(David Montgomery/Getty Images)

Old school reformer

Eric understood that the system had to stop being a relic of the past

Sir Eric Anderson KT 1936-2020

Sir Eric Anderson was Head Master of Eton 1980-1994, then Provost, and teacher of three prime ministers. Guy Walters recalls a stern and awe-inspiring figure while Graham Stewart asked colleagues, friends and former pupils, for their memories of a hugely influential educator


Eric was one of the first in the private school system to spot that, for survival, the system had to stop being a relic of the past — old school providers of colonial administrators and complacent elites who wanted their children only to mix with their own class — and become instead modern places of education where their selling point was educational excellence.

So I came across Eric at Fettes where he was made housemaster of a new house — Arniston — which looked and felt quite differently and had, for example, no fagging. That late 1960s revolution in private schools made them what they are today. He was also an unusual combination of high-grade intellect, inspired teaching ability — giving me a lifelong love of Sir Walter Scott — and worldly capability for running things efficiently.

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