Young people: What is their ‘why’? - Hurstpierpoint College

Young people: What is their ‘why’?

At this moment of tremendous global sadness and anxiety we have to be careful with all talk of ‘turning a crisis into an opportunity’. But when you work with young people, the future is always in focus, so it does feel right to give at least some thought to what lessons we can learn, after we have escaped the shadow of Covid-19.

The months of physical school shutdown and the cancellation of GCSE and A-level exams provided an unprecedented opportunity, and indeed need, for students to challenge what their education is really all about. To recognise that the culmination of their school journey is not, in fact, the exam hall moment or the envelope in August moment, but instead they – and we – should focus on the kinds of people they will be when they leave school.

Being forced to step back from the daily grind of revision and past papers, which was just beginning to ramp up as the lockdown began, has hopefully helped educators remember what really matters: the characters of the young people whom we send out into the world. The aim surely is to turn our students into successful school leavers, young women and men who are ready for life after school and the challenges which they will undoubtedly face.

This process must begin by schools looking very closely at what our charges do day-in, day-out. An educational experience must provide each student with the opportunity and scope to reflect, review and respond to a wide variety of different situations and experiences (be that during hockey practice or in a physics lesson) since this will shape their personal values and qualities.

Over time they will develop into well-rounded and happy school leavers, by not only engaging with a huge plethora of different experiences, but also because they fully grasp the true value of these experiences. It goes far beyond the immediate gratification of matches won or grades achieved, but rather on their understanding and appreciation as to why they do these things and why they should engage with all the opportunities offered by their school.

The transformative power of a true all-round education through a planned developmental process will ensure that when students reach the end of their Sixth Form journeys they become mature characters who are able to honestly reflect, review and respond to a range of situations which will come their way in this ever-changing world.

They will have gained the necessary self-knowledge to confidently cope with anything life throws at them – in the workplace, university or, indeed, social situations. I feel the key ingredient to ensuring that we, as educators, succeed in supporting our students on this journey of self-discovery is that we sow the seed of one simple question: “What is your why?” as early as possible.

We need our charges to think clearly about what it is that will keep them motivated to strive to do the best they can even when things get tough. Where exactly do they see themselves after they have left school? What do they see themselves doing? The more clearly they can define and lock onto their true motivation – their ‘why’ – the more transformative and successful their educational journey will be.

A true education thus equates to the ability to lead a successful, productive and happy life that is individual to each person and determined by self-knowledge and their all-important ‘why’.

As we all know, purpose is a great alarm clock!



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