Culture of Service

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

Self development

Our pupils strive to embody our core Downe House DNA characteristics of compassion, collaboration, resilience, creativity, aspiration, communication, and having an outward looking perspective. 

We aim to create opportunities for all our girls which enable them to develop their confidence and independence, alongside practical and leadership skills. 

Crucial to the self development of our pupils is the culture of respect harboured by the School; teaching girls respect for themselves, their peers and the world around them. We believe that contributing to a wider community – whether on a local or international level – fosters empathy and a sense of social responsibility in our pupils from a young age.

The gift of service

Service to others is at the heart of Downe House’s ethos and we are aware of our responsibility to shape our pupils into thoughtful, engaged citizens.

By working directly with community members of all ages, backgrounds and needs, our pupils gain perspective and see first-hand how they can create positive change. Our girls leave Downe House with a passion for uplifting others through academics, advocacy, and action.

We are proud to enrich our community and model the values of empathy, collaboration, and social justice. There is a wonderful variety of events and initiatives throughout the year that pupils and staff get involved with.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of our Partnership programme in greater detail
please contact Michael Liggins (Director of Community Engagement & Head of Business and Economics) on

ligginsm@downehouse.net or 01635 204742.

The Wakefield Award

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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

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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. 

Community Service

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Community Service

Intergenerational activities at elderly care facilities reduces isolation through meaningful exchanges and activities. We also support community facilities including allotments, and recreation grounds for maintenance and planting workdays. 

Fundraising Events

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Fundraising Events

The School community fosters some long-term partnerships with charities, many of them local. Alongside opportunities to volunteer their time, pupils regularly organise events that raise funds for these charities and encourage the collection of donations too. This includes initiatives such as the West Berkshire Women’s Aid annual Shoebox Appeal and West Berkshire Foodbank appeals. It is always pleasing to be able to support pupil-led projects too such as the recent Remove girls’ creation and sale of Christmas Cards, to raise funds for the BowelBabe charity.  

Reading Programme

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Reading Programme

Downe House is partnered with nearly 20 local primary schools which our Sixth Form pupils visit as part of their Community Service. Our Reading Programme pairs them with younger children at these schools to nurture literacy skills.  

Community Links

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Community Links

Members of our local community benefit from a wide range of events hosted by the School which they are warmly encouraged to attend. These include weekly music concerts in our magnificent Murray Centre, with performances from our outstanding young musicians. They are also invited to come to our regular musicals, plays and other performances.

Other events include our annual Founders’ Day celebrations towards the end of the Summer Term, which involves a wide range of cultural and artistic events, all led by our pupils.

Local residents also have the opportunity to attend lectures and talks from distinguished speakers: recent speakers have included author Robert Harris, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine and entrepreneur Johnnie Boden.

If you live locally to Downe House and would like to join our mailing list for these events, please contact Michael Liggins, our Director of Community Engagement, at ligginsm@downehouse.net.

Annual Volunteering Day

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Annual Volunteering Day

Each year, our students participate in Volunteering Day, which involves leaving academic lessons for a whole day to provide practical assistance to around fifteen local charities, schools and community organisations. Activities include cleaning out local stables for Riding for the Disabled, helping the residents at Winchcombe Care Home and general maintenance and environmental work at Rushall Farm. 

Annual Conference

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Annual Conference

Downe House hosts a conference each year which draws teachers and school leaders from state and independent schools across the UK to hear renowned educationalists speak and to share best practice. 

Most recently, in June 2023, Downe House welcomed nearly 200 delegates from across the UK to an Academic Conference about Maximising Pupil Progress, hosted at our beautiful campus. 

The event was a highlight in the UK’s educational calendar and provided outstanding examples of thought leadership across the schools sector. It featured two very high-profile keynote speakers from the world of education: the Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, and Katharine Birbalsingh CBE, founding Headmistress of Michaela Community School in Brent. Read more here.

International Links

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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.

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.

Community News

Book your tickets | Academic Conference – Maximising Pupils’ Potential | Thursday 13 June 2024
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