Three key things that make an independent sixth form stand out 

Hurst College, school photography, prospectus, 2021

Hurst College is proud of its dynamic co-educational sixth form where students are encouraged to become ‘independent, confident and well-grounded individuals’ - Credit: James Pike

The last two years of school are an important landmark in any young person’s life. For many, A-levels are a stepping stone to further study at university, whereas for others, sixth form is a chance to develop the vital skills needed to succeed in the wider world.  

Located on a 140-acre campus in the Sussex countryside, Hurst College prides itself on its dynamic co-educational sixth form where students from the lower school and new joiners are encouraged to become ‘independent, confident and well-grounded individuals’. But what’s the key to becoming a successful school-leaver?  

Ahead of their open day on October 9, we speak to the school’s head of admissions and marketing Dianne Allison, who shares three key things that make a sixth form stand out.  

1) Specialist sixth form staff 

Hurst College, school photography, prospectus, 2021

Hurst College has specialist sixth from tutors, higher education specialists and a career department to help students reach their goals - Credit: James Pike

Teachers and tutors can make all the difference when it comes to encouraging students to get the most out of their education and prepare for life beyond school. This means not only being specialists in their subjects but supporting the unique needs of teenagers as they transition into adulthood.  

“An innovation unique to Hurst sixth form is our specialist form tutors who are trained as life coaches to help students decide what they want to do after school and make sure they are focusing on the right things,” says Dianne. “Our strong tutorial system with small class sizes and formal study time helps students achieve success in their A-level exams, while also encouraging them to take ownership of their learning.” 

Hurst sixth form also has higher education advisors who can help students with applications for leading universities, as well as a dedicated careers department for those interested in apprenticeships. “We understand that there’s not just one path that suits everyone, which is why we have a variety of specialist staff who pay attention to students’ individual needs and goals,” says Dianne.  

2) A wealth of co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities  

Hurst College campus in the Sussex countryside

Located on a 140-acre campus in Sussex, Hurst College offers a wealth of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for its students - Credit: Hurst College

“A sign of a good sixth form is one that not only focuses on exam results but allows students to explore other areas of education and pursue passions outside of the curriculum too,” says Dianne.

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In addition to varied A-level options, Hurst College offers sixth formers the chance to take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), which involves independent learning on a subject of their choice. Outside of studying, there is the opportunity for students to arrange school functions, attend clubs and societies, build connections with the local community and organise charity events. 

“It's also important to consider co-curricular and extra-curricular programmes, which should be given equal focus to academic achievement,” says Dianne. “Our ethos is to provide an all-round education with a strong academic core to help students enjoy a happy and fulfilled life after Hurst. Actually, the most important life skills are often learnt during co-curricular activities, whether it’s through sports, performing arts or community activism.” 

3) A supportive and caring school community 

Sixth formers outside St John's house at Hurst College in Sussex

The specialist upper sixth hall of residence, St John's, offers students strong pastoral care and a close-knit community - Credit: Hurst College

A school community where students feel supported, safe and valued with a strong pastoral framework can help them to thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Dianne explains that as Hurst College students begin their second year in sixth form, the close-knit house system supports their A-level progression while building their confidence, independence and social skills. “We have excellent pastoral teams, particularly in the specialist upper sixth co-education hall of residence, St John’s, where house masters and matrons are available 24-hours a day to offer support and keep an eye on students’ wellbeing,” she says.  

“Students are encouraged to form connections with each other, as both guardians and role models, and many of our sixth formers choose to board with us because they want to experience the community feeling. The house system is great for preparing for university life and transforming students into successful school-leavers.” 

Hurst College is accepting applications for students who wish to join their sixth form in September 2022. The sixth form is holding an open day on October 9 where you can find out more about life on the college campus.

Visit or call 01273 833636 to find out more. 

Hurstpierpoint College, College Lane, Hurstpierpoint, Hassocks, West Sussex, BN6 9JS.