Berkhamsted Schools Group Principal named HMC Chair for 2021-22
Berkhamsted Schools Group Principal Richard Backhouse has been named Chair of the HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), which represents top independent schools, for 2021-22 and will be leading this association in addition to his position as Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group.
The HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) is a professional Association of heads of the world’s leading independent schools. HMC’s schools are individual and distinctive offering parents a rich variety of options when choosing the right education for their child. HMC schools include St Albans Boys School, St Albans High School for Girls, Aldenham and more distant schools from Cornwall to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. International schools include the Kellett School in Hong Kong where the Principal is Mark Steed, formerly Principal of the Berkhamsted Schools Group. Members include Eton, Wellington College, Royal Grammar School Guildford, Winchester and Harrow .
Richard Backhouse has been Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group since January 2016. His previous employment includes factory work on a kibbutz in Israel, bar work in a hotel in the French Alps, and running a bar in his hometown, he read Economics at Cambridge, expecting to go on to be a journalist. Experience coaching sport to children in summer holidays for a charity gave him a sense of the value of teaching, and so he went to Oundle School in 1990, expecting to teach only briefly before returning to university to do a PhD, but stayed for six years before moving to Bradfield College. At these schools he variously taught Economics, coached rowing and football, ran a Christian Union, and acquired managerial and leadership experience both running a boarding house and as Director of Pastoral and Extra-curricular activities. In 2005, he was appointed Principal at Monkton Combe School – an all through group of Schools – where he developed the scope and depth of the pupils’ opportunities and achievements.
Leading through a period of change
After his new appointment had been announced, Richard said: “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 the sector is currently facing. We will be adapting from what has been a period of change in teaching, with many schools in the independent sector delivering a remote learning environment and finding new stimulating ways to teach from a distance. I hope that the many lessons we have learnt as a sector during these past few weeks can help us drive forward in our educational partnerships to help pupils in a variety of situations.”
Berkhamsted Schools Group has a partnership with Denbigh High School, Luton and the Wren Academy Trust, London and local primary school, Hawridge and Cholesbury. Under Mr Backhouse’s leadership Berkhamsted Schools Group was recently highlighted as an example of best practice in a report to Parliament from the Social Mobility Commission (April 2019) for its state partnerships.
Richard said “100% of HMC Schools have partnerships with the state sector, and the benefit of the HMC to the educational sector as a whole is most obvious through these relationships. We have an opportunity to be at the forefront of the whole sector learning to digitise teaching – for remote learning where appropriate – while still 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 the sector, in 2021/22.”