Nurturing pupils through the Year 9 transition - Hurstpierpoint College

Nurturing pupils through the Year 9 transition

Mike Lamb, Director of Staff and Pupil Wellbeing at Hurst College explains why pupil wellbeing is paramount, especially around the key Year 9 transition

Most people would agree that good mental health and wellbeing is the basis for a happy and successful life at school and beyond. It is at the core of what we do at Hurst and which we consider is especially important around the key Year 9 transition time, particularly in the uncertain world we find ourselves in today.

Transition process

Moving schools can be a challenging experience for pupils (and parents) and it is important for schools to work closely together to ensure a successful transition. This process begins well before a pupil joins us. To smooth the academic transition, share ideas and best practice, we invite key staff from our feeder prep schools to witness first-hand how we teach the key subjects. We also work closely with the respective headteachers to determine how best to support each pupil when they join us. In addition, our current pupils return to their prep schools to share experiences of what it was like when they joined.

Under normal circumstances, we host a special two-day event – with an overnight for boarders – before pupils join Year 9. They take part in a variety of activities and challenges, in different teams, to acquire a real taste for life at Hurst. It is a fantastic experience and helps pupils to familiarise themselves with their new school, make new friends and meet their teachers.

Pupils new to year 9 start the school year before other year groups for a three-day induction programme. This allows staff to focus on supporting new pupils before the school is full again and helps with orientation and a sense of belonging.

This is not – and should not – be the end of supporting the transition. There are a number of teambuilding and bonding experiences in the first few weeks, such as a multi-activity day involving abseiling, zip wire, potholing and the like.

Keeping pupils engaged

We believe that a busy, challenging, engaging, rewarding daily and weekly timetable is vital to ensure all pupils settle successfully. The school day is packed with learning and activities. There is the opportunity to exercise during three games sessions each week, either through team sports, such as rugby or netball, or alternatives such as climbing, gym or triathlon. All year 9 pupils also take part in drama, dance and PE. There is also an activities afternoon each Tuesday – with everything from football to shooting. Plus, enrichment activities later in the week which could involve dismantling a Dyson vacuum, developing travel writing skills or learning Mandarin Chinese.

The Year 9 wellbeing programme was designed to provide the pupils with a quieter moment in the middle of the week. On a carousel over the year, pupils can develop fitness techniques, practice yoga and spend time on the college farm. They also learn how to make fires and shelters in the surrounding woods.

Robust tutorial programme

Through a diverse and varied curriculum, we believe that pupils will thrive and develop the life skills they need to achieve their personal bests. Combined with a robust tutorial programme this helps them develop other attributes such as effective study skills, an understanding of the world around them and good relationships with others. This will stand them in good stead for life beyond school.

Only when a school knows its pupils can they identify the type of support required, which is why our tutors meet regularly with pupils in their care. The school works closely with parents to help pupils achieve their potential.

Through these initiatives we strive to develop well-rounded, world-aware, independent, happy and kind young men and women who will also have a succeed in their next transition beyond Hurst.


Please follow the links below for further information about Hurst College, an independent, co-educational, day and flexi/weekly boarding school for pupils aged 4–18, located just to the north of the village of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex.

Prep & Pre-Prep
Senior School
Sixth Form
College Campus

Hurst College’s inspection reports and reviews:
ISC Inspection reports
Good Schools Guide