During the virtual ceremony, the judges said their decision to present this award to Hurst College was due to its focus on recognising the physical and mental value of sport and sharing the benefits with the wider community, including the children of key workers during lockdown.
The college was also named a finalist in two other categories – Student Careers Programme and Co-educational School of the Year.
Rob Kift, the college’s Director of Sport said: “We are delighted that the college has been recognised in this way. Our philosophy has always been the importance of ‘sport for all’, which not only includes our own students and staff, but also members of our local community.”
Hurst has not only established an enviable reputation for the quality, breadth and inclusivity of its sporting provision, but also for the passion and commitment of its talented hard-working team to ensure each pupil develops a lifelong love of sport and physical activity.
As part of a caring community, equal attention is given to those who simply want to participate as well as the elite performers. With extensive on-site facilities, the ambition is to create an activity diet that engages pupils in an enjoyable, challenging and meaningful way, through traditional team sports, individual sports and outdoor pursuits.
Central to the programme is pupils’ physical and mental wellbeing, demonstrated by the unique player welfare programme, with qualified physiotherapists who triage, monitor injuries and support rehabilitation, in conjunction with strength and conditioning coaches.
Seen as leaders in the community and an example of excellence, others look to Hurst’s innovative, outward-looking approach, developed not only with the best interests of their own students at heart, but for the good of sport in the wider area. The creation of the Sussex Independent School Diamond League Athletics Programme is the latest of many initiatives which have proved popular.
The college has forged strong links with maintained schools by hosting development days, as well as being a hub for Surrey Storm Netball South and Sussex County Cricket academies, a feeder for the Harlequins Rugby Development Programme and the base for Sussex Hockey. Hurst also organises and plays host to regional and national competitions and events in a variety of sports.
One hundred teams across all ages and levels of sporting ability compete throughout the year – the result of a carefully crafted development programme which has delivered sustained success at regional and national competitions, and which has also taught pupils important life skills along the way.
With the unprecedented circumstances surrounding Covid-19, Hurst’s Sports Department responded to the unique challenge of remote learning by implementing alternative ways of engagement and successfully delivered a comprehensive programme, including on-site options for children of key workers, which received universal praise from students and parents.
This creative and dynamic approach has continued since pupils returned to the college for the new academic year, with year-group athletics and cross-country events. These have proved extremely popular and a valuable opportunity for students and houses to come together.
Successful collaboration with pupils and parents as well as a constant desire to improve is the driving force behind a high-quality programme of which Hurst College is justifiably proud.