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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-nine, 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 2017–2018
Elected Members
Chris King
Leicester Grammar School
Mike Buchanan
Ashford School
Shaun Fenton
Reigate Grammar School
Stephen Holliday
Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital
Divisional Members
Chairman – East
Steffan Griffiths
Norwich School
Secretary – East
Chris Staley
Wisbech Grammar School
Chairman – Irish
Paul Crute
Royal School Armagh
Secretary – Irish
Elizabeth Huddleson
Bangor Grammar School
Chairman – London
David Goodhew
Latymer Upper School
Secretary – London
Heather Hanbury
The Lady Eleanor Holles School
Chairman – North East
Mark Ronan
Pocklington School
Secretary – North East
David Craig
Queen Elizabeth Grammar School
Chairman – North West
Philip Britton
Bolton School
Secretary – North West
Michael Kennedy
St Mary’s College
Chairman – Scottish
John Halliday
High School of Dundee
Secretary – Scottish
Simon Mills
Robert Gordon’s College
Chair – South Central
Rachel Dent
The Abbey School
Secretary – South Central
Jesse Elzinga
Reading Blue Coat School
Chairman – South East
David Lamper
Kent College Canterbury
Secretary – South East
Jeremy Walker
King’s Rochester
Chairman – South West
Jonathan Standen
Plymouth College
Secretary – South West
Nicola Huggett
Blundell’s School
Chairman – West
Gus Lock
Warwick School
Secretary – West
Nick Gregory
Wycliffe College
Chairman – International
Peter Armstrong
International School Bangalore
Secretary – International
Mark Steed
JESS, Dubai 
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
Whitgift School
Chair of Inspection
Emma Hattersley
Godolphin School
Chairman of Communications
Mike Buchanan
Ashford School
Chairman of Membership
Brendan Wignall
Ellesmere College
Chairman of Sports
David Elstone
Hymers College
Mary Breen
St Mary’s School Ascot
Sally-Anne Huang
James Allen’s Girls’ School
Officers (in attendance)
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: