Basic Information & Location
Downe House School is an independent girls’ day and boarding school in Cold Ash, set on a 110-acre estate in Berkshire. The M4 motorway is two miles away providing easy access to Heathrow (45 miles), central London (60 miles), and other parts of the country. The school was founded in 1907 with just three pupils. It grew quite quickly later on and moved to its present site in 1922. Over 100 years after its foundation, there are 580 students in the school now. It is a famous school in England for its outstanding academic performance. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is alumni of this school.
Whoever you are…
Whoever you want to be…
Be a Downe House girl.
Cultivating a love of learning
Downe House is committed to ensuring that every young woman at Downe House leaves with a lifelong intellectual curiosity, a self-belief that she is able to embrace the challenges of further education and the world of work, and the knowledge that she is part of a passionate and dynamic school community.
The school is immensely proud of the results and university destinations which its girls continue to achieve. However this is only one element of a Downe House education.
Downe House gives every girl the time and space to discover and pursue her talents by offering an impressively broad curriculum and outstanding specialist teaching. The school’s state-of-the-art facilities and passion for 21st century learning enable a new kind of creativity and collaboration in the classroom and beyond.
Every girl has her own Academic Tutor
Every girl will meet with her Academic Tutor every week in a one-to-one session to oversee her learning, discuss her academic progress and encourage her to pursue her intellectual interests.
Girls are allocated a new Academic Tutor as they progress through each of the three stages of school life from Lower School to Upper School and then into the Sixth Form.
In 2019, 91% of the school’s leavers took up places at top universities in the UK with 76% awarded places at Russell Group institutions. Over 17% went on to read STEM subjects with English, Economics, Politics, International Relations, Modern Languages and Art and Design also being very well represented. Just under 6% of girls chose to go to overseas universities including McGill in Cada, Wesleyan University in Connecticut and Parsons School of Design in New York.
In 2020, 22 girls from Downe House applied through the Oxbridge application process, half of whom were shortlisted and interviewed, which is a huge achievement in what has become a very competitive are. Five offers from Cambridge and a further three from Oxford include places to study English, Maths, Biology, History, AMES and History of Art.
Pastoral Care & Boarding
Downe House is the perfect combination of its family-friendly boarding model and the outstanding staff and alume community who enable the school to provide an almost limitless array of opportunities – academic, co-curricular and pastoral – to allow every girl to grow and develop, and to discover and build on her individual strengths.
The school’s boarding structure is specifically designed to support its girls at the different stages of their development into adults. In the Lower School (years 7 and 8) girls enjoy the security and care of their own mini site as well as the fabulous term in year 8 at its very own school in Veyrines, France. This school is not a partnership but a true extension of Downe House. Girls are immersed in French culture and gain invaluable life lessons during this time. All lessons are taught in French with the exception of Maths and English.
The Upper School is made up of five houses, girls joining at 13+ are mixed together with those progressing through from the Lower School creating an equal playing field for all. Girls in the Upper School also benefit from the school’s unique global exchange programme as well as increased responsibility and independence.
The Sixth Form brings the whole year group back together in their dedicated house for the next two years really preparing the girls for a life beyond Downe House.
This boarding structure gives the school the ability to tailor its provision to girls at the different stages of their journey with the school, all of it underpinned by its exceptional pastoral care.
Ebling its young women to develop a real sense of self-worth and self-confidence is extremely important to the school. It wants them to have a strong set of values, to be ambitious but to combine their ambition with compassion so that they can make a positive contribution to the world around them. The school believes that this is best achieved through strong pastoral care and by the School and parents working closely together.
Recent initiatives the school has introduced to support its pastoral programme include:
· A pastoral assessment and tracking tool created by Steer called AS Tracking. AS (Affective Social) Tracking is a proactive pastoral care system which uses online assessment, completed by pupils.
· The Finding Balance Programme developed by the school’s Boarding Deputy gives the girls the tools for life to care for themselves as well as each other.
· An exciting and diverse range of speakers through the year to support the school’s wellbeing programme – this year, this has included internet safety expert, Karl Hopwood, writer and body image campaigner, tasha Devon and the Digital Sisters to talk to the girls about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
· The school’s new programme called Girls on Board which seeks to empower the girls themselves to take responsibility for maintaining healthy friendships through the difficult middle teenage years. The programme gives them the tools to analyse their own behaviour and that of the other girls in their community.
The main drive that runs through all these initiatives is to give the school’s girls the tools and confidence to take responsibility for themselves and those around them. Although support is always available from house staff, tutors, academic staff and parents Downe House hopes that the girls develop the maturity to make effective change in their own lives through their time with the school.
Extra-curricular & Personal Development
Boarding brings an extended day and weekends which the school can fill with a rich and varied range of opportunities so that each girl can discover her strengths and develop interests in subjects, sports, hobbies and interests that may not previously have been experienced. From the Dance Company and Academy, the Science Society, Young Enterprise, DofE and Basketball Club to a choice of six choirs, orchestras and ensembles, art, crafts and ceramics club, the Caledonian Society, LEITHS and debating, there really is something for everyone!
If it doesn’t exist already, pupils are encouraged to start a club up and the school is are extremely proud of its pupil-led clubs and activities ranging from Film Club, Engineering society, History Society, Knitting Club, Commonwealth Society, Medical Society, the San Remo Society (which perhaps could be nominated as the quirkiest!), the Gay Straight Alliance and Model United Nations! In their boarding houses, girls can get involved with House-organised clubs for reading, current affairs, cookery and much more!