Family-friendly boarding

Boarding is not just an element of life at Downe House but underpins everything we do.

Meeting family needs

At the heart of the experience at Downe House is boarding. We aim to provide our families with a boarding model that is well suited to the needs of a modern family who lead busy lives. Offering both flexibility and stability, boarding at Downe House ensures that the girls’ pastoral and educational needs are at the heart of all that we do.

Creating a home from home

Boarding at Downe House is divided into eleven Houses: four Lower School Houses (Years 7 and 8) – including our boarding House in France where our Year 8 girls spend a term – five Upper School Houses (Years 9, 10 and 11), and two Sixth Form Houses (Years 12 and 13).

Each House is run by a Housemistress who oversees a dedicated team of Housestaff and Tutors. Our Housemistresses are teachers who understand both the academic and pastoral lives of our girls. Our unique boarding structure enables us to offer the very best specialised pastoral care for each stage of development. Our three-step boarding comprises of the Lower School, the Upper School and the Sixth Form boarding houses, which allow for our Housestaff to really tailor the care for each individual and meet the needs of the girls at each stage of their teenage development.

The pastoral care at Downe House is holistic and looks different for each individual. Through the nurturing boarding environment, our dedicated Housestaff team will help your daughter grow to her potential, find balance and develop essential skills for life.

Equally as important, boarding gives our girls their most fond and special memories from their time at School as they learn to care for themselves and each other.

Boarding: a partnership

Relationships are at the heart of our community and that very much includes the families of our girls. We will work hard to get to know each family and we understand the importance of this. The adolescent journey is not always a straightforward one and we aim to give the girls tools to help build healthy relationships. We work closely with our parents to support them in their relationships with their daughters too; the triangular relationship between the girl, her parents and Downe is hugely important. Over the course of the academic year we have a range of talks, workshops and interactive programmes for our girls and their parents to further facilitate the building of healthy relationships.

Family time

As a full boarding school, we have the luxury of time and space, which helps foster the strongest of relationships, not only with each other but with the wider community too. Creating the right balance of boarding and family time is important at Downe House. Each term the girls have closed weekends at School when important events and activities take place, and fixed long weekends at home to ensure they have a chance to catch up with family and a well-earned rest from busy boarding-school life. In addition to these specific weekends, the girls may choose to go home or out for a family event on four other weekends across the term.


While opportunities to go home for family time is vital, there is always a vibrant weekend programme of activities on offer which is published well in advance to allow families to plan across each term. Our weekend activities programme provides the girls with a wide variety of options. Our Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) department organises a dynamic and diverse range of weekend experiences, including trips to the theatre, cinema, to visit local amenities such as Marwell Activity Centre, Windsor Castle, Cotswold Wildlife Park and to take part in activities such as trampolining, iFly Skydiving, ice-skating and go karting.

Find out more about the Lower School Weekend Enrichment Programme.

Find out more about the Upper School Weekend Enrichment Programme.

Find out more about the Sixth Form Weekend Enrichment Programme.

Space for wellbeing

Alongside the CCA activities, girls are encouraged to take time to relax as part of our Wellbeing programme. We firmly believe that knowing how to eat healthily, sleep well, exercise, relax and manage stress are every bit as important as other aspects of School life. Our Finding Balance programme includes yoga, mindfulness and a range of techniques and tips to ensure that the energy and pace of boarding life have a natural counterpart, where relaxation, fun and stillness have their place.

Time to study

The weekends also give the girls time to keep up to date with their studies.

The Murray Centre provides the girls with an ideal study space away from their rooms. The girls can choose to work independently in the Library or collaboratively in one of the many spaces within this inspirational building. The Murray Centre is staffed throughout the day until late in the evening to ensure the girls are well looked after and supported.

A partnership with parents

Occasionally there are weekends when it will be important for your daughter to remain in School due to a commitment, such as a drama rehearsal or a music concert. We advertise these events well in advance to help families plan for these weekends.

Your daughter’s Housemistress will always be on hand to discuss weekend options with you so that the arrangements work for everyone.

Boarding is a way of life

Genevieve Ford, Boarding Deputy

At Downe House we are committed to boarding as a way of life, one that gives your daughter the time and space to develop at her own pace, to discover new interests and untapped talents and to form deep, supportive bonds within the boarding community.

Life in a boarding school is always busy and every day is different. The pressure on girls in today’s world is considerable and it can be a tricky time emotionally. I believe that our girls are in need of strong leadership, high expectations and consistency.

We have put in place an uncompromising programme of personal support and pastoral care to create a sense of community, with each House providing a home from home. Our holistic approach also takes account of each girl’s wellbeing, placing emphasis on healthy, balanced minds and bodies. Our wellbeing programme gives the girls the tools for life to care for themselves as well as each other.

With warmth and guidance from our Housestaff, girls are encouraged to develop a positive outlook, live happily and develop fully in every aspect of their lives. With outstanding support from personal academic tutors, we ensure that every girl is able to gain the most from her time at Downe House.

With the gift of time that boarding affords, we can also promise to provide enrichment opportunities beyond the curriculum, open your daughter’s eyes to global opportunities and build her confidence so that she can fulfill her dreams, no matter what life throws at her.

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?