Frequently asked questions for international students



Help with application, flights, school uniform, contact with parents, bank account, essential items, holidays and exeats, English language support, girls and school life, Housestaff, sweets and snacks, where do our students come from?

Where should I go if I need help with my application?

At Downe House we do not have any formal arrangements with particular agents or consultants – we recommend you email our Registrar, Miss Angela Nutt: for any support you may require with the application process. For support with visa application Downe House has instructed NCE, a UK immigration law firm that specialises in Child Student Visas and School Licenses, to complete and submit all visa applications, whether these are overseas applications, or renewal visas in the UK. Further information can be found on our Child Student Visa Policy.

How do I get to and from the airport to catch my flights?

We can help with your travel to and from the airport – Downe House is conveniently close to Heathrow and other airports. Airport transfers are usually arranged with other international students who are catching flights on the same day. We can also organise for you to travel as an unaccompanied minor with an airport car service which will take you to the airport and sign you in at the airline desk.

Can I order my school uniform in advance?

You can buy your school uniform and sports kit at the School shop and you need to contact the Shop directly about this. You can also organise for your uniform to be labelled for an extra cost, as all items need to have a name label.

When can I speak to my parents?

Special times are set aside for pupils to contact parents. Housemistresses are always ready to help with this and Skype is easily arranged.

How can I open a bank account?

Your Housemistress can help you to set up a bank account in Newbury so that you can have access to cash when you need it.

What essential items do I need to bring?

All the details will be sent to you in the summer term before you join, in your New Girls’ information. It includes information about bringing clothes for all weathers, bedding, personal items such as a teddy or family photographs.  You can send luggage ahead and other items can be bought online or at shops in Newbury or Oxford. If you play a musical instrument you may wish to bring this so that you can join in musical activities and orchestra.

What happens if I can’t fly home for the holidays (eg for a Short Exeat)?

All our international students have a UK guardian for those occasions when time is too short to fly home. This arrangement can be set up with a UK guardianship service. Downe House recommends and works closely with a number of AEGIS registered guardians used by current or former pupils, but this information should not be regarded as a recommendation for any one company in particular. Guardians should be over 25 years of age, resident in the UK and ideally living within a 60 mile radius of the school.

Can I have extra English language support?

All pupils applying to Downe House are expected to have a high degree of fluency in English.  However, we do support girls who require English as an Additional Language (EAL) and we have teachers here to support international students, should anyone need extra help.

How will I join in with other girls and school life?

Whether you are arriving in the Lower School, Upper School or Sixth Form, your Housemistress, Matron, Tutor and teachers will look after you. You will also be given a fellow student buddy, who will help you settle in and answer your questions.

For girls arriving in the Lower School, the House staff will take care of you as soon as you arrive.  You will be allocated an Academic buddy and a House buddy who will look after you, show you around the school and help you get to lessons on time.

There are many activities during the week and at weekends to keep everyone busy and help girls to get to know each other. At each entry level we know how important it is to help girls settle in fast and feel at home.

Who is the Housemistress?

The Housemistress is in charge of the House where you live and she looks after the girls with help from the Assistant Housemistress and Matron.  She lives in her own accommodation in the House and can help with absolutely everything! She will help you with laundry, your phone calls home, trips and travel, organising your time, sorting out problems and worries.  She is very much the ‘mother’ figure in House and will help you to settle into School life.

What happens if I am ill or homesick?

There is a fully staffed Medical Centre at School which is manned 24 hours a day throughout term time to look after girls who are ill.  All the girls are also registered with a local Doctor. House staff and pastoral staff are experienced in helping girls deal with the pressures of being away from home and family.

How can I buy tuck (sweets and snacks)?

There is a fully stocked tuck shop on site for sweets, snacks, stationery, uniform, sports kit and toiletries. As an overseas girl, your Housemistress can also help you with an online supermarket shop at the beginning of term. If you run out of something and cannot buy it in the tuck shop, a member of the House team will happily pick it up for you when they are next visiting local shops.

Where do international students come from?

Downe House has pupils from over 28 different nationalities from around the world including Africa, Asia and America, as well as exchange students from 15 countries visiting throughout the year – the school is a traditional British boarding school in its ethos yet reflects the world as a whole within its community.

Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.

A flexible and modern approach – Full Boarding | Flexi Boarding | Day Pupil – what’s your Downe House journey?
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