Basic Information & Location
Downside School is a co-educational Catholic independent school set in a 500-acre estate in Somerset, south west England. It offers a scheduled coach service to London (Richmond), Heathrow Airport and Bath Spa railway station for the end of term breaks and exeat weekends. It is one of the three leading Catholic schools with a long history. The school was founded in France in 1606. The school community returned to England from 1795 to 1814 and has been on its present site since 1814. Girls were admitted in 2004 and approximately 60% of the pupils are boys and 40% are girls now. Downside School offers one-year GCSE which is suitable for Form 4 Hong Kong students to finish GCSE curriculum in an year.
The school has been established more than 400 years and it sets the model for traditional boarding school. It emphasizes on students’ discipline. There are priests at school which is rare nowadays. The principal and assistant principal have invested a lot on sports. Yet, the students are able to maintain satisfactory academic result.
Downside School’s vision – as a leading Catholic School – is to be a bright light in the world of education, illumining the lives of young people and inspiring service in the world. In 2017, 61% of A-Level results have been graded A*-B and nearly 80% of GCSE grades are A*-B. Most of their sixth form pupils go on to study at the best universities in the country. 87% of pupils were able to accept their first and second choice university offers including Oxbridge in 2017. Students will be given support and guidance to consider their future career. Careers Coordinator will help in selecting the most suitable steps for students, from choosing their GCSE courses, to looking for a Work Experience placement. Students will be introduced to the alumni network and it can be very useful to them.
Pastoral Care & Boarding
Downside School has six boarding houses: Powell, Isabella, Caverel, Barlow, Roberts and Smythe. The House Master or Mistress has overall responsibility for their House, helped by an Assistant, a team of Tutors, a House Mother and the Chaplaincy Team. Pupils have access to a member of the House staff at all times. The Health Centre team are also available 24-hour a day. Each House has its own spirit, character and traditions and pupils have friends across the houses. Everyone gets involved in competing in the Inter-House competitions ranging from music and drama to games and other activities.
Extracurricular & personal development
All boys and girls are expected to participate in co-curricular activities. There are extended time slots for activities, clubs and societies, drama, music and sport on every weekday afternoon and a huge range of activities also take place outside the formal co-curricular times. There are more than seventy different clubs and societies at Downside School. The music department is famous in the area and will perform regularly each year. They have the oldest Catholic school choir in the UK, as well as Acapella and orchestras.
Downside School believes that physical activity plays an important role in students’ development and it encourages the students to engage in sports. They are strong in rugby. The rugby team ranked 11 in the league. The competition between Downside School and Sherborne School is a major event in the area. The school is also good at football. Their school team ranked 26 in 2015-16 in UK and won 75% matches. It has some 100 acres of playing fields on the campus, providing cricket, rugby, football and rounders pitches, and a running track, as well as an all-weather hockey pitch and twelve newly-refurbished tennis and netball courts. There is a fully modernised swimming pool and sports hall complex as well.