A culture of helping others is part of the fabric of the school and every girl is encouraged to get involved.


We aim to create opportunities for all our girls which enable them to develop confidence and independence, combined with a sense of responsibility and respect for themselves, their peers and the world around them. 

The Wakefield Award

Resilience, Collaboration, Creativity and Compassion. These are the key qualities of girls in the Lower School, and cornerstones of the Wakefield Award, our very own young leadership scheme designed for girls aged 11-14. Designed to foster a sense of adventure and to build greater self-esteem and confidence as well as to develop leadership, planning and team-building skills, the Wakefield award is a precursor to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. 

As the girls move through the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, they undertake increasingly challenging activities including watersports, team sports, dance, drama, music, climbing, hiking, bush craft, camping, crafts and cooking as well as an outdoor adventure residential weekend and an overnight camping expedition. 

The Wakefield Award is excellent preparation for the national Duke of Edinburgh Award at Bronze and Gold levels, which is very popular with girls in the Upper School and Sixth Form and is well respected by universities and employers alike. 

Click here to discover more about the Wakefield Award.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

To further develop their leadership, planning and team-building skills, and to gain a true sense of service and independence, the majority of Downe House girls complete a Duke of Edinburgh Award at either the Bronze or Gold level. 

We believe that the DofE Award programme provides an excellent character building framework – one that includes taking part in a physical activity, learning a skill, volunteering for the community and completing a self-sufficient expedition. A team of experienced staff work with the girls during the process, including specialist DofE leaders outside school.

The volunteering aspect of the award provides a wonderful opportunity to give something back locally or globally. Downe House girls are offered the opportunity to volunteer at a range of charitable organisations. Examples include entertaining the elderly, assisting with disabled riding, volunteering their time at local nurseries and primary schools as well as helping pupils with special needs. Some girls have taken part in environmental projects whilst others have learnt to become future Lifesavers or First Aiders. 

A gift of service

There are many opportunities for regular community volunteering, whether it be in a local school, a retirement home or for local charities such as the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and Riding for the Disabled. Girls support their House Charities and International Link Charities through raising money and volunteering in a wonderful variety of events and initiatives. Every other year, girls have the opportunity to visit their international link charity to see the work of the charity for themselves and to help in a practical way. 

International Links

Our Boarding Houses have long-established links with charities around the world and organise ambitious fundraising initiatives throughout the year which involve all the girls in the House. The links have also created an exciting global opportunity as small groups of girls and teachers make regular visits to the charities in person to deliver equipment, provide support and witness first-hand the difference they can make to disadvantaged children in the world beyond Downe.

Learn more about the work of the charities each of our Houses support.

AGN supports Sparkes Homes in Sri Lanka.

AGS supports Hope Asia and the Hosanna Children’s Home in Myanmar.

Holcombe supports Open Arms Malawi.

Tedworth supports Stepping Stones School in Malawi.

Aisholt supports Reality Gives.

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