About HMC

Image courtesy of Rossall School.

HMC (The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is the oldest and most prominent Association of independent school Heads in the English-speaking world.

HMC has 292 Members in the British Isles and a further 56 international Members. Our Members lead schools that are distinguished

by their excellence in pastoral care, co-curricular provision and classroom teaching. Members of HMC have met annually in conference

since the first meeting in 1869. HMC today is a thriving, pro-active Association of leading figures in school education.

In this year...

120 years ago

The Board of Education bill

The Government were showing a willingness to meet what was in the main a professional need and a professional demand with regard to the organisation of secondary education. The Government had shown that they were listening to the voice of the profession, which on this subject was far more decisive than any other force in the community. The great difficulties which beset any Government that attempted to deal with the problem of the local authorities had been felt to be serious by the present Government; and the reason for putting it on one side was simply that they wished to pass the less contentious portion of the subject and to proceed to that more difficult problem later on.

The Conference should consider whether they would not be wise in giving their undivided support to the Government. If their support were seriously divided, it might make it easy for the Government say, in view of the pressure of other subjects, that they might leave this alone for another year; and then one could not feel quite certain when the process of organising Secondary Education in England would ever begin.

HMC Conference, December 1898. Proposed by Edward Lyttleton (Haileybury)

80 years ago

A spirit of practical service and friendliness at home and abroad

The late crisis aroused widespread sense of the need for some big national service movement (preferably on a voluntary basis) which is, of course, now under discussion. At this particularly critical time, when it is generally agreed the future of the civilized world, including that of public schools, depends on nations and classes getting together and co-operating, there is an overwhelming case, not to drop military training, but at all costs to supplement it with an organisation whose aim is more positive and constructive. This means that in the minds of growing boys the habit of “military-defence-mindedness” should be tempered by another tendency, namely, the habit of practical and constructive cooperation.

The present international situation - apart from the relationship between classes within this country - demands that in the minds and attitude of the rising generation we should give practical scope for the development of three particular qualities: first, a readiness for practical constructive public service; second, a spirit of active goodwill towards others, whether they be of different nations or in different walks of life; and, thirdly, the spirit of adventure.

HMC Conference, December 1938. Proposed by Thorold Coade (Bryanston School)

40 years ago

Television and learning

The whole question of the influence of television on learning was discussed. First, it was recognised as an aid, an enrichment and at times a stimulation, but it was generally agreed that it was no substitute for direct teaching. Critical examination of programmes such as “Starsky and Hutch” could prove valuable in bringing greater critical awareness to our young.

It was felt that many 13-years-olds today lacked the ability to concentrate. It was said that the average boy of 8-13 appeared to be watching about six hours television a day. David Smeaton of the BBC joined the group. He referred to television as “chewing gum for the eyes” and admitted that simplified language was used on television because 60% of the attention was taken by the eyes and complex sentences would not be understood. Mr Smeaton vigorously defended the record of television and argued the responsibility of schools and parents could best be fulfilled by recording good programmes and rejecting bad. He emphasised that producers of programmes were sensible and genuine in their efforts to achieve the right balance in programmes.

Discussion at the HMC Conference, September 1978