Headmaster's Welcome

 Headmaster - Downsend School

Having worked in Surrey as a Deputy Head and Head for the past 16 years, I am all too aware of Downsend's excellent standing in the local area. Academic results speak for themselves and high achievement, both at Common Entrance and Scholarship level, has become the norm at the school. Throughout my two years at Downsend, I have been impressed, not only with the collective determination to achieve the highest standards but, equally importantly, the affection of pupils, staff and parents for the school, as well as the ability to look ahead with enthusiasm. 

Happy children succeed and, at Downsend, the opportunities to play sport or make music together in outstanding facilities, explore the creative arts, learn a range of languages and employ the latest technology underpin the sense of achievement. Our newly created Music Suite, with professional acoustic sound booths for practice, enhanced by a Music Technology offering, has ensured that the popularity of Music continues to grow. A new outdoor cricket net facility and improved cricket nets, matting and LED lighting in the Sports Hall and a refurbishment programme extending to a number of teaching spaces, including our Science Labs and Design Technology areas, has created an improved teaching environment. This summer we refurbished our ICT suite, science lab, netball & tennis courts.  Our Pre-Preps have also benefited from improvement works to enhance the physical spaces for our youngest pupils. 

The range of activities on offer does not come at the expense of a close-knit community and a strong sense of partnership provides the consistency needed for our pupils to flourish. The School is divided into three distinct Pre-Preps and two sections in the Prep School, all led by highly-skilled practitioners sensitive to the differing needs of children as they move through the school and offering exceptional pastoral care as highlighted in our latest inspection report. The recent organisation into an Upper and Lower School allows us to better prepare our pupils for their transition to their chosen senior school at 13. This co-ordinated response is already having a positive impact, as evidenced by an outstanding set of 11+ results in Pre-Testing and Entrance Examinations. Over 95% of pupils who sat examinations to gain entry to selective schools have been offered places. 49 Scholarships were claimed by Downsend pupils in 2016, 22 of them Academic Awards or Exhibitions and 17 were Sport Scholarships.

I am fully committed to maintaining the momentum generated over recent years. Much of our focus has been upon systems that support and encourage the very best practice within our classrooms. Individual learning profiles are identified for all of our pupils and ensure that our teaching is tailored to their optimum learning style. Regular lesson observations by senior staff, coupled by a formalised approach to scrutinising pupil work, has identified the very best practice and offered guidance for future areas of development. We are planning to enhance opportunities for the benefit of all our pupils through the introduction of Downsend Academies in Football, Hockey, Netball and Cricket. Over the coming years, I look forward to building on the School's already excellent academic results, maximising the use of technology to support teaching and learning, raising the profile of the Creative Arts, Music and Sport to create centres of excellence, and developing the links between the Pre-Preps and Prep School and between school and home. 

I believe that there is no such thing as a normal day at Downsend, a school where pupils discover for themselves their own unique talents. We remain committed to ensuring that every child has the chance to nurture and develop his or her own abilities. You are always welcome to come and visit us, so please contact our Admissions Registrar, Sarah Concanon, on 01372 372311, or via E-mail, and she will be happy to arrange an appointment for you. 

Ian Thorpe
Headmaster