Hurst College discusses its extensive intellectual programme to help students go above and beyond the syllabus and build knowledge for future success

Offering an extensive intellectual programme is key to the development of students as rounded and accomplished individuals. At Hurst College, students of all ages can access a wide range of activities, including talks with visiting speakers, trips to broaden their subject knowledge, clubs to encourage their interests and – higher up the school – tailored support with their chosen university course.

Last year, the school launched Model United Nations (MUN) – a simulation of the real United Nations organisation. Students participate in fortnightly sessions and take on the representation of a country as they work with one another to debate the diplomatic issues of the day. In preparation for their first conference, in which they won five awards, Hurst’s MUN team visited several international embassies to meet with their diplomatic teams.

CREST and STEM activity continues to thrive, as a record number of students achieved CREST Awards – 18 at gold level and two at silver. These awards followed eight months and a minimum of 70 hours’ work on a diverse range of science and engineering projects – including the first Biology-based project, on cryogenics.

“All this activity not only broadens minds, but also helps with onward study options – especially where going beyond good grades is required to obtain an offer”

The Hurst Engineering Scheme was launched last year with sponsorship secured for a record three teams. Balfour Beatty sponsored two teams, Southern Water one team, and mentoring engineers met students at the college and virtually. The winning team’s project was to improve connectivity between Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill through the design of a ‘green’ cycle network using e-bikes, supported by a community hub and an app.

Hurst has a long and successful track record with Young Enterprise (YE), winning awards at county and regional level. Each year the teams create new products, design bespoke websites and build comprehensive brands, which always produce a profit. Last year, the Plants with Purpose YE team also made the final of the JA (Junior Achievement) competition, the European version of YE, as one of only five UK teams selected to take part in the competition.

Hurst College on the importance of expanding minds
CV and mind expanding – Hurst’s Young Enterprise Plants With Purpose team reached the final of the Junior Achievement competition last year

All this activity not only broadens minds, but also helps with onward study options. Lower Sixth students can attend regular small group sessions with a member of the Hurst teaching staff to prepare them for completing a competitive application to a highly selective university, where going beyond good A-level/BTEC grades is required to obtain an offer. Students are matched with the appropriate subject specialist, and sessions help them with the process by recommending, monitoring and discussing extra reading and guiding on ways to encounter more challenging content beyond the curriculum. Subject specialists also support preparation required for essay and other academic competitions, as well as talks, lectures and seminars for students to deliver to their peers.

In addition, students who are considering Oxbridge, STEM degrees, Medicine, Veterinary Science or Dentistry are given further support through tailored workshops and interview practice specific to their applications. Admission tutors from these areas visit Hurst to give candidates an insight into what is required, and Hurst organises visits to Oxford and Cambridge to meet former students who are already studying there.

Support and encouragement to participate in intellectual activities beyond the curriculum is worthwhile in itself because it enables students to challenge themselves and broaden their knowledge and interests. It also helps them access a far greater range of opportunities for their futures.

Hurst College

Further reading: Eastbourne College on entrepreneurship in action