Get the most out of Independent Schools - Hurstpierpoint College

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Education should be much more than achieving the right grades. Nick Creed, Deputy Head of Co-curricular at Hurst College explains why as much value is placed on what goes on outside of the classroom as inside at independent schools.

Why does Hurst use the term co-curricular rather than extra-curricular?

We regard co-curricular activities as being key to the all-round education of every individual student, and use the term co-curricular because we believe that the activities should run alongside the academic curriculum as part of the weekly timetable. At our independent school, we value what goes on outside of the classroom as much as what goes on inside, because skills that are learnt through these activities can be transferred to the classroom.

Sport and games are compulsory throughout the week and our service afternoon is compulsory for students in Years 10 and 11, whilst the majority of our Sixth Formers continue to be part of the service programme. Dance and drama are compulsory for Year 9 students and have protected slots as part of the weekly timetable. Music activities such as the choir, orchestra and jazz band
also have protected slots. Specialist sports during games sessions include archery, climbing, rowing, sailing and mountain-biking.

Through these activities, students will not only gain certain skills and develop a range of qualities but they might also be introduced to a pastime or hobby which they can enjoy throughout their lives.

Why are extra-curricular opportunities so important in a child’s education?

The range of activities in independent schools provide many opportunities for students to try new ventures, confront risks and learn from experience – all crucial aspects in developing skills for life. The aim of our co-curricular programme is to equip students with the skills and experience to make a success of their lives beyond Hurst. Respect, responsibility, resilience and reflection are learnt through the programme, and students also learn how to communicate with each other as part of a team and in leading a team. The various activities also help them to become accurate decision-makers – another important asset for later life. Benefits from the more physical activities help to improve students’ health, wellbeing and fitness levels in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Which extra-curricular events tend to be the most popular among students?

We encourage our students to engage in as much of the co-curricular programme as possible – as a member of our dance companies or sports teams, performing in our drama or music productions or taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award.

We have highly qualified staff to deliver the activities and to bring out the best in each student. Some discover talents they didn’t realise they had – for example, first team rugby players have also taken lead roles in our Dance Showcase. By the time students leave Hurst, the majority will have performed in a sports team, on a dance floor, on the stage, as well as having marched with the CCF and been involved with recycling or another environmental activity.

Do you actively encourage girls to get involved in activities traditionally favoured by boys – and vice versa?

Our co-curricular programme is not focused on gender and therefore activities are not gender-specific. For example, boys are as equally involved in dance as the girls. In sport, some of the teams are made up of boys and girls – particularly cricket and hockey. Hurst boys and girls are strongly supportive of each other, whatever the activity, a characteristic for which the college is renowned.

How did you deal with co-curricular activities during remote learning?

One of the most interesting challenges was to redesign the school day to adapt to the new way of working. Some creative timetabling allowed for an earlier finish each day without losing any of our co-curricular provision. This last point proved critical: by continuing to offer a programme of assemblies, sports sessions, choir and orchestra practices, musical rehearsals, activities sessions and CCF (to name but a few), the regular rhythms of Hurst life continued – and the students stayed fit, healthy and active.


Please follow the links below for further information about Hurstpierpoint College, an independent, co-educational, day and 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