Shifting landscape catalyst for changing structure - Hurstpierpoint College

Shifting landscape catalyst for changing structure

Hurst College has grown and developed significantly over the last 15 years. It has doubled in size, become one of the leading independent schools in the south east academically and strengthened co-curricular engagement. There has also been a shift away from full boarding to weekly and flexi boarding and a move to an equal split between boys and girls.  

Prep School restructure

Over the last three years, Tim Manly and the governors have been considering the best structure for the college and leadership team. This has also been influenced by the shifting landscape in which the school operates and the way in which education has developed nationally. As a result, the decision was taken a year ago for the college structure to be reshaped. Instead of the traditional model of Pre-Prep (Reception to Year 2), Prep School (Year 3 to Year 8) and Senior School (Year 9 to Upper Sixth), it was felt that a changing structure was required to reflect the shift towards an 11 to 16 educational curriculum and the way in which children grow up faster now than in the past. 

Hurst has introduced a Junior Prep structure (Reception to Year 6) which echoes that of the maintained sector, with a separate Senior Prep (Year 7 and Year 8) that focuses on these interesting developmental years. The college recognises that 11-year-olds are too young to go to a large secondary school and that much can be gained by having Year 7 and 8 pupils at the top of their prep school. By the time they leave, they are prepared for a senior school environment. As a result, there are separate heads for the Junior Prep (Nick Oakden) and Senior Prep (Ian Pattison), along with dedicated teams of staff in both sections. 

 Multi Academy Trust

The school has also been developing a local Multi Academy Trust. A pioneering initiative, known as the Hurst Education Trust (HET), which will ultimately include a small number of local primary schools and a secondary school. It has long been felt that schools such as Hurst are in danger of becoming too inward looking, and somewhat removed from the world around them. The initiative has been driven by a desire not only to do the right thing but also to integrate Hurst with a local group of schools – to benefit pupils and staff in the college and the schools within the HET. It is early days but there are already three primary schools in the Hurst Education Trust and it is expected that this will grow in a considered manner. 

New leadership structure

Given these changes, a changing leadership structure has also evolved. Tim Manly has become Principal of the college with a clear line of responsibility for its strategic direction, culture, staffing, finances and operations. In addition, he has become CEO of the Hurst Education Trust with responsibility for leading the initiative, supported by a small team from within the college.  

Dominic Mott, previously Head of the Senior School, has now stepped up to become Head of College and taken on many of Tim’s previous day-to-day responsibilities with pupils, parents and staff. His profile will be much greater both internally and externally with a clear remit for the successful operation of the college across all year groups and all aspects. He is succeeded as Head of the Senior School by Lloyd Dannatt who was Deputy Head Academic. Lloyd has been key in developing the remarkably successful linearisation of academic programmes across the entire college, raising standards of teaching and learning as well as driving the broader academic culture. His role has been taken on by Michelle Zeidler who also acts as the Director of Education for the Hurst Education Trust. 

Carefully planned transition 

These changing structures will enable the college to cater very clearly for the needs and ambitions of each school section – with a shared and coherent set of values and ethos. The college will continue to focus on the recruitment and development of outstanding staff, particularly through the school’s innovative Teach Hurst programme. This programme has been running for many years and has helped build an outstanding staff which is not only high quality but also culturally aligned and committed to college values. 

Although many changes have been introduced, and came fully into play in September, the transition to this new world has been carefully planned. The ethos of the college will remain the same, even though it may need to adapt and change in the face of challenges – Covid, economic or otherwise. Whilst continuing to develop strongly it will stay close to its vision and values which enables pupils to achieve the best they can according to their ability – both at the college and in the broader Hurst Education Trust. 

The changing structure and new leadership team, as well as the Hurst Education Trust, will provide added impetus to the college’s quest for excellence and development, which will stand Hurst in good stead for the future. 

An exciting new chapter is beginning, one which is not so dislocated from the recent past but rather an evolution of it Tim Manly, Principal

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