Our Virtual School

We’ve found some amazingly creative and inspiring ways to live, learn and enjoy Downe House @home. Staying connected – this is our response to Covid-19.

The Covid-19 frontline: diary of a respiratory doctor – part 4

Friday 3 July

Term may have ended but we are reminded that so many people continue doing vital work on the frontline. Dr Neda Hasan (DH 2008), a respiratory doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, shares her fourth and final instalment of stories from the frontline against the virus. You can read her poignant entry here.


A full term of Digital Downe House

Wednesday 1 July

After the end of term assembly and a whole staff meeting, all that remains is to wish our entire Downe House a wonderful summer.

Final Assembly and Prize Giving

Wednesday 1 July

Wednesday morning’s Final Assembly and Prize Giving was a wonderful celebration of everything the girls have achieved this term and this year. Mrs McKendrick and the onsite resident staff met in the spacious Murray Centre auditorium to film the live event which was filled with photos, videos and montages of so many memories and highlights from this unusual term and this whole school year. We are so proud of every girl.

Of course, Congratulations Aisholt for winning the House Cup for the most Stars and Commendations!

Saying goodbye to our Upper Sixth

Although we could not yet say goodbye to our Upper Sixth in person, the photographs and videos during the morning were a fitting and personal virtual send off. The Willis Housestaff also had a final goodbye with our tremendous Upper Sixth on Zoom. They have been a phenomenal year group and we are already missing them and cannot wait for the opportunity to see them at leavers’ day in person.

Big Music Quiz

Tuesday 30 June

The Music department held a Leading Musicians Quiz over Zoom. Congratulations Alice for winning this hilarious quiz!

Virtual Law Society talk

Tuesday 30 June

On Tuesday evening the Law Society held a fascinating event over Zoom. President of the Law Society, Lily Mathews introduced event,

The Law Society will be welcoming Dexter Dias QC who will be giving a talk about racism and particularly the recent Black Lives Matter movement from a UK perspective. This is a very current topic that has been affecting people all over the world and this talk will be an excellent opportunity to learn about what is happening in the UK.

Dexter Dias QC is a leading international human rights lawyer, a researcher at Cambridge and formerly Harvard, special advisor to UNICEF on human rights, the author of the bestselling The Ten Types of Human, and Chair of the Global Media Campaign to end FGM. He is also a part-time judge, sitting at the Old Bailey, and authorised to act as a High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench and Family Divisions.

Global Ambassadors virtual relay raises £2,674 for the International Rescue Committee

Monday 29 June

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of Downe House Global Ambassadors organised a charity ‘Virtual Around the World Relay’ to raise money for the International Rescue Committee (IRC).


Virtual Sports Day

Monday 29 June

We held our Virtual Sports Day over the weekend and there were 650 results to process – our girls certainly stepped up for their Houses! Special mention to Tedworth who were runners up, and well done Aisholt for taking first place!

Founder’s Fortnight Afternoon Tea

Sunday 28 June

The weekend was the perfect time for families to get involved with our virtual Founder’s Tea. To this end, our Downe House staff produced video recipes to help you recreate your very own Founder’s Tea. We asked the School community to send in photos of their own Founder’s Tea picnic. Here are just some of the highlights from our families around the world enjoying their very own versions of our acclaimed ‘Founder’s Afternoon Tea’. Although we’re not together on campus, we’re still together in spirit, bringing the Downe House community together – virtually!


24 hour charity dance-a-thon

Satuday 27 June

At 12 noon our girls and staff kicked off a 24 hour Dance-a-thon in aid York’s House charity, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. Girls could sign up for ten minute slots throughout the day and night to raise money for this fantastic cause. To date they have raised £1500 on their JustGiving page which you can view and support here. Well done, girls!

National Boarding Week

Friday 26 June

On the Friday of National Boarding Week, we compiled some tips, tricks and ‘best bits’ of boarding at Downe House!

Drama double bill

Thursday 25 June

On Thursday we had our Drama double bill for Founder’s Fortnight. At 6pm we had Unprecedented, a showcase of individual creative projects that girls have been working on over lockdown. Entries were submitted to various categories and we were delighted to welcome guest adjudicator and Hamilton West End’s own Dom Hartley-Harris! Well done to Clemmie (LVI) who won the competition with her stunning musical performance. Then at 7.30pm we held our Women in Theatre: discussion panel
Hosted by the Drama and Dance Department where four guest speakers talked about their journeys within the theatrical industry.

The Lockdowne Lowdowne

Thursday 25 June

Over Founder’s Fortnight, the Learning for Life department have encourages us all – girls, staff and families – to reflect on and share what we have learned from this unusual period of life. Funny answers, heartfelt answers, very specific answers… introducing the Lockdowne Lowdowne.


Lower Sixth take steps towards university

Wednesday 24 June

On Wednesday 17 June, the Lower Sixth took part in a Higher Education Applications Day, marking an important milestone in their education journey. Chioma, Susie and Chloe tell us about what it was like starting their UCAS applications and hearing from a recent School alumna who shared her personal insights into choosing and applying to university.


Sports Personality of the Year

Wednesday 24 June

The Sports Personality of the Year awards were testament to the hard work of so many athletes across the School. Congratulations Anna (UVI) who was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award – well and truly deserved!

DH LINKS Big Virtual Insight

Wednesday 24 June

DH LINKS held a live virtual insight with six members of our alumnae community, all of whom have pursued very different career paths and experiences since leaving Downe House.

Captain Tom Moore congratulates alumna Margaret

Tuesday 23 June

We were in awe of 90 year old Margaret (DH 1947) who finished her huge staircase climb for charity 10 weeks, 282 staircases and 2,398ft after she started. At this point she has raised over £357,000 for various charities. We are all so proud of Margaret and it was wonderful to see 100 year old Captain Tom Moore sending Margaret a special message! You can read more about Margaret’s challenge here.

Spotlight on Music

Monday 22 June

The Music department has a number of events on over Founder’s Fortnight – from the Music Unlocked concert filled with fantastic performances to a Sunday evening radio show with special guests, composers Bob Chilcott and Will Todd!

Gift of Service

Monday 22 June

Over Founder’s Fortnight we’re encouraging girls to do an act of service – whether it’s writing a letter, shopping for a neighbour, or fundraising for charity. We have had some wonderful images, videos and letters sent in by girls.

Meet our new Head and Deputy Head Seniors

Sunday 21 June

A brief pause from Founder’s Fortnight to get to know our new Head and Deputy Head Seniors, Tosin and Poppy! Although we cannot see them in person just yet, we could still find out their hopes and plans for the next school year. Read the interview here.


Bengaluru Family Race

Sunday 21 June

For Founder’s Fortnight, the Sport department organised a Bengaluru Family Race where Downe House families simply had to walk, run, cycle or swim as far as they could. Families could submit their cumulative distances to win prizes!

A glimpse of Founder’s Fortnight events

Saturday 20 June

As part of Founder’s Fortnight there are plenty of ongoing activities to dip in and out of with your families. There are also 20 events which have a live element including the ones listed below which take place next week.

Virtual Mufti Day for Alzheimer’s Society

Friday 19 June

We’ll leave it to the Tedworth girls to explain our mufti cupcake day in aid of Alzheimer’s Society! You can still donate here.

Welcome to Founder’s Fortnight!

Wednesday 17 June

🎊🎉🎈 Welcome to Founder’s Fortnight! 🎊🎉🎈

We cannot celebrate Founder’s Weekend in the normal way, but we can definitely still bring our whole School community together! Introducing Founder’s Fortnight – two weeks of more than 50 events and activities, of which 20 contain a live element. You will be able to dip in and out of the programme to suit family life but we hope you will enjoy what’s on offer.

As Mrs McKendrick said,

Downe House is an exceptionally special place and this Fortnight has been put together to celebrate all that is unique about our community. What shines through is the variety and richness of the events and the collaboration, commitment and creativity that underpin the programme.

We will post reminders before certain events but keep an eye on the Founder’s Programme you have been emailed which contains live links – it has everything you need!

You can see an overview of the events here.

Sport talk series: Inclusion in Sport

Wednesday 17 June

For our last live Sports talk of the term, we were delighted to welcome Erin Walters-Williams to join us. Erin is an inclusion specialist who has worked on Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Campaign as well as with the FA and Sky Sports on issues around inclusion.


Lower Sixth Higher Education Day

Wednesday 17 June

On Wednesday 17 June, the Lower Sixth took part in a Higher Education Applications day where they began their UCAS applications, took part in workshops on personal statements and university applications, and heard from recent School alumnae about their experiences. Chioma, Susie and Chloe tell us about what it was like taking the next step towards university.

Whole School Assembly

Monday 15 June

Another inspirational and busy Whole School Assembly. We were interested to hear from Head Girl, Tosin and her Deputy, Poppy, with feedback from School Council on our community response to the #blacklivesmatter movement. Five clear action points were mentioned to lead to a ‘long-lasting’ plan. We also heard from our Global Ambassadors who presented an excellent update on current affairs. Lizzy and Clemmie presented an exciting update from the Dance and Drama Faculty plus Mrs Barnard shared information on Alzheimer’s disease ahead of the mufti day.

Virtual masterclasses for feeder schools

Monday 15 June

It is wonderful to hear how our feeder schools are getting on with the virtual masterclasses we are offering them. Swanbourne House pupils are mastering the Russian alphabet!

Virtual 3km fixture vs St Swithun’s

Friday 12 June

The whole School community had from Friday 12 June to Sunday 14 June to take part in our 3km virtual race against St Swithun’s.

Murray Centre Live

Wednesday 10 June

Each week the Murray Centre publishes a digital magazine full of articles, reviews and media. It was a fantastic Murray Centre Live edition this week to support the girls in achieving Mrs McKendrick’s challenge – ‘to make a difference’. See what our editorial team and guest contributors have put together.

Sport talk series: From fibula fracture to Euro 2016 in 35 days

Wednesday 10 June

We had an incredibly interesting talk Sports talk delivered by FA Wales Head Physio, Sean Connelly. He provided a fascinating case study as well as some very useful injury prevention and return to play advice.


Sisters swim the Channel to support hospice care charity

Tuesday 9 June

Elodie (UVI) and Daisy (LV), along with other members of their family, successfully swam 21 miles in a relay to raise money for Rennie Grove Hospice Care. Read the news story here.


Let’s talk about race

Monday 8 June

Miss Tinman and Miss Donaldson organised a ‘Let’s talk about race’ open discussion over Zoom. Even though we cannot meet in person, it was wonderful to come together to create a safe space for girls’ to talk.

The Covid-19 frontline: diary of a respiratory doctor – part 3

Monday 8 June

Dr Neda Hasan (DH 2008), a respiratory doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, shares more stories from the frontline against the virus. You can read her blog here.


HEGI finish their charity Global Relay

Sunday 7 June

Celebrating World Environment Day

Friday 5 June

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year and the theme this year was biodiversity. The School’s Eco-Committee challenged members of the Downe House community to do something to help wildlife or biodiversity in their local areas or homes. You can see the efforts of girls, staff and their families here.


Emily serves her local community

Friday 5 June

We’re so proud of Sixth Former Emily who has been putting her time, and her Leiths skills, to very good use by helping to prepare and deliver food to those in need in her local community. Well done, Emily. We’re very proud of you!

Sport talk series: Staging the game and telling its stories

Wednesday 4 June

With DH Sport special guests Lucy Fowler, Senior Assistant to the Chair, Premier Team Promotions, Sophy Coombes-Roberts, Senior Account Manager, Pitch Marketing and Claire Thomas, Assistant Producer, Sky Sports. Together they share some of the amazing ways to be involved in sport professionally, and how the skills they have picked up as athlete have proven invaluable to their work.


‘Back’ to School

Monday 1 June

We’re into June and we’re looking forward to the second half of a Digital Downe House term after a sunny (at least in the UK!) half term. Happy to see that Tedworth’s greenery is looking particularly lovely!

Eco-Committee secures £1500 donation for the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust

Thursday 28 March

You can read more about what the Eco-Committee are up to, as well as the actions being taken around School to help make us more eco-friendly, by reading their newsletter here.

Wristbands for the NHS

Sunday 24 May

Two Green Men, Kevin and Jeff, have collaborated and have had a number of wristbands made in aid of the NHS. If you would like to support this initiative, please do click on this link and the wristbands will be sent to your home.

12 ‘good news’ stories from Downe House

Saturday 23 May

We have been overwhelmed by the good news stories of compassion and creativity within our School community during Covid-19. Here are just twelve examples of how girls and their families, staff and alumnae around the globe continue to support charities at a local, national and international level in wonderful ways… from current students to a nonagenarian alumna!


Providing much-needed PPE for local community organisations

Friday 22 May

Our IT team have been 3D printing more face shields for a local Newbury care home and a charity.


The Covid-19 frontline: diary of a respiratory doctor

Thursday 21 May

Dr Neda Hasan (DH 2008), a respiratory doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, shares stories from the frontline against the virus. We’ve been blown away reading them.


Sport talk series: Sarah-Jane Perry – Playing to your strengths

Wednesday 20 May

Our fourth guest speaker in the DH Sport talk series is Sarah-Jane Perry, squash player, British number 1, World number 6, two-time British Champion, World Team Champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist. Sarah-Jane gave an insightful talk about how recognising your own strengths and those of others can help you realise your potential.


Junior lacrosse club

Tuesday 19 May

Our Junior lacrosse club, run by Lacrosse captain Fran, has proved a great hit with girls in the younger years.

Biology Q&A with leading virologist

Monday 18 May

A couple of weeks ago Dr Mike Skinner (husband of our own Dr Judith Skinner) was kind enough to do a Q&A session with both Upper Sixth groups before they left. He is a world-renowned virologist and has done a number of interviews for various papers recently on Covid 19 including with the BBC Science Focus magazine.

The girls asked some very interesting questions that fell into three areas: the biology of the virus (its emergence and differing effects on humans), the impact of the pandemic and differing responses to it, and vaccine development and application.

Today, Dr Mike Skinner very kindly hosted two further Q&A sessions for the Upper Fifth bridging lessons.

Thoughtful, stimulating questions from all of the students. They demonstrated keen, mature curiosity about viruses (building on the excellent background covered in class lessons), which will serve them well as they make their way into a post-COVID-19 world.

Dr Mike Skinner

Our first virtual sports fixture

Sunday 17 May

This weekend we were challenged to a virtual 3km race by Cheltenham College. Whilst we took on their girls, Radley took on their boys. The race lasted from 6am Friday 15 May until 6pm today and we were delighted to hear that over 50 girls and over 40 staff took part, and that Downe House won overall!

Here’s a look at some of the staff entries:

The winning girls:

To complement this event we set up a Downe House Families 3km virtual race running throughout the whole weekend. It was open to mums, dads, brothers and sisters. A huge well done to everyone who took part. Prizes are on their way to category winners!

Our first virtual Communion

Sunday 17 May

Our Sunday Service was broadcasted live and it was our first virtual Communion. We were delighted to welcome the Venerable Liz Adekunle, Archdeacon of Hackney, preaching for us. Liz spoke at our Founder’s Weekend service last year and you might also recognise her from BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day.

DH LINKS: In Conversation With… Medicine & Healthcare Professionals

Saturday 16 May

The next episode in the DH LINKS Vodcast series is here. Thank you to our guests, Emily Pullan (DH 2009), Libby Brewin (DH 2008), Clare Ratnage (DH 2002), Elle Manners (DH 2012) and of course our fantastic host Rosie Tapner (DH 2014). Rosie interviews these four impressive women, who work in very different job roles in the Medicine and Healthcare profession. Enjoy!


Sport talk series: For the love of lacrosse

Wednesday 13 May

DH Sport hosted their third guest speaker as part of our Wednesday Sport Talk Series. Hannah Thurston is an England and Duke University lacrose player, U19 World bronze medallist, U20 European gold medallist and All-World Team player. Over 200 people tuned in to listen to her fascinating talk about how she developed a love for the game and how it gave her opportunities as well as challenges. After the talk Hannah did her best to answer as many of the 150 questions asked as possible. You can watch the talk and Q & A back here.


Connecting with our partner schools

Wednesday 13 May

Although school exchanges are temporarily on hold, our exchange ambassadors have been quick to reach out to our partner schools around the world with messages, letters, diaries and photos to share their own experiences of their adjusted way of life. Although we cannot physically visit, we are still learning and still connecting across the world. You can read the girls’ messages to our partner schools here.


Special sport talk: Graham Kitchener – an insight into professional sport

Tuesday 12 May

We were delighted to welcome Graham Kitchener, an English professional rugby player, who gave a live talk and took a Q & A on the demands of professional sport. Huge thanks to Downe House Sport for organising such a special event.


Clap for carers in the cloisters

Thursday 7 May

A beautiful end to the day and a very special one as our resident community joined together to clap, cheer and bang their makeshift drums for key workers, and to mark the start of the VE Day weekend. A special thank you from the McKendrick family – they send the DH community here in the UK and across the globe their good wishes.

Our first virtual mufti day

Thursday 7 May

When we moved School online, Arella in Upper Sixth was disappointed that her mufti day in aid of Kangemi Church School Kindergarten would have to be cancelled. But there’s always a way! She worked hard to organise the first ever Downe House virtual mufti day.

The theme was ‘wacky fancy dress’ and the money raised will support a kindergarten that Arella, who lives in Kenya, volunteers at which is based in the slums of Nairobi. The money will go towards vital education resources like pens and paper as well as sanitation like clean water and toilets.

Arella said: “Dress up in your craziest outfit… anything that you can find in the house, and take a photo! The money will go a really long way and will make a huge difference to their lives so thank you in advance.”

Wednesday 13 May update

Wow! After Arella’s virtual mufti day last Thursday we are absolutely delighted to see that as a School community we have helped raise over £1000 for Kangemi Church School Kindergarten – double Arella’s target! It’s not too late to give. Thank you to everyone who has supported!


Women in Sport | Women in Politics

Wednesday 6 May

We had two really terrific events for the School community today.

Sport talk series: Rowing and where it can take you

DH Sport hosted GB Rower and two-time Olympian, Louisa Reeve. It was a fascinating insight into Louisa’s life as a professional rower and what she has achieved since her retirement.



Women in politics: a live virtual insight

DH LINKS ran a live insight into Women in Politics with an impressive panel of guests including the MPs for Newbury, Stafford and Ynys Môn as well as a current politics student and Harriet Finney, Director of External Affairs for the British Film Institute who works on policy and lobbying for the creative industries and is currently running the Covid-10 Film & TV Taskforce for the government.


Music update

Tuesday 5 May

The Music department have been working hard to set up the Virtual Music School. There is plenty going on including:

  • Composers’ Corner
  • Desert Island Discs
  • The Listening Zone
  • Premium Practice
  • Sight-Reading and Aural Zones
  • Virtual Chapel Music
  • Music Support e.g. recording accompaniments
  • Weekly Quiz

Virtual choir

Dr Exon took our the School’s first ever virtual choir rehearsal on Zoom. Nearly 50 people attended to get involved with singing, from girls to staff to parents – it was a wonderful, if rather unusual, moment.

Music Challenge

A particular highlight is the Weekly Fun Music Challenge. Every Monday the Music department post a challenge and accept entries until Friday, with the winner announced on Saturday. Dr Exon introduced the first challenge…

And we saw plenty of impressive entries including…

Sixth Form programme

Monday 4 May

“It is very rare in our lives that we are given the gift of time to explore interests and develop our knowledge without the pressure of examinations or assessments.”

Mrs McKendrick

We’ve launched an incredible opportunity for our outgoing Upper Sixth. Girls can sign up to courses and sessions on everything from French literature to personal finance to self defence. Not the end of the year they hoped for but we are determined to make them feel special. At a glance:

  • 24 x 1 hour single sessions
  • 33 five-week courses
  • 22 guest presenters
  • 189 hours to enjoy

A thank you message from Mumbai

Sunday 3 May

We were delighted to hear back from OSCAR Foundation in response to our fundraising effort for their emergency appeal. You can still support the OSCAR Foundation’s work here.


Land’s End to John o’ Groats

Saturday 3 May

We hope that wherever you were over the weekend, the sun was shining. The Sport department certainly encouraged us to get outside and make the most of it by challenging the whole School community to collectively travel from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. We managed it and even did over 300km extra! Well done to everyone who took part!

Clap for carers in the cloisters

Thursday 30 April

This evening at 8pm, twenty resident families carefully gathered at a safe distance around the cloisters to Clap for Carers whilst our Chaplain rang the Chapel bell. The cloisters have always been a prominent feature of our archive photos and this will certainly be a School memory to hold on to.

Sport talk series: Dr Eleanor Gaastra – Striking the balance

Wednesday 29 April

DH Sport hosted the first of their weekly Sport talk series which will take place on Wednesday afternoons. We were delighted to welcome Dr Eleanor Gaastra, Wales lacrosse captain and Specialist Registrar in Anaesthetics tho gave a live talk and answered a Q & A about the challenges and rewards of balancing sport, academics and life. During Covid-19, Eleanor has a incredible and emotional insight into life on the front line and we thank her so much for giving us her time. You can watch the event back here.


Two point six challenge

Sunday 26 April

A huge well done to everyone who has taken part in the 2.6 challenge. Today would have been the day of the London Marathon and the challenge was to think of an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. We saw staff and girls doing everything from running, walking and cycling to trampolining, nerf gun shooting and staircase climbing the equivalent of Scafell pike!

Our NHS heroes

Friday 24 April

We’ve been hearing so many stories from within our alumnae community about our very own NHS heroes working on the frontline. It was great to see so many of our School community engaging and tagging their own NHS heroes.


View this post on Instagram


We want to share the stories of some of our incredible alumnae who are working on the front line in the fight against COVID-19. Let’s celebrate the incredibly brave, compassionate and selfless work they’re doing. 📩 We promise to share any stories and news we receive so NOMINATE YOUR HEROES and TAG YOUR FRIENDS below or dm @dh_links to tell us news. 👏 At 8pm tonight during the #clapfortheNHS maybe you could join us in honouring these brave women alongside the other heroes you know in your life. ❤️ There are so many heroes out there doing their bit, not just in the NHS, and we’d love to hear about them all. Please do nominate your heroes and dm @dh_links. ☀️ Heroes: ☀️ Emily Pullan (DH 2009) A midwife in London . Rachel Clydesmuir (Colville DH 2001) Working in a psychiatry inpatient hospital . Vivian Li (DH 2011) A Senior House Officer in Acute Medicine . Jen Mae Low (DH 2009) A Junior Doctor in Intensive Care . Camila Day (DH 2001) She is pregnant so working from home supporting all her trainees via email with issues such as PPE . Shivani Singh (DH 2015) A second year dental student . Jessie Robinson (DH 2014) A physiotherapist . Lucy Brain (DH 2001) A GP who still holds the Downe House 100m record! . Anon. A general surgeon who has been redeployed and is working nights in ITU. . #NHSheroes #DHheroes

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Let’s talk horses

Thursday 23 April

DH LINKS have launched a series of vodcasts. Our special guests for the first episode are Rosie Tapner (DH 2014), Charlotte Agnew (DH 2006), Emily Scott (DH 2008) and Minty Farquhar (DH 2009). All of whom work or are involved in the world of horse racing or eventing. Traditionally, Downe House would offer a small gift of thanks to any ‘visiting’ speakers. Rather than receive a gift, our four wonderful alumnae have chosen to support the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal. We thank Rosie, Emily, Minty and Charlotte for their time and expertise.

“Needless to say, the four of us are hugely disappointed by the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on our various lines of work, but of course there is a greater cause to be fought at the moment and the British racing and eventing industries remain primarily focused on supporting the national effort, maintaining social distancing restrictions and taking care of their people and horses.” Minty Farquhar (DH 2009)


‘Back’ to School

Wednesday 22 April

It’s the start of a new, and very different, term but we’re excited to get going. We began Summer term with a Whole School Assembly in which Mrs McKendrick spoke to us about the importance of staying outward looking.


Oscar Foundation emergency appeal

Tuesday 21 April

We’re so proud of Airlie, Alice, Cecilia and alumna, Milly for encouraging us to be outward looking during isolation. We’ve heard from the Oscar Foundation about the extreme challenges facing the families and young people they work with from low-income communities in India during lockdown. They have set up an emergency appeal to help get basic food and provisions to those most desperately in need. Please consider giving if you are able; £1 can feed a family of five for a day, so any donations can make a huge difference.

Happy rocks for heroes

Friday 17 April

Bella in Lower Sixth has been busy painting Happy Rocks for Heroes over Easter, leaving these little positive messages along the new path from Hermitage to Hampstead Norreys. She would love the local community to get involved:

I have painted a few rocks and put them along a woodland path near us to brighten people’s day. It would be great if you could help to share the love and find a rock, paint it, make a donation of £5 or more to the NHS and nominate someone to do the same. You can either keep it, or leave it somewhere near you for others to find and enjoy. I would love to see lots of Happy Rocks along footpaths and will keep painting them too!

Well done Bella, we’re proud of you!

Eco-Schools Bronze Award

Wednesday 15 April

We were delighted to hear that we have achieved the Eco-School’s Bronze Award. Led by our Eco-Committee (the DECOs) and Mrs Phillips-Morgan, we have begun to assess our environmental impact as a School community and implement positive changes. You can read more news from our Eco-Committee here.


A message from the Chaplain on Easter Sunday

Sunday 12 April

Hello and a very happy Easter to you and your family and friends. May you know God’s peace wherever you are and however you are feeling this day.

The woods around Downe House are bursting with blossom and bees and birdsong. Spring is here! May you experience the hope of new life with you now.

Can I invite you to listen to a short reflective Easter service and be blessed.

Once again a huge thank you to Prima Voce for singing “Look At the World” by John Rutter. This beautiful hymn celebrates the gift of creation and was performed in October at Reading Minister for the Judicial Service in which the choir was invited to lead worship by the High Sheriff of Berkshire. Many thanks to Miss Holmes, Dr Alexander and Mr Lambert.  A special thanks also goes to Miss Holmes’ and Dr Exon’s fathers for singing. Finally, I would like to congratulate Dr Exon for inspiring the choir with such passion and putting this beautiful piece together for us for Easter Sunday.

God bless you this Easter and always,


Revd Anthea Platt



Educating educators

Tuesday 7 April 

Our Head of Modern Languages, Mrs Jane Basnett is incredibly active sharing her expertise in education technology and remote learning. She recently led a webinar for 100 teachers from the UK and abroad on how to collaborate on Microsoft Teams. She demonstrated how Downe House departments collaborate through Teams to learn from each other’s work as well as showing how easy it is to set up assignments so that as a teacher you can keep abreast of how students are engaging with the assignments and collect grades which provide great insight into student progress. Mrs Basnett said:

The meeting was really positive and most people stayed at the end for another 45 minutes of Q & A! I have been asked to lead another webinar on Monday, again for the Association of Language Learners.

We’re delighted to have Downe House heroes like Mrs Basnett leading the way in sharing good practice!

Virtual holiday club launch

Monday 6 April

Although the holidays are certainly a time to relax and enjoy family time, we thought that, with the current restrictions on movement and many normal holidays and holiday pursuits cancelled, some of the girls may enjoy having some activities on offer to dip into over the Easter break. A whole range of staff from around School volunteered to run sessions and we have been able to put together a virtual holiday club programme for the girls and their families. Some sessions are live; some are recorded and they cover everything from workouts to cooking, to book clubs, to computing and crafts and much more besides. Girls can sign up to any activities that are of interest.

3D printing face shields for NHS staff

Friday 3 April

Our IT team are supporting front line heroes by 3D printing face shields which will provide much-needed personal protection for NHS Staff.

These are the first five shields. The shields for these ones are made out of laminated empty polly pockets!

Supporting those who may be isolated in our Community

Members of the Remove and LIV have received an email from the Foundation Office asking them if they would like to make a gift (create a piece of Art, write a letter, make a card or anything similar) for some of our older alumnae who we know live on their own. It could be on the theme of Easter or it could reflect something of life at Downe House now, for example. Anything that would cheer them up and ensure that they know that the School community is thinking of them would be hugely valued. Girls can post these to Mrs McKendrick at Schools and she will arrange for them to be sent on.

Sport update

Friday 27 March

Downe House Sport were quick to adapt to online teaching and learning, putting challenges and work outs in place as well as setting girls the challenge of maintaining their own sport diary. The girls record and share their diaries on OneNote which means they can record in a whole range of creative ways: from producing TikTok videos with friends to writing out their workout routine to sharing images of working on their skills.

Miss Quarterman, Assistant Director of Sport, explained the benefits of teaching sport remotely which both the girls and staff are learning:

You can see the girls understanding the importance of physical activity – it’s not just a lesson in the timetable but a way to stay healthy and relieve stress. Not to mention it’s the perfect chance to work on theory skills, by watching video and annotating images.

Check out some of the inventive sports diary entries below!


Our 1st Lacrosse team created something special for the #PassItOnChallenge. Enjoy!

Instagram challenges

Sport are setting weekly challenges on Instagram for the whole School community and it’s been great watching students, staff, alumnae and parents all getting involved! First off was the ‘eyes closed tree pose’. Watch all the challenges so far here!


ICT going strong

Friday 27 March

Remote learning hasn’t hindered our ICT lessons as Lower Fourth girls learned a new language… HTML! Not to mention they’ve been using their problem-solving skills to code together.

Science experiments

Thursday 26 March

Who said that science experiments have to stop?

A busy day in Biology spent filming experiments for the girls to access via Teams; making yoghurt for the LV Food Production module and showing Remove girls the need for chlorophyll in photosynthesis.


Cookery continues

Friday 27 March

Cookery lessons continue as girls can make full use of their kitchens at home. From lunchtime challenges to baking, the girls have showed us their delicious results!

Library update

Thursday 26 March

The Library has been busy updating the Book of the Week and sending girls relevant reading lists. We definitely can’t complain that we’re short of reading recommendations!

Not to mention that, in conjunction with the English Department and in celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April, they are running a monologue competition. Girls can submit a recording of a Shakespeare monologue of their choice. After the first round, homemade props and supporting actors can be included!

Mrs Hill, Learning Resources Manager, also pointed us all towards The Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation in the USA that has removed limitations on access to its comprehensive library of digitised books and other materials donated by libraries and universities around the world. They have launched what they are calling The National Emergency Library where you can now borrow digital copies of more than a million books for free. It’s easy to sign up right here.


Staff keep cheery

Thursday 26 March

It’s a challenging time for everyone, and we’ve loved seeing staff onsite and offsite stay connected, whether it’s pulling pranks or baking bread!

Art, textiles and rabbits

Wednesday 25 March

It’s truly inspiration seeing how every subject is being taught online. Girls have been learning to use new Sketchbook software for one point perspectives in Design and Technology. In Art, girls have been drawing cacti and taking part in other challenges. A particular highlight was welcoming a new member to the Art Department team. Mrs Keeling’s rabbit, Gilbert, sat and posed for the Lower Fourth’s art lesson!

Food donations

Tuesday 24 March

After we made the decision to close the School, the Catering team gathered all our perishable food and donated it to vulnerable and self-isolating families in our surrounding villages. We got a message that seven families living in self-isolation received donations on the very first evening with more to follow.

A digital personal best

Monday 23 March

The amazing stats say it all about our quick adapting to remote learning: on Monday 23 March alone, staff and pupils took part in 751 meetings on Microsoft Teams.

Moving to digital teaching and learning

Friday 20 March

We started seeing amazing examples of teaching and learning remotely, including a drama lesson by Mrs Richardson in an empty drama studio as well as intercontinental tutorials and PE lessons!

One last song

Thursday 19 and Friday 20 March

With a combination of remote and classroom teaching, and saying goodbyes to girls going home, Downe House Music brought the School community together for some music. On Thursday, Prima Voce came together for a final concert in the Chapel which was shared online as a virtual musical gift for the isolated, ill, elderly, or lonely. On Friday at midday after the students had departed, the Music staff plus a few extras came together to form a jazz band to play for the staff in a moment of wonderful solidarity and celebration.