Science

Taught by an experienced and passionate team, Science at Downe House comprises the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Departments.

Head of Department: Miss Christina Pugsley

The Science Department is divided into three subject departments, each with their own Head of Department and dedicated staff. The purpose-built science block at Downe House is in the centre of the School campus and boasts several laboratories and a team of subject-specific technicians.

Lower School curriculum

Our aim in Lower School Science (Remove and Lower Fourth) is to inspire in girls a love of learning and to nurture their natural curiosity for science.

The science courses in Remove and Lower Fourth provide a secure grounding in many different topics in all three sciences and we strive to develop and encourage interest, enthusiasm and enjoyment for science amongst the girls.

The courses involve much practical work to develop investigative and practical skills. We encourage girls to apply their knowledge and skills in both familiar and unfamiliar situations. Wherever possible we identify cross-curricular links so that girls can see where their scientific knowledge can be applied in other areas and subjects, and beyond the curriculum to society and the environment. Girls develop lots of transferable skills during these two years, such as the use of mathematical and graphical techniques for data analysis and the identification of trends and relationships to draw conclusions.

We give girls the opportunity for individual and group work to advance the skills required to collaborate effectively with their peers and teachers, and to encourage debate and discussion, to develop informed opinions and to be able to support them using reasoned arguments.  In addition, we encourage girls to show initiative, perseverance and independence of thought. 

Science Enrichment

The Science Department offers a huge variety of science enrichment opportunities for every year group in the School.

Girls in the Lower School can take part in many trips, events and competitions across the sciences, which they all thoroughly enjoy! Recently we have attended the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry at Reading University, Exploring Engineering at Rutherford Appleton laboratories, We the Curious in Bristol, and were lucky enough welcome Dr Harkup to give the Junior Science Society lecture “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to know”. In the Lent term, a series of science workshops are usually offered on selected Saturday afternoons which are great fun!  

One particular highlight for the Upper School is STEM Day. Organised by the Science Department, STEM Day brings together a programme of workshops and interactive sessions related to science, technology, engineering and maths topics and we invite local schools to participate. Our most recent STEM Day included contributions from Bletchley Park and Bloodhound Land Speed Record.

Another special opportunity in the Sixth Form is the Engineering Education Scheme. The programme links students with local companies to work on real scientific, engineering and technology projects.

Head of Science

Miss Christina Pugsley is Head of Science and Head of Biology.

Miss Pugsley completed a Biological Sciences degree, with First Class Honours, at the University of Warwick and then a PGCE at the University of Exeter. Since then she has taught at Downe House for fourteen years, eight of these as Head of Biology, and two as Head of Science. Passionate about extending the girls’ knowledge and interests beyond the classroom she likes to share information about a range of books, documentaries, and radio programmes with girls. Moreover she really enjoys teaching all year groups at the School!

As Head of Science, Miss Pugsley has increased the number of science-related trips and events across all year groups. In addition to working in the science department, Miss Pugsley has a wide range of other roles within the School community, including being a Lower School tutor and a PGCE and NQT mentor.

When not at School, Miss Pugsley enjoys a wide range of outdoor pursuits, including riding and open water swimming.  She is also a keen vegetable gardener and, when able to, takes the opportunity to attend the Cold Ash Horticultural Society talks, to learn more with the aim of producing enough to be self-sufficient.

Visits & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House, is to come and experience it for yourself – arrange a visit or join us for one of our Open Mornings?

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