Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) is an association of the head teachers of 296 independent schools (both boarding schools and day schools) in the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and the Republic of Ireland. There are also International Members (mostly from the Commonwealth) and 30[1] Associate Members who are head teachers of state schools or other influential individuals in the world of education, who endorse and support the work of HMC.

Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
Leading Independent Schools
TypeNon-governmental organisation
PurposeEducational accreditation
HeadquartersMarket Harborough
Region served
United Kingdom
349 schools
Executive Director
Mike Buchanan


The Conference dates from 1869 when Edward Thring, Headmaster of Uppingham, asked sixty to seventy of his fellow headmasters[2][3] to meet at his house to consider the formation of a "School Society and Annual Conference".[4] Fourteen accepted the invitation,[2] and twelve were present for the whole of the initial meeting: Thring himself, George Blore (Bromsgrove), Albert Wratislaw (Bury St Edmunds), John Mitchinson (The King's School, Canterbury), William Grignon (Felsted), Robert Sanderson (Lancing College), George Butler (Liverpool College), Augustus Jessopp (Norwich School), William Wood (Oakham), Steuart Pears (Repton), T. H. Stokoe (Richmond), Daniel Harper (Sherborne), and James Welldon (Tonbridge). John Dyne (Highgate School) attended on the second day, and Alfred Carver (Dulwich College) did not turn up.[5][6] From that date there have been annual meetings. It changed its name from the "Headmasters' Conference" to the "Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference" in 1996.[6] The current Chair is Shaun Fenton, Headmaster of Reigate Grammar School, and the current Executive Director is Mike Buchanan.

Membership of the HMC is often considered to be what defines a school as a public school in England and Wales.[7][8] Not all private, independent schools are in the HMC; in particular, many notable girls' schools are not members, partly because historically the HMC was for boys' schools only. Today HMC's membership includes boys', girls' and co-educational schools.


The size of the Conference has grown. Until the 1970s, membership was confined to 200 schools.

List of HMC member schools

The following are the member schools, listed with their headmaster or headmistress. In some schools other titles are used, such as "High Master", "Warden", "Rector" and "Principal".




Northern Ireland



Isle of Man

Republic of Ireland

International members



Australia and New Zealand

Central, North and South America

Continental Europe

Middle East


HMC Projects in Central and Eastern Europe

HMC Projects in Central and Eastern Europe is a charity offering opportunities for students and young teachers from Central and Eastern Europe to develop themselves, by coming to HMC member schools in UK for a year.

Chairmen of the Headmasters' Conference (HMC)


Chairmen of the Headmasters'and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC)[37]

<*> Change to Academic Year Chairmanship

Chairmen of the HMC Committee[37]

The following were Chairmen of the HMC Committee in the early years of the Conference. In these years they served alongside the Chairman of the Conference (the ‘annual meeting’) until, in 1921, it was agreed that the Chairman of the Annual Meeting should always also be Chairman of the HMC Committee.

  • G Ridding, Head Master, Winchester College, 1870, 1871, 1872
  • Daniel Harper, Head Master, Sherborne School, 1874, 1875, 1876, 1877, 1878
  • G C Bell, Master, Marlborough College, 1879, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1885, 1886, 1887
  • T W Jex-Blake, Head Master, Rugby School, 1880
  • E C Wickham, Head Master, Wellington College, 1884, 1888
  • E Warre, Head Master, Eton College, 1889, 1893
  • W A Fearon, Head Master, Winchester College, 1891, 1895
  • E Lyttelton, Headmaster, Haileybury, 1898, 1902, 1904
  • H W Moss, Headmaster, Shrewsbury School, 1900
  • J Gow, Head Master, Westminster School, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1911
  • R Cary Gilson, Chief Master, King Edward's School, Birmingham, 1909, 1910
  • F Fletcher, Head Master, Charterhouse, 1913
  • C Lowry, Headmaster, Tonbridge School, 1916

Chairmen of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) by Institution[37]

InstitutionYear of First ChairmanshipTotal Years as Chair
Winchester College187315
Eton College187914
Rugby School187611
Shrewsbury School189811
King Edward's School, Birmingham18727
Wellington College18815
The Manchester Grammar School19535
Sherborne School18704
Westminster School19124
Dulwich College18743
Marlborough College18773
University College School18823
Merchant Taylors' School18923
Magdalen College School19073
St. Paul's School, London19693
Uppingham School18692
Harrow School18782
Tonbridge School19022
Malvern College19062
Monkton Combe School19632
Ampleforth College19752
Highgate School18711
Clifton College18751
Bradfield College19001
Christ's Hospital19041
The Leys School19091
Reading Blue Coat School19131
Bristol Grammar School19701
King's College School, Wimbledon19721
George Watson's College19761
Bolton School19781
Lancing College19801
Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School19851
Bradford Grammar School19881
Canford School19891
Trinity School of John Whitgift19931
Portsmouth Grammar School19961
Daniel Stewart's and Melville College19981
Bryanston School20001
Norwich School20011
Berkhamsted Collegiate School20051
Forest School20061
The Perse School20071
Wolverhampton Grammar School2007-81
Dean Close School2008-91
St Albans School2009–101
City of London School2010–111
Leicester Grammar School2015–162
Ashford School2016–171
Reigate Grammar School2018-191

See also


  1. "HMC Associates". HMC Website. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. Leinster-Mackay, Donald P. The educational world of Edward Thring: a centenary study, Falmer Press, 1987, ISBN 1-85000-253-3, ISBN 978-1-85000-253-6. p. 100
  3. Other sources including some Headmasters' Conference papers say "Uppingham asked thirty-seven of his fellow headmasters ..." (Headmasters' Conference. Independent Schools Yearbook: Official book of reference at the Headmasters' Conference ..., A & C Black, 1987 p. xlv)
  4. Headmasters' Conference, The Public and Preparatory Schools Year Book, Adam & Charles Black, 1968 p. 3
  5. Leinster-Mackay, Donald P. (1987). The educational world of Edward Thring: a centenary study. Falmer Press. p. 100.
  6. Edward Thring (Uppingham School), (Bromsgrove School), (Bury St Edmunds), (The King's School, Canterbury), (Felsted School), (Lancing College), (Liverpool College), (Norwich School), (Oakham School), (Repton School), (Richmond), (Sherborne School) and (Tonbridge School).( Source "The public schools and the general educational system: Report of the Committee on public schools appointed by the president of the Board of education in July 1942, Volume 1942, Part 3", H. M. Stationery Off., 1944, p. 29)
  7. Tony Halpin Public schools plead to be let off fines over fee-fixing in The Times 1 October 2005 "The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of leading public schools is due to hold its annual conference next week."
  8. "Our Election Manifesto and The Queen's Speech both speak of 'public schools'. The only practicable definition of these (which was broadly that used by the Fleming Committee (The Public Schools and the general education system. Report of the Committee on Public School Appointed by the President of the Board of Education in July 1942. Published 1944)) is 'schools now in membership of the Headmasters Conference, Governing Bodies Association or Governing Bodies of Girls' Schools Association'"(Public Schools: Memorandum by the Sectary of State for Education and Science (PDF), 19 November 1965, p. 1)
  9. "HMC Schools Directory(A)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  10. "A new Headmaster, a new chapter". AKS Lytham Website. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  11. "HMC Schools Directory(B)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. "HMC Schools Directory(C)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  13. "HMC Schools Directory(D)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. "HMC Schools Directory(E)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  15. "HMC Schools Directory(F)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  16. "HMC Schools Directory(G)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  17. "HMC Schools Directory(H)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  18. "HMC Schools Directory(I)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  19. "HMC Schools Directory(J)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  20. "HMC Schools Directory(K)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  21. "HMC Schools Directory(L)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  22. "HMC Schools Directory(M)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  23. "HMC Schools Directory(N)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. "HMC Schools Directory(O)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  25. "HMC Schools Directory(P)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  26. "HMC Schools Directory(Q)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  27. "HMC Schools Directory(R)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  28. "HMC Schools Directory(S)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  29. "HMC Schools Directory(T)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  30. "HMC Schools Directory(U)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  31. "HMC Schools Directory(W)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  32. "Winchester College - HMC". HMC. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  33. "HMC Schools Directory(Y)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  34. "HMC Schools Directory(V)". Hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  35. "HMC International Schools". hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  36. "HMC Associates List". hmc.org.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  37. Wilby, Peter (13 June 2017). "Elite private headteacher: 'The children we educate will create a fairer society'". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2017.
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