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Downe House

Boarding 11-18yrs
Type: Senior
Pupil Numbers: 568
Entrance Procedure: Parents can register their daughter at any time from Year 6 onwards but no later than June in the year prior to entry. Girls are then invited to an Assessment Day in September/October in the year prior to entry at which each girl has a personal interview with the Headmistress and girls are invited to sit scholarship exams as appropriate. An early opportunity to secure an offer for our 13+ entry point is offered from Year 6 (two years in advance) Entry is also possible in Year 7 (one year earlier) and our standard 13+ route remains at Year 8. Places will still be offered subject to Common Entrance or an equivalent assessment in Year 8 – but parents, pupils and prep schools can get early offers for places and added security at a much earlier stage. The assessment procedure remains the same at whatever entry point.
Fees per term: £14,030 (2021-2022)

Head's Up

‘I believe that as a school, we have a responsibility to provide our pupils with as many opportunities as possible – academic, co-curricular and pastoral to allow every girl to grow and develop, and to discover and build on her individual strengths. A full boarding education provides us with two precious commodities, time and space. These, 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. It is our aim that girls should be fully prepared for life beyond Downe House and leave us with the confidence to take up places at top universities in the UK and overseas and then move on to embark successfully on the widest range of careers across the globe. Downe House is a very special place and I hope that I, the staff and girls, will have the opportunity to meet you and show you everything that is achieved by the girls on our beautiful site.’

Emma McKendrick

SNTV interview with Emma McKendrick

The inside track from a current parent

We chose Downe House – or it chose us – because it was one of the very few schools offering the 12+ entry year that we needed. We visited the school and liked the look and feel, which was then reinforced by staff we met and in particular by the ethos and values of the headmistress. Our daughter loved the new boarding houses for her age group and the prospect of a term in France, and it was she told us she was going to Downe, not the other way round! Her years at the school, the wide variety of like minded girls, the encouragement of teachers, the freedom to be herself, the responsibilities she has earned and been given, and the Downe ethos of young women becoming the best they can be, have we believe set her up well for university and adulthood. Downe has done us proud.

As parents we love...

The ethos and values of the school, epitomised in the headmistress and her inspirational addresses to the girls and parents. The regular contact with parents through teacher meetings, and events at school and in London. The personal contact with house staff when needed. A friendly atmosphere whenever one visits, and a sense that the girls enjoy themselves and love their friends. The size of the school, not too big and the better for it, keeping that family feel. And that our daughter has loved being there.

As pupils we love...

The warm atmosphere; the friends they’ve made – some for life; the choice to pick their room mates; the inspirational, caring and approachable headmistress who knows every child; the teachers who encourage them and want them to succeed; the gentle but effective pressure to be the best they can be; the opportunity to take responsibility and lead others; the range of things they can do in non-academic time; the comfort that the school accepts parent feedback if things go wrong; and the confidence that they’re leaving school with great friends, a great education and a school that’s set them up for the future.

What makes us different

The answer is in the Downe House DNA:

  • Collaboration
  • Resilience
  • Creativity
  • Aspiration
  • Compassion
  • Communication
  • Outward looking
  • Digital Ready

In the classroom, on the pitch, on stage and everywhere in between, these values are the hope, aim and aspiration for every pupil in the school. Upon stepping through the school gates, every pupil is treated and celebrated as an individual. Whether she is an artist with an aptitude for mathematics, a scientist with a love of music, or an athlete with an interest in politics, Downe House will introduce, nurture and encourage every student’s passion.
The dynasty of Down House women who preceded, and the sheer variety of the career paths and achievements of our alumnae is testimony to our ethos. They all carry with them the imprint of the Downe House DNA.

Established in 1907, Downe House is a traditional boarding and day school with a modern approach for girls aged 11-18. Situated in a beautiful Berkshire 110-acre woodland estate, Downe House offers family-friendly boarding balanced with an exceptional range of opportunities. Downe House has been a Microsoft Showcase School since 2018.

Downe House honours an exceptional programme to nurture global citizens and expands the pupils’ cultural horizons. Every pupil in the Lower Fourth (Year 8) spends a term at our school in France, the Downe House Sauveterre, a beautiful chateau that allows the students to experience French life, language and culture. Older pupils have the opportunity to take part in the Global Schools’ Exchange Programme, studying abroad in one of 15 partner schools across 6 continents. There is also a Global Internship Programme as well as DH LINKS, the School’s comprehensive networking and careers initiative, along with our World Ready Programme, which is layered into every aspect of School life, tailored for every stage of development as pupils progress up through the year groups, to prepare them for the wider world.

Although personal triumphs and individual achievements are the most celebrated within School, the foundation of academic success is evident from the GCSE and A Level statistics. In 2021, at I/GCSE 89% of grades were 9-7 and remarkably 71% achieved grades 9-8 (A*-A**). Most pleasing of all was the number of grade 9s across all the subjects, which once again stands at 46%. At A Level 98% of pupils achieved A* to B grades with the A*/D1/D2 percentage remaining consistently high, at 51%. These outstanding results ranked Downe House as the fourth best Girls Boarding School in the UK, and achieved places at some of the world’s top universities for our graduates.



Families are welcome to visit Downe House by appointment or by attending an Open Morning. Either way we aim to offer a bespoke visit tailored to your daughter's interests with opportunities to meet key members of staff, talk to current pupils and of course, have a good look around the campus. Register for an Open Morning on our website https://www.downehouse.net/open-mornings/
Cold Ash, Thatcham, Berkshire, RG18 9JJ

Useful Dates

Term Dates:

Lent Term 2022: 9 January-25 March
Summer Term 2022: 20 April-1 July
Michaelmas Term 2022: 6 September-15 December

Open Days:

Parents can register for an Open Morning via the Downe House website – https://www.downehouse.net/open-mornings/
Upcoming dates for 2022 include 23 April, 11 June, 10 September and 12 November

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