It was twenty years ago when girls were first welcomed to Hurst College Senior School, an all-boys institution for 150 years. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Ian Trevett spoke to the Headmaster, Tim Manly, and Registrar, Debs Treyer-Evans, who was originally appointed to oversee the transition to a fully co-ed school.
It is hard to imagine Hurstperpoint College as anything other than a co-educational school, but it wasn’t too long ago when girls at Hurst would have been unthinkable. You don’t have to travel too far back in the past to the days when independent schools were often stuffy institutions, stifled by tradition and stuck in the past. Happily, times have changed.
The current Hurst Headmaster, Tim Manly, is refreshingly honest about the historic difficulties faced by schools such as Hurst: “The school was a bit behind with the times. Judging by my experience of being at a similar school in the 1970s, I think many had lost their way. I don’t think they had a sense of their real purpose in life. The certainties of the Imperial, almost Victorian, era had been shaken by the 1960s in particular, and then the nihilistic 1970s. Schools didn’t quite know what they were there for. It was only during the 1980s and 1990s, that schools came to terms with their identity.”
“Until then schools were still preparing boys (and they were all boys) for a world that was very hierarchical and paternalistic and the scope for creativity when they were young just wasn’t there. That was one of the great things about the ’80s. It was suddenly very liberating. In the 1970s you always had this sense that the country, businesses and political parties were run by middle-aged blokes from a certain background. It was all a bit dreary.”