Enrichment

A Downe House education goes far beyond the academic curriculum and gives girls the opportunity to learn from a different perspective.

We recognise that enrichment outside of the curriculum develops essential skills for life beyond Downe House. We offer an exciting and expansive range of enrichment opportunities at Downe House to inspire our girls to create, debate and think.

Lectures, workshops and debates

Our lecture programme seeks to expand the girls’ horizons intellectually, spiritually, culturally and emotionally. In a challenging academic environment, we try to create an atmosphere of curiosity, interest and passion. High-calibre teaching is complemented by lectures, workshops, master classes and seminars on a vast range of subjects.

Talks by well-known guest speakers from business, politics and many other facets of life encourage lively debate and provide a fascinating insight into the world we live in.

We have been fortunate to host some really fascinating individuals for our Medley Lectures, including broadcaster, John Simpson, Presidente of the Disney Parks, Western Region and DH Alumna, Catherine Powell, Author, Simon Sebag-Montefiore and Mountaineer, Mollie Hughes.

Phoenix Society

All Sixth Form girls are encouraged to participate in the Phoenix Society, which is a forum for presentation and discussion and sees Downe House regularly team up with partner boys’ schools including Radley and Eton. Subjects include in-depth research the students may be undertaking or simply personal hobbies or passions.

Lectures

Professionals and company representatives regularly visit and talk to girls from the GCSE years through to the Upper Sixth to give insights into the world of work. The interactive talks range from providing a general overview of certain industries and career paths, to sharing personal stories which help to inspire and encourage the girls.

Sixth Form programme

Girls in the Sixth Form benefit from a wealth of lectures and other opportunities which are designed to equip them with insight and skills transferable to the world beyond Downe House. Topics are very broad include; personal and online safety to nutrition, sleep and resilience, risk-taking and personal finances through to cooking skills, revision strategies and mindfulness. Guest speakers have included e-safety expert, Karl Hopwood, freediver and alumna, Helena Bourdillon, financial expert, David Kness, body confidence campaigner, Natasha Devonshire and entrepreneur, Onyi Anyado.  The programme includes wellbeing sessions to introduce the girls to nutrition and mindfulness sessions to develop useful strategies to help them to strike a good balance.

Girls leave Downe House as young women, ready to play their part in the world, ready not only to grasp opportunities for themselves, but to also create them for others.

Self-development and service

One aim of our enrichment opportunities is to enable girls to develop confidence and independence, combined with a sense of responsibility and respect for themselves, their peers and the world around them.

Peer Mentoring Scheme

The Peer Mentoring programme is run by the Sixth Form and gives girls the opportunity to receive specific training to support younger students. Sixth Formers come down to the Lower School boarding Houses to meet up one-on-one with Remove and Lower Fourth students to help them settle into School life and help them with prep.

Community Volunteering

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

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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.

In working towards these awards girls face challenges, commit to helping others and develop new skills and are encouraged to develop traits of leadership – above all it’s fun!  Taking part in this scheme can be positively life-changing and we encourage as many girls as possible to take advantage of this opportunity.

A team of experienced staff work with the girls during the process which includes expeditions of varying lengths and we also have support from specialist Duke of Edinburgh leaders outside school.

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.

The volunteering aspect of the award provides a wonderful opportunity to give something back locally. Downe House girls are offered the opportunity to volunteer at a range of charitable organisations, including charitable events and fundraising. Examples include entertaining the elderly, assisting with disabled riding, helping at charitable organisations, 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.

In addition to helping in the local community, we have also established strong international links, providing girls with additional opportunities for voluntary work in our International Link Charities in Sri Lanka, Malawi, Myanmar, India and South Africa.

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. Find out more about Duke of Edinburgh at Downe House.

Find out more about the Wakefield Award.

Young Enterprise

The Young Enterprise Company Scheme at Downe House is run to help the girls develop business skills they will undoubtedly require in the workplace. This includes enterprise and financial education programmes with the sole aim of helping the girls create and run their own company. The Scheme has been offered to Lower Sixth girls for over ten years at Downe House.

Over the course of one year, students will:

  • raise real finance by selling shares
  • open and use their own company bank account
  • carry out market research
  • work together to create their business plan
  • develop their own product or service
  • market and promote their product or service
  • trade with the public
  • manage the company finances
  • take part in local Young Enterprise trade fairs
  • compete with other schools and colleges in the Company of the Year competition

Each company is assigned an external volunteer advisor from business to support and offer guidance when required.

Trips

At Downe House we offer an exciting range of trips. Some of these are department specific and recent examples include a History and Politics trip to Washington DC, USA, the Geography trip to Iceland and the Tennis tour to Portugal. We also offer other trips as enrichment experiences which can end up being highlights of a girl’s time at Downe House, such as the Lower School trip to China with Ludgrove School.

Department academic enrichment

Each department offers its own exciting and specialist range of enrichment opportunities. As well as trips and external speakers, departments organise themed days for students which can involve the participation of other schools. These have recently included STEM Day by the Science department, Maths Challenge Day and the Modern Foreign Languages Taster Day.

Cultural days

Organised by our Higher Education and Global Initiatives Department, girls participate in International Days at School. Often including involvement from other schools, girls take part in workshops, seminars and practical sessions to explore a country’s culture, history, language and food.

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Elective Programme

The Elective Programme offers Lower Fifth girls the opportunity to go beyond the curriculum and explore new avenues of study with the aim of developing scholarly independence, intellectual flexibility and the ability to discuss complex ideas. This unique-to-Downe programme is comprised of a series of bespoke subject-specific modules designed to help inspire a lifelong passion of “learning for learning’s sake”.

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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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