We pride ourselves on the breadth of opportunity we provide for our young people to gain new skills. Our extensive Enrichment Programme, led by Assistant Head, Jon Albert, includes our innovative STRETCH programme, a wide variety of clubs, trips, sport, and the creative arts.
We seek to inspire every pupil, encouraging them to pursue and develop their individual interests and abilities, providing them with valuable learning experiences alongside their studies to become independent, mature individuals.
We provide wonderful sporting experiences and a wealth of opportunities for every child at Downsend. It is this ‘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:
- Finalist in the Independent Schools of the Year 2019 Award for Sporting Achievement
- 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 | U10 Shrewsbury House Rugby Tournament winners
- Cricket | Nominated by The Cricketer Magazine as one of the UK’s top 50 schools for cricket | U10 Danes Hill Cricket Tournament | U11 Donhead 6’s Cricket Tournament | U11 Boys Verney Cup winners
Through our RESPECT acronym pupils, parents and staff are all encouraged to build positive relationships, be involved in exciting and engaging sport at all levels, set standards, encourage participation in all pupils, enjoy sporting experiences, compete to win without the fear of failure, and learn the importance of great teamwork.
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. All pupils can sign up to drama clubs, take LAMDA lessons, participate in performances or behind the scenes. We produce several brilliant productions every year, which will be taken to a new level with the launch of our new Creative Arts Centre.
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 Programme
At the heart of our ethos is the intention to create grounded, socially responsible young adults who care for those around them.
Throughout their time at Downsend, pupils will have the opportunity to engage with an expanding array of day and residential experiences, opening their eyes to the world around them and building deeper connections to the learning that they support. Along with a rich variety of culture and adventure, these trips bring out a child’s character and support them to become self-confident young people.
Starting our residential program in Year 3 with an overnight forest school camp, the experiences expand in length and adventure through ‘Go-Wild’ and Bushcraft in Years 4 & 5, through to cultural weeks in France at the top end of the school. These are complemented by Sports Tours to Jersey and Barbados and an annual Ski Trip each year. As the Senior School expands so will the number and variety of field trips, DofE expeditions, and wider curriculum opportunities. The pupils are already looking forward to the prospect of Tanzania in Year 10 and Washington to support the History curriculum.
In the Senior School, our pupils are able to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award in order to develop independence, self-confidence, leadership skills and to understand the world around them to become mature globally responsible citizens. All pupils in Year 9 and 10 will be encouraged to undertake their Bronze and Silver Awards, developing skills and confidence that will be invaluable to their later lives.
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 such as self-confidence, leadership, collaboration, and resilience
- Be fun yet challenging, invoking an innovative, problem-solving mindset.
Stretch options are wide-ranging and varied – from Virtual Reality to Downsend Masterchef, Robotics to Dissection, Microscopy to Master Song Writers, from TED Talks to Orienteering. We work with partners to continue to deepen the content and bring a vital real-life component to the programme.
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.