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Downside School

What says..

With 500 acres of grounds to run around in, fresh air and exercise are an integral part of Downside life. House staff are adept at helping children to settle in. ‘No one gets lost here,’ we were told. A housemother reckons that Ovaltine, warm wheat bags (the modern answer to hot water bottles) and talking helps to stave off homesickness. Pupils are kept occupied at weekends with lots of trips and inter-house competitions. A strong sense of spirituality pervades the school. Around 80 per cent of pupils are Catholic but…

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What the school says...

Founded in 1606 Downside is one of Englands oldest and most distinguished Catholic schools. Outstanding examination results are the priority. Everyone is encouraged to aspire beyond their academic expectations and the School has a thriving academic life with all pupils going on to the top universities in the UK, the USA and Europe.

85% of Downside pupils are 7-day-a-week boarders and 15% of its pupils are from overseas. Weekends for boarders are busy with a full programme of activities. The School provides outstanding pastoral support for all pupils and has long been known for its strong sense of community. Downside offers an exceptionally wide choice of co-curricular activities to its pupils. All boys and girls are expected to participate; 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. The School is particularly renowned for the quality of its drama, and music and facilities are excellent.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2018, Andrew Hobbs, previously acting head. Read classics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he also gained a rugby blue. Taught classics at Hurstpierpoint; head of classics and then housemaster at Canford; joined Downside as deputy head in 2008.


Pupils must be able to cope with the school’s ‘traditional academic curriculum.’ At 11+ and 12+ entrance is via the Downside Junior Assessment Test (English and maths), plus reports and references from pupil’s current school. At 13+ most applicants take CE (required mark of 50 per cent but the average is 65 per cent). At 16+ pupils sit tests in subjects they are planning to take at A level. B/6 grades at GCSE required (A/7s for maths and the sciences if they are planning to study these at A level).

Quite exceptionally...

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Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

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Special Education Needs

Downside has long experience of supporting pupils with mild Special Needs, especially dyselxia and dyspraxia. Pupils must be able to cope with with a mainstream academic curriculum, within which they can receive additional one-to-one support.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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