About HMC

Image courtesy of St Peter’s School, York.

HMC (The Headmasters’ and

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

HMC has 296 Members in the British Isles and a further 55 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...

100 years ago

Government scheme for pensions

In my opinion there is only one logical principle for the award of Government Pensions, and that is that the pension should be given in recognition of service; and that so long as the Government is satisfied that a school is not conducted for private profit and is proved to be efficient, any service in such a school ought to be recognised.

The House of Commons amended Mr Fisher’s Act, as you are probably aware. They thought it was unjust. There was a large number of Teachers in the country serving in schools who had just as much claim to say they were public servants as those in Grant-Earning schools. The house proceeded to amend the Act; but they did not go so far as to say that everyone who could show he had done public service in the schools was entitled to a pension.

At the present time every parent who sends his boy to one of our schools and pays for it himself, is freeing the State from the necessity of providing a school place for that child. By this Act the State is not only accepting that benefit, but it is also practically imposing upon the parent the duty of providing a pension for the Teacher as well.

HMC Conference, December 1919. Proposed by Fredrick Malim (Haileybury)

70 years ago

Poliomyelitis outbreaks

This, as everybody knows, is a matter of great concern and anxiety for all of us in boarding schools and there is still a considerable divergence of expert opinion about it. I suppose in the last resort it rests with the Headmaster of any school to make his own decision about what he is to do if a school is affected.

My own feeling is that as soon as we are confronted with a case, if we are to abandon all our physical activities and all our congregations, for my part, speaking as an individual, I feel that the life of the boarding school on these terms is almost impossible.

The question is complicated by the labelling of some earlier cases as abortive poliomyelitis where no paralysis takes place but where bacteriologically the disease is apparently poliomyelitis. The complication there is that so far as public health goes such a case is in fact not notified.

So long as that rough and ready criterion obtains it is a question of difficulty as to what extent we are to make known the position to the school or to anyone else when a case of abortive infantile paralysis has been proved.

HMC Conference, September, 1949. John Wolfenden (Shrewsbury), Chairman of the Conference

50 years ago

The first Black Paper

The Chairman invited Mr. A.E. Dyson to speak.

There was a need today not merely to state but to defend what was once regarded as self-evidently valid, a belief in arts and sciences, in traditional religious or moral values, in standards of excellence. Civilization was not a natural growth but an artificial creation and must be passed on. All our standards were under attack, the Universities, Grammar schools and Public schools being especial targets. We must be prepared to stand up and say things so obvious that we may appear guilty of banality.

In discussion the following points were made:

a. We must devise a strategy for fighting the battle “in the middle ground”. Little could be done with the extremists; the danger was that “half baked ideas” were appealing to sensible people.

b. The Black Paper could be attempting to attack too many targets, thereby losing sympathy because much that had been attacked was in fact good, e.g. certain aspects of Primary School teaching methods, the New Mathematics.

c. It should be made clear that what we are opposing is the assault by Progressives on learning itself, and the structural approach in education – selection, streaming, examinations and competition.

HMC London Division, October 1969