Downsend shortlisted in the Independent School of the Year Awards 2022 for Sporting Achievement

As finalists in 2019, Downsend is back fighting for another accolade in the prestigious Independent School of the Year Awards. We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the category of ‘Sporting Achievement’ in recognition of our holistic approach to sport across the school.

Our submission focused not just on wins on the scoreboard, but also how we have worked hard to understand how a robust sporting programme adds value to the ethos of the school, providing pupils with skills for life in addition to competitive accomplishments.

We provided the judges with a clear insight into our Future Skills vision, and how educational research helped us establish the skills our young people will need to thrive and to embrace everything the future has to offer. Alongside academic endeavours, sport plays a key part in the Downsend Future Skills vision. The aim ‘We shape incredible people with the emotional intelligence to build relationships, lead teams and adapt to the changing world’ is a representation of everything Downsend instils within teams, be that via elite or inclusive pathways.

Our submission described the Downsend sporting programme as extensive, competitive and inclusive. In 2020-21, A-I teams played over 1774 fixtures, with every level outperforming expectations in both result and style of play. The ‘sport for all’ ethos has long been a part of Downsend’s DNA – with non-selective sports practices attracting 90+ attendees every week, and sports tours open to all. As the school grows its Senior School provision, the curriculum has adapted to meet the changing needs of pupils, providing the opportunity for pupils to follow a pathway specifically designed to promote a healthy, active lifestyle. The major games are now complemented by swimming, badminton, table tennis, athletics, tennis and health-related fitness.

In recognition of Downsend’s increasingly successful footballing achievements (IAPS U13 National Football Champions and IFSA U11 National Football Champions), and the wider sea-change in the independent school market in relation to Rugby, we spoke of our decision to be bold and aim high for future footballing success. Downsend was one of the first independent schools to move to a mixed-sex cricket season, where teams are selected due to their ability, rather than their gender. This approach has been heralded as a success by pupils and parents and the inclusion of Downsend two years in a row as a Top 50 school by The Cricketer is testament to that approach.

Due to Downsend’s commitment to the skills associated with success, the outcome has been exceptionally positive with significant successes in all major sports.

Downsend is a school that values sport highly, but places greater importance on the skills that pupils will learn through participation, through deep and immersive training, through building relationships with coaches and players, through pushing themselves harder than they thought themselves capable. It is these Future Skills that Downsend considers an important part of its overarching ethos and the legacy that pupils will take with them – alongside their shiny trophies!

We’re eagerly anticipating the results in October!

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