of boys’, girls’ and co-educational schools. In considering applications for election to membership, the Committee has regard to the degree of independence enjoyed by the Head and his/her school. Eligibility also depends on the academic standards obtaining in the school, as reflected by the proportion of pupils in the Sixth Form pursuing a course of study beyond GCSE and by the school’s public examination results, including A Levels, the International Baccalaureate and the Cambridge Pre-U.
The Constitution provides that the full membership shall consist only of heads of independent schools in the UK and Ireland. At the same time, it is held to be a strength that the Conference includes heads of schools from the maintained sector as well as other influential figures from the world of education. There is provision therefore for the election of a small number of HMC Associates.
In addition the HMC has a number of International members, who are heads of high-quality schools from around the world. The International division meets on two occasions during the academic year and the Chair is a member of the HMC Committee. There is also a small number of Honorary Associates who have been elected to life membership on retirement.
The HMC is closely associated with the other independent sector associations that also belong to the Independent Schools Council (ISC), and with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents the Heads and senior staff of secondary schools and colleges in both the maintained and independent sectors.
The HMC Committee 2016–2017
Mike Buchanan
Ashford School
Chris King
Leicester Grammar School
Keith Budge
Bedales School
Stephen Holliday
Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital
Chairman – East
Nicholas Weaver
Ipswich School
Secretary – East
Stefan Griffiths
Norwich School
Chairman – Irish
David Burnett
Royal School Dungannon
Secretary – Irish
Paul Crute
Royal School Armagh
Chairman – London
Ian Davies
Brentwood School
Secretary – London
Ann Haydon
Surbiton High School
Chairman – North East
David Elstone
Hymers College
Secretary – North East
Mark Ronan
Pocklington School
Chairman – North West
Andrew Chicken
Stockport Grammar School
Secretary – North West
Philip Britton
Bolton School
Chairman – Scottish
Peter Brodie
Glasgow Academy
Secretary – Scottish
John Halliday
High School of Dundee
Chairman – South Central
Jonathan Cox
RGS Guildford
Secretary – South Central
Emma Hattersley
Godolphin School
Chairman – South East
Shaun Fenton
Reigate Grammar School
Secretary – South East
David Lamper
Kent College
Chairman – South West
Ian Wilmshurst
King’s Bruton
Secretary – South West
Jonathan Standen
Plymouth College
Chairman – West
Kathy Crewe-Read
Wolverhampton Grammar School
Secretary – West
Gus Lock
Warwick School
Chairman – International
Peter Armstrong
International School Bangalore
Secretary – International
(to be appointed)
Co-opted Members
Chairman of Academic Policy
Peter Hamilton
Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School
Chairman of Professional Development
John Watson
Bablake School
Chairman of Universities
Chris Ramsey
King’s School, Chester
Chairman of Inspection
Adam Pettitt
Highgate School
Chairman of Communications
Chris King
Leicester Grammar School
Mary Breen
St Mary’s School Ascot
General Secretary: William Richardson, BA, DPhil (Tel: 01858 469059)
Membership Secretary: Ian Power, MA (Tel: 01858 465260)
Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference
12 The Point, Rockingham Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7QU
Tel: 01858 465260 • Fax: 01858 465759 • email: