Our vision helps shape everything we do at Downsend. GCSE results are never far from our mind, but we do try to make sure that the focus on the whole person takes as high a priority as academic achievement. Our aim is to ensure that our young people are confident, secure individuals with the skills that will set them apart as they embark upon the next stage of their educational journey.
future skills in action
As our Year 7 pupils progress into the Senior School, their understanding of their place in the world, and their responsibility as global citizens grows. Having a solid sense of perspective and an ability to see the bigger picture is an important part of both our teaching and pastoral approach at Downsend.
Our curriculum encourages a diversity of opinion on race and gender issues, deliberately focusing on literature that promotes a global perspective. We study a wide range of cultures, from Music to History, and choose trips that will inspire and spark debate. Being part of a global schools group means we have enviable access to our sister schools in Chile, Asia and Spain so we seek to learn from them and bring that learning to the classroom or through exchange experiences.
Our commitment to providing support to both global and local charitable causes is part of the fabric of who we are, and Senior School are expected to dedicate time to work within the community.
Our research to define our Future Skills vision showed that irrespective of sector, employers and universities seek the students that excel in ‘non-cognitive skills’; the ability to be empathetic, to listen, to have a voice, to adapt, to be resilient and to be a part of an amazing team.
At Downsend, we work with students to be well equipped academically, but crucially we place equal importance on their value to the wider world and the skills they will need as they become young adults. We encourage debate, promote public speaking and group performances and encourage all pupils to take on positions of leadership. We expect all pupils to take on the Duke of Edinburgh Award, to focus on their physical, technical, willpower and community skills and to help them grow as people.
We encourage pupils to focus on their wellbeing, through initiatives such as Global Be Well Day and by using personalised programmes such as AS Steer to help us signpost potential mental health issues before they escalate.
We know that the ability to think creatively is much demanded by employers as manual tasks become increasingly automated. Creativity is one of the key skills highlighted by the World Economic Forum as vital for the workforce of the future, alongside analytical thinking and complex problem-solving.
We use Virtual Reality headsets to ensure the learning experience is fully immersive, using our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment to design, use machinery to develop products, to evaluate and review.
In Year 8, pupils take part in Downsend Dragon’s Den, working alongside real-life dragons from a variety of sectors and areas of expertise to strategise, design, implement, deliver and market their own product.
Our ground-breaking STRETCH programme covers a wide range of creative disciplines such as Pfizer’s Science in a Box to Young Engineers and Rocket-Making. Alongside this, we excel in the more traditional Creative Arts, giving all pupils the opportunity to perform musically or theatrically.
Being part of a global schools group gives us unrivalled access to the latest Ed-Tech developments. During the pandemic, we rolled out 1 to 1 devices to every pupil from Reception and above, enabling us to move seamlessly to online learning and to capitalise on our pupils’ increasing levels of digital skill. We use the devices alongside best-in-class technology platforms such as One Note, to improve collaboration and feedback, and AI based platforms such as CENTURY, to personalise and stretch the learning experience.
We know that our Senior pupils are true digital natives, using a wide range of digital applications, software, media and programmes with ease. We aim to build on this innate knowledge, firstly ensuring safe and appropriate use of tech through digital citizenship modules. As part of the Cognita Schools Group, our digital maturity rating is ’embedded’ and we aspire to ‘leading’ status within the short term.
We use our 1 to 1 devices and a wide range of technologies such as One Note and Century, to: blend learning across subject areas; to tailor feedback appropriately; to personalise the learning experience dependent upon learning style; to engage in real-word scenarios and to build relationships through collaborative work.
As a result, our pupils are articulate and competent in their use of tech and are able to give sophisticated explanations as to why and how they would use specific technologies.
To read more about the process we undertook to establish our new vision, and what it means for Downsend pupils, take a look at our brochure, A Vision for the Future – A Guide for Parents.