A welcome and introduction to the HMC Autumn Conference 2021 from HMC Chair-Elect, Richard Backhouse

Dear Colleagues,

Richard Backhouse HMCHMC Autumn Conference 2021 (Monday 27 to Wednesday 29 September) - headspace to refresh.

I am sure that we are all looking forward to something approaching what we used to call ‘normality’ – when we could remember what that was. I very much hope that our coming together at the end of September will feel more normal after eighteen months which has been anything but.

From its inception, HMC has gathered to listen to each other, and to hear from outside our sector – to be stimulated and challenged, informed and inspired. While I am enormously grateful for the way in which Divisions and clusters have provided support since we last congregated, I hope the 2021 Conference will give great opportunities to build further the collegiality which has been so valuable to us during the Covid crisis.

In assembling the programme, we have tried to give space for us to hear from each other, to reconnect, and to share a sense of what we have learned during the period in which our mutual support has shifted to Zoom, Teams or even text. There will be three sessions of workshops, a discussion lunch, and two panels, one of technologists and one of leaders of schools across Europe and North America. We will also hear from Rev Richard Coles after dinner on Monday 27 September, who will prompt us to be reflective, with humour, I anticipate.

During our public sessions, speakers will, I hope, bring perspectives from outside our sector. We will have opportunities to hear about the importance of Britain’s soft power in the world, the nature of the global political economy and its effect on us, diversity and inclusion, and the evolution of leadership in the British Army.

The balance between competition and collaboration seems to me to be an important element of our collective success in the future, as it has been in the past. I hope our collaborative conversation – our mutual encouragement, discussion and debate – will make this year’s conference a restorative one, in the sense that it restores and renews our reserves of energy, of vision, of belief that our roles make a difference and are of real value. Our external speakers will bring challenge, too, of course, and I hope members find these helpfully sharpening.

Having visited the International Convention Centre for Wales in the last few days, I can assure members that the location will be inspiring as well as providing plenty of space in which we can catch up with each other, learn from each other, and encourage each other.

In due course, as well as a booking form, there will also be an invitation from my wife to the husbands, wives and partners of members to join the conference, which will be sent to you by your PA. Just as our closest often share our burdens, I hope many will be able to share in our mutual refreshment and encouragement.

I very much look forward to seeing you all: your company will be an essential ingredient in what I hope and expect will be a terrific 48 hours in South Wales. In the meanwhile, may the rest of this academic year go well for you all!

Kind regards

Richard Backhouse
HMC Chair-Elect; Principal Berkhamsted