Elite private school group HMC takes on new chair

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference has appointed Richard Backhouse as its chair for 2021

Catherine Lough

Private schools: Richard Backhouse has been appointed chair of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference

A body of elite UK private schools has appointed a new chair-elect for 2020-21.

The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), which represents leading independent schools in the UK, has appointed Richard Backhouse as its chair for 2021-22.

He will take up the position of chair-elect in the autumn, when Sally-Anne Huang will take up the role as chair from Fiona Boulton. 


Exclusive: HMC executive director Mike Buchanan resigns

Read: HMC appoints new leader to represent elite independent schools

HMC boss'Our schools are a bit like socialism in action'


Mr Backhouse has been the principal of the Berkhamsted Schools Group in Hertfordshire since 2016. 

Independent schools: 'A period of change in teaching'

“I am honoured to have been chosen to lead this association during what will be a very important year for the education sector following the unprecedented challenges it is currently facing," Mr Backhouse said.

“We will be adapting from what has been a period of change in teaching, during which many independent schools have delivered a remote-learning environment and have found new and stimulating ways to teach from a distance.

"I hope that the many lessons we have learned during this period can help us develop our educational partnerships and assist pupils in a variety of situations.”

Mr Backhouse entered teaching after coaching children in sport during a summer holiday for a charity, and joined Oundle School in 1990, expecting to teach only briefly before undertaking a PhD.

He studied economics at the University of Cambridge, and said he has previously undertaken a range of work including factory work on a kibbutz in Israel, bar work in the French Alps, and running a bar in his home town.

He taught at Oundle for six years before moving to Bradfield College, where he directed pastoral and extracurricular activities.

In 2005, he was appointed principal of Monkton Combe School in Somerset.

Mr Backhouse said: “I am proud that 100 per cent of HMC Schools have partnerships with the state sector and their local communities, and of the benefit of those relationships to enriching education more broadly. We have an exciting future as partners, good citizens and, at times, leaders in innovation driven by our independence and devotion to putting our pupils first in all things.

“In particular, we have an opportunity to be at the forefront of learning to digitise teaching – for remote learning where appropriate – whilst still fostering great relationships and securing the character education for which HMC schools are rightly famous all over the world. I look forward to serving the HMC, as it serves its members and education.”

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories

Will teachers fight a 'catch-up' extended school day?

Will teachers fight a 'catch-up' extended school day?

LONG READ: Longer school days are predicted to be key to a 4-year Covid recovery plan due to be unveiled by the PM next month. William Stewart examines whether this means a bust-up with teachers' leaders.
William Stewart 18 Apr 2021