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Downe House is an outstanding school, with a proven strategy, based on our Founder’s belief that the educational needs of young women are best met when we value and prize individuals and engender a strong sense of self-belief and community. We work hard to ensure that each girl at Downe is given every possible opportunity, whether academic, Co-Curricular or pastoral, to allow her to grow and develop, and make the most of her personal strengths. There is no ‘typical’ Downe House girl. Our aim is to ensure that each of our students is aware of her own abilities, enthused about learning, conscious of herself as a citizen of the world and confident that she is well prepared to face the challenges of life after Downe House.
Our network of 12 partner schools across five continents is a hugely exciting initiative. It allows girls in the Fifth Form to have an immersive experience in South Africa, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, India, Germany or Spain, living as boarders or with a host family. This global schools exchange programme also brings girls from partner schools to spend time at Downe House, enriching the community and encouraging a global outlook of openness, flexibility and sensitivity.
A comprehensive higher education programme begins in Remove (Year 7) and builds progressively throughout the School, with a four-year programme supporting the girls from Lower Fifth to Upper Sixth. Girls benefit from one-to-one guidance, workshops on UCAS applications and personal statements, talks on university, support with internships and work experience, plus talks from external speakers on a wide variety of careers. There is also a specialist team to support those applying to Oxbridge, Medicine courses, overseas universities or creative courses in Art, Drama or Music.
We also embrace our responsibility for our students’ success after they leave us and we have built a strong community that includes pupils, parents, past parents, alumnae, current and past staff to this end. It is our strong belief that if we all work together with one common purpose of supporting our pupils, past and present, to reach their potential, we are far more likely to achieve real success in all spheres. Our Alumnae are incredible and they take pleasure in sharing their experience and knowledge with other Downe House girls. We also focus our attentions on supporting our students’ parents during their time at the School, providing practical parenting support and opportunities to network with each other.
A boarding education provides us with two precious commodities, time and space. Our 10 Year Vision for the School ensures that the space we provide for our students to live and learn in are up to date and comfortable. The additional time, coupled with excellent teaching and pastoral care, ensure that we are able to offer a broad curriculum, an outstanding range of activities and first-class individual care. Our girls leave us with the confidence and self-knowledge they need to take up places at top universities in the UK and overseas and then to move on to embark successfully on the widest range of careers.
Gifted & Talented
Although we do not use the title ‘Gifted and Talented’ at Downe House, the provision made for our Award Holders and Outstandingly Able students is extensive. As part of our aim to recognise and value each girl as an individual and to enable her to achieve her personal best, we identify girls who have abilities, skills and or talents which, judged by a portfolio of indices, are perceived to be outstanding.
The School has a Coordinator for the Outstandingly Able who oversees this and offers these girls opportunities which suit their individual profiles and will guide and encourage them to stretch above and beyond the curriculum. There are also social events offered to these girls and where possible they are invited to bring a friend along. The Coordinator’s door is always open to girls who feel that they would benefit from mentoring, or who just wish to have a member of the teaching staff share a triumph, a disappointment, a personal story or an aspiration.
The Learning Skills (LS) Department is an integral part of Downe House. Students with identified needs are documented on the LS database to which all pastoral and subject staff refer, ensuring strong collaborative working relationships with LS teachers so that the needs of the individual student are met. The department aims to encourage every LS girl to grow in confidence by recognising her unique strengths and to assist her in identifying useful strategies which she can transfer into her own learning; thus students are enabled to flourish in the classroom and beyond. As early identification is key, parents are requested to disclose the nature of any specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) in advance of an application. The department can support pupils with a range of SpLDs, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, mild speech and language and semantic pragmatic language disorders, low level attention deficit (hyperactive) disorder, as well as those in need of skills development. The LS team consists of five well qualified and experienced specialist teachers of SpLDs and it is well resourced with a variety of games, computer programmes and texts to encourage overlearning.
A student with ‘ongoing’ support will be taught an individual lesson tailored to her specific needs, once or twice a week; this will be timetabled during the school day, since, except in exceptional circumstances, it is departmental policy not to remove pupils from lessons. All pupils are taught in a multi-sensory, structured and cumulative way and, if appropriate, assistive technology and appropriate adjustments for examinations may be arranged. All programmes have an agreed set of termly targets which are reviewed regularly often as part of an individual educational plan. Some on the database who are not deemed to need regular one-to-one support can have ‘open door’ access to a LS teacher, on a less regular basis; others on the database need little contact with the department, but the fact that their SpLD is noted on the database means that their progress is regularly monitored by the department and subject staff. Furthermore, the Head of LS is an assessor of students with SpLDs and has strong collaborative links with external SEN professionals, such as educational psychologists. All the LS teachers aim to respond flexibly and in co-operation with the wishes of the pupils and their parents.
Bursaries & Scholarships
In 2016-2017 23 girls benefitted from full and partial means-tested bursaries. Financial help towards the payment of fees in cases of proven need is available at all points of entry to Downe House. This assistance is available in the form of bursaries which vary in size according to circumstances; some may be as high as 100% plus an allowance towards School extras. Bursaries are means tested and awarded to pupils who are likely to gain most from a Downe House education and who will contribute fully to the life of the School. The pupils in question must satisfy the academic entry requirements and continue to work to capacity as they progress throughout the School. Parents who feel that they may need the support of a bursary are encouraged to discuss the matter with the School well in advance of the due date of entry.
In accordance with the general guidance on Public Benefit from the Charity Commission, the School continues to develop its overall contribution in addition to the plans for increasing the number of means-tested Bursaries. In 2016-2017, an average of 557 boarders and 20 day-girls were educated at no cost to the state, and the School has continued to achieve high standards in all areas, focusing on its aim of providing each individual girl with an excellent all-round education thus enabling her to achieve her potential.
Please view our website or the Bursary Policy PDF for further information about Bursaries at Downe House.
Each year we award scholarships to girls from a variety of backgrounds and with a strong academic, musical, artistic, sporting or dramatic potential who we feel would benefit from the overall education offered by Downe House.
The value of our Scholarships:
Being a Scholar is a position of honour and privilege at Downe. Whilst it does not carry any remission in fees, it does allow your daughter to play a key role in the life of the School and opens a world of opportunities from which she can expand her learning and explore her own gifts.
Please view our website for further information about scholarships at Downe House.