Housemaster: Nicholas Beeby
Nicholas Beeby is the College's Director of Drama. He was Housemaster of Chevron, one of the College’s day boys’ houses between 2008 and 2013. Nicholas is married to Heather Beeby, the College’s new Director of Communication and former Head of the Prep School. They have two daughters, one of whom left the College in July 2011 and is currently studying Drama at university in London. Their second daughter is in the Upper Sixth this year, with her father as her housemaster!
Nicholas’ feelings about the culture of the house are similar to the ethos he promoted in Chevron. He is interested in the house turning out civilised young people who are equipped to thrive in the wider world and who have a clear sense of what it means to do the right thing.
Angela's three sons attended a local Independent School during which time Angela was a very active 'housewife'. Subsequently, she joined the IPC (Magazines) Division of Reed Business Information from which, some 9 years ago, she joined Hurstpierpoint College. Her husband Mike, now retired from the Stock Exchange, also works for the College.
St John's House sits in its own grounds yet is conveniently close to the centre of the campus. It is Hurst's Upper Sixth Form co-educational day and boarding House. Its structure, facilities and the light touch with which the House is managed ensure that it provides an environment best suited to students’ academic, personal and social development in their final school year. Each pupil has a study bedroom and all are encouraged to undertake independent study in their own time not least as preparation for the less structured life they will experience later at university.
All study bedrooms have desk, bed and handbasin; girls and boys are housed in separate wings, each of which has its own laundry and social room. The centre of the House contains the communal TV room, computer room, conference/workroom and social centre with a bar and kitchen. Its facilities are outstanding and enable students to work together in an atmosphere similar to that found at University.
Inherent in the St John’s concept is the principle that the students will manage their own community. There will be opportunities for them to arrange School functions both for themselves and the rest of the School, to foster links with the local community, organise charity events and establish a close working relationship with both Prep and Senior Schools. Life in St John's provides an exciting challenge at the crucial point in a student's school career whilst continuing to provide firm foundations for many aspects of their future life.
The primary focus for St John's students will, of course, be their academic studies and residents are greatly encouraged and assisted to organise themselves and enhance their independent learning skills. Academic seminars, discussion groups and the dissection of quality broadsheets are all encouraged. Learning styles, levels of motivation and details of personal organisation are individual but the common goal is working towards the achievement of their UCAS targets and, in this, students are supported and guided through a strong tutorial system.
The Upper Sixth are also encouraged to be active participants in the broader school life. As positive role models and often as elite performers academically, musically, dramatically and on the sports field, they are encouraged to coach, guide and inspire younger pupils; in short, for their own benefit and for the benefit of younger pupils, members of St John's are encouraged - where appropriate - to work with, and alongside, adult members of staff.
St John’s also has a powerful social function. The year group is now fully integrated (although each student maintains a link with the school house of which they were formerly a member) and quickly establishes a group ethos and loyalty which develop into strong, sometimes lifelong, friendships. A St John’s committee gives the residents an opportunity to express their views on matters of their choosing, whether relating to the House itself or to wider school issues. Various social functions punctuate and highlight the passage of the year culminating in the magnificent Leavers’ Ball at the end of the Summer term. On a domestic level, pupils are encouraged to do their own washing as part of their preparation for the ‘next step’.
It is our aim that by the end of the year, Hurst 'graduates' will face the world with confidence and maturity, having achieved grades that each individual once regarded as ‘ambitious’ and overall results that will enable every student to embark with confidence on the next stage of their chosen path through life.
My St John’s experience
Before moving into St John’s, I asked some students from the year above what it was like; everyone told me that it was the best year of their school lives and that they made friends with people they never expected. The work ethos was fantastic, and the social events such as the Icebreaker Disco provided the perfect opportunity to meet other people in your year. The fact that you’re in a large house with the entire year group means that it is much more like university. With communal kitchens and ‘halls of residence’ style accommodation, St John’s successfully makes you feel much more mature with much more responsibility. I must admit their enthusiastic comments were met with scepticism; having spent the past 4 years in Shield I was reluctant to move into a larger house, and I pessimistically expected our small IB group to remain hidden in our rooms. However, I was instantly, and pleasantly, surprised.
Certain social events will always be remembered; the Icebreaker Disco (the theme was ‘around the world’ and costumes included gap year students, cowboys, Soviets and leprechauns), the Pub Quiz night (which was fiercely competitive) and Live at St John’s (where musical talent ranged from self-composed songs to acapella duets). These evenings included the entire house and provided the opportunity to mix with those from other houses that you didn’t meet in LVI, which made the transition into St John’s much easier. Whilst the social evenings were exciting, the best evenings were the ones where you just relaxed by playing a game of Ping-Pong or foosball with your friends over a J2O and packet of crisps. You learn to really cherish those free moments, and the open and friendly atmosphere made St John’s a comfortable place of work and rest.
Many of us took part in the House Shout competition by joining the St John’s ensemble – we sang “Some Nights” by Fun, orchestrated by the more musical members of the House, and it ended up being a huge success. We were also welcomed back by our old housemasters and housemistresses to take part in the house song, which most of us gladly got involved in. We were also invited back to take part in sport, drama and music, so when you leave your house to go to St John’s, you’re not leaving forever.
Academically, everyone was in thesame boat. We all wanted to do well, and all wanted to make sure we achieved our potential. As January exams approached, the IB students respected the Alevel students’ need for quiet and comfort, and vice versa in May. Our housemaster and housemistress were always there for us when we needed reassurance or guidance, and they, without a doubt, ensured that all the students in St John’s were happy and confident with their work. They really looked out for us, which was particularly needed when academic and extracurricular pressures as well as UCAS application became overwhelming.
The perfect end to a successful year came at the close of the summer term. Prize and Sports day, the Leavers’ Play and the Leavers’ Ball gave us the final chance to take part once more. Personally, St John’s was my favourite year at Hurst, but this is because I took advantage of having a fantastic year group, dedicated teachers and endless support. St John’s really is a unique place, and I would encourage everyone in UVIth to make the most of it, to use all the resources available and to be confident in your work, sport, activities and everything you become involved in.
Kit Digby (UVI leaver 2013)