Led by our Assistant Head (Enrichment), Jon Albert, we offer an ambitious, varied, and innovative range of opportunities to ensure that our academic programme is complemented. In line with our ‘stretch without stress’ approach, we consider it important that pupils have the time to undertake enrichment or extra-curricular activities that enable learning to come to life, believing this leads to stronger educational outcomes.
We aim to provide wonderful sporting experiences and a wealth of opportunities for every child at Downsend. It is this focus on ‘Sport for All’ ethos that saw Downsend nominated in the Independent Schools of the Year 2019 Awards.
Through dynamic and effective teaching and coaching, the ‘Sport for All’ focus is balanced with the provision of a range of activities delivered at the most appropriate level, including coaching for elite performance. Enjoyment, excellence, participation, teamwork and sportsmanship are key elements as every child develops their talents in the different sporting arenas on the way to acquiring a love and appreciation of sport for the future.
All Downsend pupils take part in at least three hours of sporting activity per week, taught by dedicated, experienced specialist staff. This is enhanced by further opportunities in additional sporting practices and match play, either after-school or at weekends.
We regularly invite elite sportsmen and women into Downsend to inspire a new generation of athletes. We have recently welcomed Sophie Drakeford-Lewis, and we are lucky to count England cricketer, Dom Sibley, as an Old Downsendian.
Downsend is a phenomenally successful school in the sporting arena, across a range of sports, with notable achievements:
- Hockey | Surrey Cup, U10’s, National Hockey Finals U13
- Netball | IAPS, U13’s
- Cross Country | Age group wins
- Swimming | Junior Boys Freestyle at Surrey Schools Secondary Individual
- Biathlon | Silver, Boys U11 and Bronze, Girls U11
- Football | Surrey Prep Schools Cup, U11A
- Rugby | Wellington College Rugby Festival, U11A
During lockdown, we competed and won the Cognita Home Games which saw our sister schools across the globe compete across a variety of sporting challenges.
When it comes to ambition, work ethic, and a love of the game – Downsend is hard to beat.
The Creative Arts
The Creative Arts are a fundamental part of what Downsend has to offer, as we firmly believe that integrating the arts into traditional academia brings significant benefits to a child’s cognitive growth, to their enjoyment of learning, and ultimately to their educational outcomes.
Drama is taught through direct subject teaching but is often integrated within a topic or another curriculum subject, especially English. Our aim is to develop imaginative and creative processes by involving pupils in a range of drama activities. We encourage children to express their ideas and feelings, to share ideas, and to work constructively as part of a team.
Music too is seen as an integral part of life at Downsend. Learning to play and appreciate music encourages teamwork, a sense of group identity, and the ability to be creative. Music helps to develop self-confidence and social skills, as well as supporting learning in other subject areas. As part of the curriculum, all children will be introduced to percussion and singing, recorder, and basic notation. This then progresses to the flute, trumpet, clarinet, and violin. In year 4, we introduce the joy of the ukulele, and in year 5, the opportunity to take part in the Young Voices concert at the O2 Arena.
Art and Design is the final component of our balanced and well-rounded approach at Downsend. We aim to challenge pupils to be imaginative, to express themselves but also to hone their problem-solving skills. We do this through a rich and varied programme of timetabled and enrichment opportunities, exploring themes and ideas, materials, and processes – encouraging both high standards and enjoyment in tandem.
Our approach to creativity is what makes Downsend so inspiring. Read more about our £5m Creative Arts Centre.
Trips, Residentials, and Character Development Initiatives
Downsend prides itself on the extensive programme of trips and residentials that provide children with the opportunities to learn and experience the curriculum in different ways.
In the Senior School, our pupils are able to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award in order to develop independence, self-confidence, and leadership skills.
Our Stretch programme for Year 6 and above is the very embodiment of our ambitious and innovative approach. Much of what makes children happy, confident, and successful cannot be taught, so this programme is specifically designed to stretch and challenge all pupils in areas beyond the curriculum.
It aims to:
- Foster curiosity, giving time and space for imaginations to have free reign
- Encourage children to take on new experiences with enthusiasm
- Develop essential skills for life – self-confidence, leadership and resilience
- Be fun! All Stretch activities are engaging and memorable, to stimulate the love of learning in every pupil.
Stretch options are wide-ranging and varied – from Virtual Reality to Downsend Masterchef, from French Film Club to Young Engineers (Robotics, Lego and Engineering), from Microscopy to Master Song Writers, from TED Talks to Orienteering – Fridays afternoons at Downsend are never dull, never one size fits all – and almost always inspiring!
Aside from our excellent programme in the Creative Arts, we offer over 70 different clubs to ensure that every child from Nursery to GCSE has a chance to try something truly extraordinary!
A selection of our Extra-Curricular Activities and Clubs across the school:
- Ball Skills
- Technology Club
- Forest School
Junior and Senior School
- Architecture: Explore the built environment through drawing, model making, and Lego;
- Baking and Sugarcraft: Learn how to cook meringues, mold chocolate, and make fondant figures;
- Chess: Take part in the UK Chess Challenge;
- Computer and Programming Club: Build on what you know and practice those skills;
- Maths Challenge: Hone your advanced problem-solving skills;
- Military History: Learn more about battles from times gone by;
- Nature Club: Arts, crafts and outdoor exploration;
- Electronics: Build your own models using simple kit;
- Pottery: Model making with air-dry clay;
- Public Speaking: Practice your presentation skills;
- Puzzle Challenge: Test your critical thinking
- Python Coding: Put your skills into action by creating your own websites and games;
This is a school where children can have it all and we encourage them to do so! We plan our school day meticulously with a balance of academic life enriched with extra-curricular activities at lunchtime and after school.
Our aim is to help children grow intellectually and socially but also to provide opportunities to discover hidden talents, progress a specific skill, and to enjoy themselves whilst learning.