Founded on 21 December 1869 as the Headmasters’ Conference by Edward Thring, the Headmaster of Uppingham School, at a meeting attended also by the headmasters of Bromsgrove, Bury St Edmunds, King’s Canterbury, Felsted, Lancing, Liverpool College, Norwich, Oakham, Repton, Richmond, Sherborne and Tonbridge.

Changed its name to the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference in 1996 and now epresents the heads of the 242 leading independent boys co-educational schools in the United Kingdom (i.e. "public schools" ) together with an additional 78 overseas members. It is formally registered as a trades union, but its primary aim is the promotion of independent education.

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