St John’s House 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. They are strongly encouraged 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 games 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.
Tim Leeper was the founding Housemaster of Crescent House in 2005 and was then appointed Housemaster of St. John’s Upper Sixth form House in 2009. He is an enthusiastic biologist and was, for many years, Head of Hurst's Biology Department. A keen sportsman in his own right, he is in charge of the 2nd XV rugby and helps out with the senior cricket club. Married to Jan, who is Senior Mistress, they have 2 daughters, both of whom are in the Senior School.
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.
It is always my ambition that the students at St John’s have their best year at Hurst, work harder than they ever have before and, by the end of the year, are ready to leave; I think we ac hieved all those aims this year.
It was interesting to see the nerves with which some of the new students approached the House but it was pleasing to see supportive and positive new friendships becoming established so quickly, particularly at the Icebreaker disco. The students quickly settled in to the role as the leaders of the Hurst community: this was demonstrated by the excellent team of Prefects, the CCF officers, and the energy and dedication of our games players, musicians, actors and dancers. In the House music contest, the school charity day, the Christmas disco and many other occasions the Upper Sixth entered the wider life of the school with enthusiasm and enjoyment.
At St John’s however the first priority is always academic work. Once the university offers started to roll in the students saw the scale of the challenge before them and settled down to quiet, industrious study. In the Summer Term the students’ stamina and dedication was humbling to see as they helped and supported one another in study groups in their spare time. Once the exams were completed it came as a great disappointment to realise that this tremendous group of young people would now be leaving us, for pastures new.
My thanks go to the Prefects and the St John’s committee, to a wonderful team of dedicated, experienced tutors and particularly to the priceless Angela Browne. It’s been another great year at St John’s.
I can honestly say I have never worked as hard as I did in St Johns. However, the stress and worry of university applications and exams was coupled with memories I will treasure forever and friendships that will last long after Hurst.
Life in St John’s definitely confirms the phrase “school days are the best days of our life.” Mr Leeper and Mrs Browne, the “parents”, of the House immediately made me feel at home and are always on hand to help, support, guide, have a chat and make sure boarders are in bed at a somewhat reasonable time. They put every effort into ensuring St John’s is your best year with regular social nights, discos, take-aways and barbeques. The social events highlight the close-knit community as social groups morph, friendships strengthen and the Hurst Spirit flourishes.
St John’s is completely different to the other Houses, the previous years are left behind and you start with a clean slate. You are given more independence and freedom to make your own decisions, whilst enjoying many of the responsibilities and privileges that are reserved for the final year. The staff members in St John’s have an unbreakable spirit and strive to make everyone in the House a better person.
My year group is an amazing bunch of people; so supportive and willing to get involved with all the challenges St John’s provided whether that be dance, drama, art, music or sport. This test of teamwork, spirit, determination and perseverance, will endure in the new OJs. St John’s has given us that and nurtured these qualities, which in the end are so much more important that the events that have occurred.
I have had the best time possible in St John’s and am proud to call myself a Hurst pupil; I will never forget anyone here.
The year at St John’s has been an experience that shall not be easily forgotten. A year in which so many paths, heading in different directions, have been united by life-long friendships and experiences shared in such a short period of time. As a new student in the Lower Sixth, the friendships I made only covered a fraction of the year group but once united into one House I seemed to know everyone! The icebreaker disco at the beginning of the Upper Sixth year was an ideal way to get away from the pressures of the working environment momentarily and to have fun with new found friends.
Living in St John’s introduced us to the lifestyle of university and prepared us for student life. We were living with others in ‘halls of residence’ style accommodation with communal kitchens. Managing time effectively and having a high level of maturity about our studies were attributes that St John’s nurtured and brought out in each and every one of us. This created a great learning environment where we could revise together and to inspire one another to achieve more.
It has been hard to bring an era at Hurst to an end. It holds so many great memories and experiences that I have enjoyed with the friends around me. It seems impossible to thank the year group and the staff enough for providing the opportunities to achieve in so many aspects of life; from academic subjects, sports to business ventures like young enterprise. So many memories have come from these successes. I know that the person I am today and will be in the future has been shaped by my experiences and the memories will stay with me for a very long time.
23 May 2013