Our Virtual School

Another period of Digital Downe House means finding new ways to live, learn and enjoy Downe House @home. Staying connected – this is our response to Covid-19.

Film and Food Festival

Thursday 25 March

We marked the end of term with an outdoor Film and Food Festival. Both Mamma Mia! and Mamma Mia! Here we go again… were on show. The girls were up dancing and singing and having a wonderful evening with comfy chairs, delicious food, warm drinks and of course, sweets and ice cream. Our online girls got to take part to with their VIP tickets linked to the screenings. Thank you to CCA, Catering and Estates for organising such a brilliant evening!

Celebration on Writing

Thursday 25 March

All the girls spent an inspirational and uplifting afternoon watching our Celebration of Writing event in the company of four very successful writers Clare Balding (DH 1988), Cesca Major (DH 2000), Marina Hyde (DH1992) Virginia Macgregor (former Teacher of English and AGN Housemistress). We heard what inspires them, how they became writers, their top tips for budding writers, their biggest challenge and perhaps most entertainingly, their favourite memories of Downe House! Thank you to all the panellists for taking the time to join us and for all their humour and great advice!

Virtual House Drama and Dance competition

Wednesday 24 March

A fantastic House Drama and Dance 2021 Final last night – we were wowed by the brilliant performances from all the Finalists. Thanks to everyone who has supported this year’s competition and especially to our Adjudicator, Jodie Steele for her incredibly detailed and expert feedback for all the performers. And the winners were… UV girl, Mary who performed a monologue she wrote herself and the winning House was Holcombe!! Congratulations!!

Young Musician of the Year competition

Monday 22 and Tuesday 23 March

This term’s Downe House Young Musician of the Year 2021 competition came to an exciting climax this week with the Finalists performing both live in the Murray Centre Studio and from their homes across the globe. Our Guest Adjudicators, Mr Bob Chilcott and Mr Alun Jones, had the very difficult job of choosing the winners but it was wonderful to hear them giving every Finalist such detailed and encouraging feedback. The winners were:

Music Maker YMOTY 2021: Kayla (LIV) who sang Earth, Sea and Sky

Maestro YMOTY 2021: Maria (LIV) who performed Chopin’s Mazurka in G Minor

Virtuoso YMOTY 2021: Sophie (LVI) who performed twice – firstly with Arnold’s Sonatina for Clarinet and secondly on piano with Chopin’s Nocturne no.1 in Bb minor

Huge thanks to all the Visiting Music Teachers, our wonderful Accompanist, Miss Susan Holmes, the Adjudicators for their expert advice and wise words and to all the staff at Downe House who made it happen. And of course, well done to everyone who took part this year!

Downe House Podcast

Saturday 20 March

Tune in to Episode 2 of the Downe House Podcast featuring Jenny Hill. Our host talks to Jenny about her role in the Murray Centre and how the new space allows for a very special type of collaboration for staff and pupils. It’s a great listen!

Positive Feedback from our E-Champions

Wednesday 17 March

Our Digital E-Champions have given some wonderful feedback on remote learning – have a read below.

Lower Fourth Art Workshop

Sunday 13 March

Mrs Jones ran an Art workshop for the Lower Fourth. The girls took photographs around the School grounds and used these to create lively compositions that show the arrival of Spring. The girls had an hour to plan, sketch and paint their piece using expressive brushwork and vibrant colours in the style of David Hockney. Well done girls, lovely pieces!

Scroll through the images to take a look.

A talk with Sir Geoffrey Nice QC

Wednesday 10 March

York House welcomed Sir Geoffrey Nice QC for a lecture on International War Crimes at the launch of the Global Affairs Society. Sir Geoffrey was knighted in 2007 for his contributions to International Criminal Justice and at the lecture discussed his current work at the ‘Uyghur Tribunal’ which is a tribunal exemplifying an alternative approach to justice. The lecture was both thought-provoking and extremely interesting, and led to many discussions amongst the girls in House.

Physical Theatre Workshop

Tuesday 2 March

The UIV girls interested in taking GCSE Drama next year were treated to a Physical Theatre workshop last night hosted by The Watermill Theatre. Thank you to the Watermill staff for such an inspiring online workshop – looks like we have a very talented group of girls entering the Lower Fifth next year.

Downe House Show Stopper Bake Off

Tuesday 2 March

Well done to everyone who took part in the Downe House Show Stopper Bake Off to raise money for the West Berkshire Food Bank. Congratulations to our winners, they all look too good to eat!

Tatiana reaches semi-finals of Berkshire Young Musician of the Year

Monday 1 March

Such a fantastic achievement. Well done Tatiana!

Drama Scholars chat with Geraldine James

Wednesday 24 February

Our Geraldine James Drama Scholars had this incredible opportunity to talk to Geraldine herself – lots of advice and guidance on entering the industry from such a distinguished British actress (and DH Alumna). Can’t think of anything more inspiring for a drama student at Downe House! Many thanks to Geraldine James for sharing her experience and time with us.

Artist of the Month

Monday 22 February

Congratulations Imogen on becoming February’s Artist of the Month!

Politics Society

22 February 2021

The Downe House Politics Society was delighted to conduct an interview with Simon Manley who is about to take up the role of Ambassador to the WTO and UN in Geneva. Simon joined the civil service in 1990 and he was the UK Ambassador to Spain for six years before serving as Director-General for COVID-19 in the FCO Department. We were exceptionally grateful that he could spare some time from what must be an incredibly busy schedule to share his experience working in international relations.

One of the hosts, Lower Sixth girl, Mathilda reports a few of the questions and answers,

What is the biggest challenge facing the diplomatic community?

Answer: The climate. Simon highlighted the importance of the COP26 that will be held in Glasgow this November and the ‘enormous diplomatic effort’ that will be required to try to fix the climate crisis.

How do first-world countries choose which smaller nations to help?

Answer: It depends on a variety of factors, such as what is actually happening in the country and the willingness of Parliament to intervene, and these are ultimately very difficult decisions to make. Simon  suggested some wider reading for those  interested in global politics, The Naked Diplomat by Tom Fletcher, and books by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, former Ambassador to Afghanistan.

It was a fascinating evening and I certainly gained a lot of knowledge about what a job in the international political sphere entails, and I am sure that all those who attended did too.”

Aisholt’s Charity Cookbook

Friday 19 February

A massive shout out to the girls from Aisholt who have created a cookbook with 60 recipes from all over the world and are selling these with all proceeds going to Aisholt’s House Charity, Reality Gives. Amazing work girls, well done!

Happy Long Exeat

Friday 12 February

I am quite sure that girls and staff alike will all enjoy a break from online teaching and learning this week. The girls should be in no doubt of the admiration of the teaching and Housestaff for the way in which they have approached the term with such commitment, creativity and positivity.

Mrs McKendrick


DH Music Live

Friday 12 February

We hope that many of you tuned into DH Music Live on Friday. Thanks to special guests Bob Chilcott and Jonathan Manners for getting involved, it was a terrific testament to our creative Music department!

Celebrating Chinese New Year

Friday 12 February

Great to come together albeit virtually to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Lots of departments came together to organise events for our families to take part in.

Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Thursday 11 February

We celebrated International Day of Women and Girls in Science with a quiz about female scientists and some of our girls shared which scientists inspire them. Thanks to Dr Pilkington and the Science department for organising a special day.


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Making Miles Together with Radley College

Monday 8 February

Downe House joined forces with Radley College to launch a special collaborative sports challenge! From Saturday 6 February to Friday 12 February at 12 noon we’re seeing how far we can travel! Families can add their walking, running, cycling, swimming, horse riding and whatever else to clock up our miles. Over the first weekend we had over 50 Downe House entries with 500+ miles travelled by our families all over the world!

Remove Social with Elstree

Saturday 6 February

On Saturday evening our Remove gathered virtually for a live bake off with the boys from Elstree School. The first of a different kind of social, the event proved extremely successful with new friendships formed and even a suggestion that there was “more chatting than had they all been in the same room”! Huge thanks to CCA for organising such a successful event.

First ever virtual Global Schools’ Exchange

Friday 5 February

Friday marked the start of our first ever ‘virtual’ Global Schools’ Exchange, with Izzy and Clara’s social with Advika and Karmanya from Mayo College Girls’ School, India. The girls explored topics from interests and sports to schools and culture. We are looking forward to future exchanges.

Live online dance lesson for Prep and Primary schools

Thursday 4 February

So great to see 53 Infant students and 68 Junior students who joined us for our online live dance lesson with Miss Ward! The event was such a success, our Drama and Dance department are running more dance lessons until Long Exeat.

Sports talk: Turning setbacks into success

Wednesday 3 February

We welcomed DH Sport special guest Fontaine Wright, former Team GB and England No. 1 Badminton player, mindset coach, athlete mentor and personal trainer.

Fontaine shared how she managed to overcome career threatening injuries, financial setbacks and lack of confidence to become England’s highest world ranked women’s singles player, and live her dream of being a professional badminton player and competing with the best in the world.


E-Champions advice

Saturday 30 January

Great advice for making the most of IT in remote learning from our E-Champions.

Mufti Day for the Fostering Network

Friday 29 January

Foster care isn’t like Tracy Beaker.

Sixth Former Nellie ran our online Mufti Day in aid The Fostering Network, encouraging us all to wear orange!

Nellie explained her choice of charity for the Mufti Day in Whole School Assembly:

“This charity is very important to me, as I have been in foster care since 2018.

I’m very lucky to be at a school like Downe where I have endless opportunities to be who I want and study what I want. But this isn’t the case for most young people in foster care. Though I will be going to university next year (hopefully), only 12% of other young people in care actually go on to higher education!

It’s charities like The Fostering Network that fight for not only extra educational support, but support with mental health as well.”

You can still get involved with Mufti Day by supporting The Fostering Network here.



Check out our Instagram story below for the highlights! We’re proud of you, Nellie!

Biology Taster Lessons – opportunity to ask a question to a leading Virologist and expert in Covid-19

Thursday 28 January

A fantastic opportunity for our Upper Fifth who are interested in taking Biology A Level. As part of their taster lesson, the Biology department invited Dr Mike Skinner, Senior Lecturer at Imperial London and expert in viruses, for a Q&A session on viruses. Dr Skinner has been interviewed by the BBC and has served as a lab support volunteer at at the UK Lighthouse National COVID-19 (PCR) Testing Laboratory so it was a a truly enriching experience for our girls who asked insightful questions.

Project Day

Wednesday 27 January

It’s Project Day – a day for every girl to unplug from technology, be completely off timetable and spend the day pursuing a project of studies she has chosen and planned with the support of staff. Whether it’s exploring another culture, creating an artwork from nature or immersing herself in a new book, a piece of music, tailoring a skirt, cooking dinner for the family and of course, making the most of getting outside to exercise and engage with her local area… the plans and possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to hear about how the girls have used this special time to get away from the screen and learn.

Whole School Assembly

Monday 25 January

Our Monday morning Whole School Assemblies continue online. This week it was wonderful to meet the new team at Downe House Muscat and to find out more from Mrs Scott about the beautiful city of Muscat.

Burns Night celebrations

Saturday – Monday 25 January

The HEGI, PE and CCA departments joined together to create a series of events and challenges to celebrate the next in our series of global festival celebrations… Burns Night!

Congratulations to Tedworth House for winning the Highland Challenge and thanks to Miss Prentice for her top tips on how to celebrate Burns Night.

Sports talk: Love the sport not the success

Wednesday 20 January

Our latest online Sports talk was something a little different…
“Love the Sport not the Success” with Joanne Jones – an Open Water British Champion and marathon swimmer. Joanne is an open water swimmer, and is passionate about the importance of finding a sport you love, doing it for the enjoyment and not just the success.

Joanne proved incredibly inspiring and with so many amazing stories to share. Thanks to Jo and to everyone who joined us online!

Biology DNA modelling

Monday 18 January

In the spirit of the Downe House DNA, our seven core values at the heart of School, Mrs Harrop set her Upper Fifth Biology class a prep to make a model of DNA using whatever they could find. She was delighted with the results!

Smile Mile

Sunday 17 January

DH Sport challenged us all to get outside and complete 1 mile of exercise at the weekend with a big SMILE. Lots of different activities completed and so good to see so many happy smiley faces too!


Beginning of term assembly

Monday 11 January

‘We can make this term special if we work together, show generosity of spirit and bear in mind that everyone has a contribution to make.’

Inspiring words from Mrs McKendrick at our first assembly of the Lent term this morning.

We welcomed our Interim Deputy Head, Mr Phil Wise and congratulated all the girls who were successful in their ABRSM exams, to Evie, Tilly, India, Lauren and Poppy who have been selected for the Berkshire Hockey Squad and to our newly appointed E-Champions – Queena, Alice, Cosima, Dominica and Tomi. Exciting news from Miss Tinman about the new Learning for Life initiatives and as always, brilliant entertainment from our Head Seniors, Tosin and Poppy with their top tips for remote learning.

Have a great term everyone!