Hurstpierpoint College - No-one’s beneath the radar

“I’m not that good at hockey, I’m in the D Team, but I still have a great time.” This Year 10’s experience sums up much about life at Hurstpierpoint College. While he excels in academia and his main passion is for drama, this pupil joins in all aspects of school life with gusto, and always tries his best.

It’s an ethos of which Headmaster Tim Manly is extremely proud. “At Hurst we love our B,C,D and E teams. No-one’s beneath the radar and no-one’s on the bench. We encourage everyone to participate fully in school life, and to do their best in every area.” He discourages a culture where only some subjects are ‘cool’, and seeks an environment where every pupil can be themselves and fully enjoy their school experience. “It’s not about elites or tribes. Here, you tell the boys they’re doing dance and they’ll say ‘ok, I’ll give it a go’.”

This theme is evident throughout the school. Pupils are excited to explain the diversity of their experience and achievement. Rugby captain is also captain of the choir. You can be studying in state-of-the-art science labs one minute and kayaking the next. School day is long and jam-packed with inspiring opportunities.

Tim Manly has been headmaster since 2005, overseeing huge growth in pupil numbers and achievements, while preserving the friendly nature, ethos and character of the school, which was founded by Nathaniel Woodard in 1849.

More than 1,000 pupils aged 4-18 now attend Hurst. Some start in Pre-Prep or Prep, but many join from elsewhere for GCSEs and A levels. New pupils praise the friendly welcome they receive: “I settled in really quickly, and I love it. I get so much more help with my homework here. I’ve been able to try lots of new activities and I’m hoping to go on to study philosophy and psychology, subjects I wouldn’t have had the chance to study at my last school.”

Friendly competition

There are ten school houses, providing day and boarding pupils with space to study, socialise and relax. House system also brings different year groups together, forming supportive friendships: “If I’m having a problem with my homework there’s always a teacher to help, but I can also ask a sixth former who’ll know all about it.” Another pupil added: “The teachers tell us, the worst thing you can do is not ask if you don’t understand something. They make you feel really comfortable and it’s not a problem if you need to ask for help.” Houses also enjoy fierce but friendly competition in sports, music, debating and general knowledge competitions.

Pupils speak passionately about the range of academic choice. “Languages like Latin and Ancient Greek are really good to do, and if you’re interested in a subject teachers are always ready to give you more to learn, they really stretch you.”

School has the oldest Shakespeare Society in existence, with a production every year. “Performing Shakespeare is so much fun, the teachers are great at explaining the language and putting it into context during our workshops. It’s a real benefit when we come to study Shakespeare in English later on,” a Year 10 student said. Shakespeare plays are just one part of the 20-plus productions staged each year. Drama rehearsals and workshops bring together pupils from across the school, creating a warm sense of community. Students also involved backstage preparations and direct shows. School’s own theatre offers a versatile large stage for dramatic and musical productions. Outside areas including picturesque Inner Quad also used for performances. Drama studio is loved by pupils as a more intimate setting for shows, with fully equipped dance studio next door.

“Performing Shakespeare is so much fun, the teachers are great at explaining the language and putting it into context during our workshops.”


Every pupil has the opportunity to learn a musical instrument in the Music School’s small practice rooms, it also has drum room and music tech facilities. Music hall hosts many concerts each term.

Set in 140 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside, there’s plenty of space for evolution. School has two astro-pitches in addition to a large multi-sports hall with gym and swimming pool. Pupils use the surrounding countryside for sailing, kayaking and for Duke of Edinburgh expeditions – all are encouraged to take silver and many Sixth Formers achieve gold.

Campus developments have seen state of the art facilities springing up and original parts of the school being repurposed. Large new library opened in September 2013, its former space now a new girls’ day house. New mezzanine floor in the beautiful chapel allows whole school to come together twice a week. St John’s Upper Sixth Halls of Residence provide a university-style environment, smoothing the path from school to further education.

Headmaster Tim Manly said: “It’s not about getting good results for the sake of the school. Children are at their best when they’re fully engaged, achieving and feeling confident. We tell them, you’ll be judged on two things: how you make the most of the opportunities and talents you have, and how you treat one another. If you get these things right, you’ll have a great time here.”

Judging by the results, students have been keen to accept this challenge.

Note from the Head

“… now the first choice for many parents who would traditionally have sent their children further afield.” “… each child is tracked and challenged to reach their full potential in all areas of their lives, … they are encouraged to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.”

Extracts from The Good Schools Guide’s current report on Hurst

Hurst constantly strives to be outstanding. Not just in everything we do but also in the manner in which we do it. The school is driven by a determination to enable each child to achieve, and then continue to build upon, their personal bests throughout their school career in all aspects of school life.

Hurst provides teaching, mentoring and coaching of the highest order, a phenomenal range of facilities (that continue to improve year-on-year) and access to opportunities of every sort within its welcoming, warm and dynamic community. We make no secret of the fact that at Hurst we encourage, indeed expect, our pupils to fully engage whilst they are with us.

Genuine, sustained engagement opens the door to new worlds of opportunity. A real love of learning develops. Nurtured in a community stimulated by intelligent conversation and intellectual challenge, information grows into knowledge and matures into understanding, wisdom and self-knowledge.

When we reflect upon the life of the College, we don’t just focus upon on the great headline triumphs but on the degree to which our children, all our children, are truly engaged with Hurst life. I know that enabling our children to pursue and achieve their personal bests is how they develop into successful, independent and confident individuals which is the only outcome that does justice to both their abilities and talents and the faith placed in us by their parents.

Tim Manly


"My time at Hurst has been characterised by the sunny days of summer, those moments of success you’ll never forget, and the friendships that’ll last long after our school days are over. I have so many fantastic memories here. I’m proud to call myself a Hurst pupil, because this school has taught me so much about life."
2012 Upper Sixth leaver, currently studying Philosophy at Oxford University

"We remain thrilled with how well our daughter is thriving at Hurst.  She has been given so many opportunities to both learn and develop her extra-curricular interests.  The College helps pupils blossom into self-assured, competent and caring individuals."
Current parent of a girl in Year 10

"Hurstpierpoint has a holistic attitude to learning.  Consequently, the students are beautifully well-rounded.  The pastoral care system is superb and has been a fantastic support for my son."
Current parent of a boy in the Upper Sixth

Coming events

Sixth Form (16+) entry only) Open Morning
Thursday, 8th September 2016
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS
Pre Prep, Prep School and Senior School Open Morning
Saturday, 24th September 2016
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS
Year 7 (11+) entry only Open Morning
Tuesday, 11th October 2016
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS
Pre Prep, Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form Open Morning
Saturday, 11th March 2017
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS
Pre Prep, Prep School, Senior School and Sixth Form Open Morning
Saturday, 13th May 2017
Location: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS

School details

Address: Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9JS
Phone: 01273 833636
Head: Tim Manly
Founded: 1848
Pupils: Pre-Prep: 54, Prep: 291, Senior: 433, Sixth Form: 306
Ages: 4 - 18
Prospectus: Request a Prospectus