Meet the head: Tim J Manly at Hurstpierpoint College


- Credit: Archant

Tim J Manly, Headmaster of Hurstpierpoint College, tells of helping children become part of something greater than themselves, and the life-enhancing effects of joining a choir

Published in A+ Education Spring 2017

How did you get in to teaching?

Whilst at university, I had always considered teaching however, in 1987 when I graduated, I felt that I was not ready, so I headed up to London. After a few years and a move to Hong Kong on the cards, I realised the time was right. Undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made.


How has your background shaped your headship at Hurst?

Working in London in a very competitive environment both toughened me and developed my work ethic as well as instilling a commercial sense and a greater understanding of people and what drives them.


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What are the benefits of being a boarder at Hurst?

We offer a balanced approach to boarding, trying to strike a healthy balance between school and home. Pupils are able to engage with a rich and textured life within strong communities and are also able to maintain contact with parents and family. This helps our children to develop good life skills, a sense of independence and individuality as well the ability to work in a team, understand what it means to be a fully functioning human being and live not just for oneself but for other people too.


Why is community so important to Hurst culture?

It means that the world is not just about you, because you are part of something greater in supporting and enabling others to be successful; vital qualities for a successful, happy and rewarding life. It is not just about the school, nor is it about perpetuating a wealthy elite, but it is about producing well grounded, decent and independent individuals who will be successful and good people throughout their lives.


How do you encourage pupils to become involved in co-curricular activities?

You need to have a culture which applauds engagement because, when faced with a number of choices, the average 14-year-old will tend to choose that which they have done before, what their friends are doing or what they consider to be cool. It is vital that every child feels they can have a go to the best of their ability, and be appreciated for that, rather than have to be particularly good in order to be able to do it. On that basis I ran a half marathon and sang in a choir - I am pretty poor at both but the experiences have been life enhancing. It is the school’s responsibility to enable children to access opportunities and vehicles for development that provide them with the chance to engage and grow in particular ways.


What are the most important things for schools to teach their pupils to prepare them for the world of work?

The world of work has changed in ways which are both marvellous and daunting, with greater opportunities than ever before. However, the quickening pace of technology can destroy as much as create opportunities. The most important thing we can do is to equip our children with the skills, qualities and values necessary to navigate future change and development. It is not just about qualifications but also the confidence, resilience, persistence, enthusiasm, ability to function with others, to lead and communicate, to solve problems and adapt. They need to have a strong set of values to weather the good times and the bad.


What changes have you implemented so far during your time at Hurst?

We have been through an extraordinary decade, when Hurst doubled in size, became fully co-ed, moved away from full boarding to weekly/flexi boarding and strengthened academically. It has moved on physically, in terms of the campus development, and culturally, and we offer an education which prepares each of our pupils to make the most of their lives and do something for the lives of others. The school now has a strong reputation, a clear sense of purpose and is much in demand.

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