1. The interview serves two purposes. It gives parents an opportunity to see the school and decide whether Hurtwood House is the right place for their child. It also provides us with the opportunity to decide whether they are right for us.
2. All new students are interviewed here at the school, preferably with their parents.
3. The usual interview pattern is for us to talk to the student about themselves, about their work, their interests, their present school, their ambitions for the future and their reasons for wanting to go to a school like ours. We spend a lot of time discussing their choice of subjects and describing the various new subjects which are available here. We then talk about Hurtwood itself and its way of life and do our best to describe all aspects of our community - academic, sporting, cultural, and social. We then answer questions about the college, and finally we take everyone on a tour which usually includes classrooms, laboratories, the Library, the Theatre, playing fields, study bedrooms and common rooms. Whenever possible, we like visitors to meet some of our present students and staff and talk to them about the college.
Interviews usually take between one and one and a half hours. (As we are quite difficult to find, we would ask visitors to allow plenty of time to locate us and to remember to bring the prospectus with them as this has a detailed map and directions in it!)
If, after the interview and after visiting other colleges, parents decide that they would like their son or daughter to be considered for selection at Hurtwood House, they should write to us enclosing the application form and the registration payment. Some unlucky students will be told immediately that they have not been accepted, in which case the registration payment will be returned immediately; a few exceptional students will be offered an immediate place, subject to reference; and the remainder of applicants can, if the parents so wish, be placed into a “pool” of potential students for selection later in the year. (We prefer not to discuss the situation at interview in front of the student, particularly if there is any doubt in our minds about their suitability).
There are about 150 vacancies each year, 75 for boys and 75 for girls, and there is strong competition for places. Selection is based very largely on the impressions we form at interview. In general, we have to feel that the college can provide the student with exactly what they need and that in turn they are going to respond positively and take advantage of everything that we have to offer. Obviously, the academic record is important, and we have high academic standards to maintain, but work is not the only criterion for selection. We are looking for students who are going to make a positive contribution to our community. Character, personality, willingness, cheerfulness, liveliness, helpfulness, maturity, a sense of responsibility and a strong sense of purpose are all qualities that we are looking for.
It is a standard courtesy that a written reference from the student’s previous school is obtained before a definite place can be offered at another school. As well as ensuring that everyone concerned is kept in the picture about potential student moves, from our point of view it also serves to confirm or contradict the impressions that have been gained at the interview stage, and reassures us that there are no “skeletons in the cupboard”. It will usually be requested at the same time as a completed application form is received by us, but it can be delayed until parents have informed the school directly of their intention to move their child. (Parents must notify us in writing at the time of making the application if they would like us to delay writing for the reference).
Places are not dependent on GCSE results, but obviously students cannot proceed to A-levels until they have proved that they have the necessary ability. If they do not do well with their GCSE’s, they do not forfeit their place at Hurtwood House, but they have either to do re-takes or take up new subjects at GCSE level. All GCSE’s, whether re-takes or new subjects, are done on a one-year basis here at Hurtwood.
Finalisation of Subjects
A student’s choice of subjects is always discussed at interview, and can often be finalised then and there and confirmed by letter when the application is made. Sometimes, however, the decision will take much longer and students will want to leave it as long as possible before committing themselves. Most combinations of subjects are available, provided that the final decision is taken before July when our timetable is fixed on computer. After July, subject changes can only be accommodated provided they fit in with what has already been timetabled.