CHALLENGING pupils to “achieve their personal bests” whilst preparing them for life beyond education is the aim of Hurst College.
“At Hurst it is not all about the trophies – it is about preparing pupils for their future,” explained Headmaster Tim Manly. “Developing confidence, success in working with others and community problem solving – all these things will help them to become successful and happy adults.
“Hurst pupils have a real sense of ‘I’m up for it’, make the most of what they have and what is around them, and encourage and support others to do the same.”
Hurst marries the traditional with the innovative. It is forward looking and progressive. “We understand it is about a balance between home, school and family,” said Mr Manly. “Our children are not the stereotypical public school product – they have a great sense of self and their place in the world, and we have pupils who will enter all walks of life.”
More than 1,000 pupils aged 4-18 attend Hurst. Some start in Pre-Prep or Prep, but many join the senior school, which is home to more than 780 pupils, from elsewhere for GCSEs and A levels. Founded in 1859, Hurst was originally a boys’ school but 20 years ago girls were welcomed and now make up 47 per cent of the pupils. Flexi and weekly boarding is offered until Sixth Form when pupils can board full time.
Set in the heart of rural Sussex, Hurstpierpoint College is truly stunning, adding to the wonderful feel you get as you walk the corridors. The school’s breathtaking chapel is a focal point and used for services at the beginning and end of every week. Beautiful flint buildings surround the central quad which forms the heart of the campus.
Eleven school houses provide day and boarding pupils with space to study, socialise and relax while the house system brings different year groups together, forming supportive friendships and a wonderful inter-house rivalry. All pupils in the Upper Sixth, boys and girls, are accommodated in a superb hall of residence style building.
New extensions have created modern teaching spaces for the wide variety of subjects available at GCSE and A-Level, whilst the art rooms and photography studio showcase the stunning array of work created by the pupils.
Mr Manly explained: “There is a wonderful feel here at Hurst and that is down to the fact it is about the children and not the school. It is also about making sure we continue to improve. We have doubled in size in the last ten years and we are taking that momentum to ensure we keep growing and developing.
“We believe very much in a broad and fully engaging curriculum with genuine access to sport, music and drama for all. It’s often through these areas and being part of the great community vibe that is Hurst that pupils grow and develop in positive ways.”
A dynamic, energetic learning environment encourages pupils to push themselves. The Challenge Grade system reinforces this – following bench mark tests pupils are challenged to achieve grades beyond those which they are predicted. Every four weeks they are measured against that grade and given extensive personal comments to help them achieve more.
One Upper Sixth pupil said students are always encouraged to take their love of a subject further and develop their independent study skills, in preparation for university. “Hurst also made me step out of my comfort zone and try things I would not normally do. I knew no one would judge me for not being very good and I found things I loved doing, like street dance, even if I wasn’t the best.”
Drama is a big feature at Hurst and brings pupils together from across the school. Twenty-plus productions a year are staged in the school’s own 250 seat theatre, stunning outside areas such as the Inner Quad as well as the more intimate drama or dance studios. One Lower Sixth pupil explained: “It is fun to be involved as you get to meet lots of different people from around the school that you would not normally know.”
Whilst Hurst may have the oldest Shakespeare Society in existence, productions are always innovative. “The way we stage Shakespeare in inspiring, combining the latest technology with the historic plays. It is so exciting to be involved in,” explained a passionate Upper Sixth student who has been able to combine his love of theatre with his academic passion for Biology.
Sport is available to all. Hurst operates an all inclusive “no-one on the bench” policy – whatever your ability you will be included in a team and get the opportunity to compete. Facilities are first class – there are two astro pitches, a large multi-sports hall with gym and an indoor swimming pool. The surrounding 140 acres of stunning Sussex countryside include the school’s own farm and playing fields used for seasonal sports such as rugby, cricket and athletics.
Music is strong – 160 pupils are members of the choir, every pupil has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and the Music School plays host to a number of concerts each term from the wide variety of bands, ensembles and choirs. One Upper Sixth pupil said: “You are encouraged to start up new groups so we formed our own baroque ensemble. There are always opportunities to take the initiative.”
The challenging, yet supportive, environment clearly works – exam results are excellent (with 11 pupils currently under offer for Oxbridge, five for Medicine/Veterinary Science and the vast majority for Russell Group universities), but more importantly the pupils are delightful, confident individuals, ready to make their mark on the world.