New head master of Eton is an old boy

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Eton College has appointed an old boy as its next head master for the first time in more than half a century. Tony Little, head of Oakham School, an independent school in Rutland, will take over in August next year after the retirement of John Lewis.

Mr Little, 47, was at Eton Choir School before moving to the main school on a bursary. The last head who was an old Etonian was Sir Claude Elliott, in charge from 1933 until 1949.

Before the 20th century, Eton head masters had usually been educated there and at King's College, Cambridge, its sister foundation. But since then they have tended to have studied elsewhere.

Eric Anderson, who as Eton provost is chairman of the school's governing body and who taught Tony Blair at Fettes College in Edinburgh, said: "We are really delighted that Tony Little is coming here as head master.

"He has already proved himself to be one of the outstanding headmasters of his generation and we were unanimous that he was the ideal appointment for Eton at this moment.

"We considered a considerable number of candidates and made inquiries in Australia, New Zealand, America and elsewhere, but there was no doubt that Tony Little was the best man for the job."

Mr Little said: "I am absolutely delighted by this appointment. I very much look forward to building on Eton's reputation for excellence in education."

Mr Little has spent all his career in independent schools. After graduating from Corpus College, Cambridge, where he read English, he taught at Tonbridge School in Kent and Brentwood School in Essex before becoming headmaster of Chigwell School, Essex, when he was 35. He took over at Oakham, a co-educational boarding and day school, in 1996.

In recent years, Eton has gained a reputation as an academically excellent public school. The present headmaster, John Lewis, a New Zealander, took over in 1994 and supervised the education of Prince William and Prince Harry. He is retiring at 60.