Little Downsend (age 2 - 6)

Little Downsend (age 2 - 6)

We have three Little Downsend locations in Ashtead, Epsom and Leatherhead. Each teaches children from the age of 2 (First Steps) to 6 (Year 1). All the Little Downsend sites are overseen by Headteacher, Mrs Vanessa Conlan, who instils the same ethos, high standards and innovative curriculum across each school through her dedicated team of experts.

Vanessa Conlan

Map of Downsend

Our Nursery children are cared for by the specialist Early Years teams, who care for the children and form strong bonds from day one. Within a nurturing environment, even our youngest children are encouraged to explore, be curious, to problem solve and to learn through play.

In Reception and Year 1, our small settings and class sizes enable children to grow their confidence and to start to learn in a more structured way, whilst still within the comfort of an environment that they know and love.

The teaching approach is rich with opportunity, guided by the national curriculum but complemented by breadth, in areas such as languages, technology and by using our excellent outdoor spaces to embed concepts whilst providing active legs the chance to run off some steam.

Across all three schools, our aspiration is to build upon the natural curiosity of children and their desire to learn.

We are proud that in 2020, 54% of children in Reception at Little Downsend exceeded the Early Learning Goal for reading, against a national average of 18.6%.


Each Little Downsend follows the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework in First Steps, Rising Reception and Reception. We provide imaginative ways of acquiring numeracy and literacy skills; we grow turnips, hatch chickens, create slippery slopes…stimulating curiosity and imagination. During these precious formative years, we embed the foundations for learning; young brains grow at a phenomenal rate – everything we do, from French to fast feet, from bubbling cauldrons to yoganory, they soak up like a sponge.

Children in Year One follow Key Stage 1 of the National Curriculum. As confidence grows their eagerness for learning is satisfied by an exciting and varied curriculum and a more structured approach. They become readers, writers, thinkers and innovators; it inspires us to see them well prepared for the next stage of their educational journey at Downsend.

There is a feeling of being part of a family at each school; class sizes are kept small which means we are able to offer a personalised learning programme for each child.

First Steps

from age 2


Through ‘play’, children develop their concentration, language (speaking and listening), hand-eye coordination, manipulative skills and physical coordination. They gain all skills that come before reading, writing and numbers and an early understanding of basic concepts, such as colour, number, shape, size and time. Children are equipped with brilliant basics so their learning journey is accelerated from the very beginning.

Specialist teachers provide lessons in French, Music, Art, Technology, Dance and P.E.


Rising Reception

3-4 years


Although the curriculum continues to be ‘play’ based, the daily routine and the teaching of early literacy and numeracy become gradually more structured.

From learning the alphabet sounds, children move on to simple word building activities. Some will be ready to start reading during this year. Practical activities to develop pre-writing and pre-number skills continue, and creativity is developed through art and craft activities and imaginary play.

Specialist teachers provide French, Music, Art, Technology, Dance and P.E.


4-5 years

In Reception, children work towards completing their learning journeys within the Early Years Foundation Stage. A structured learning programme enriches each child’s individuality, giving them a sense of independence and responsibility and includes:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional development
  • Communication and Language
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the World – History, Geography and Science
  • Expressive Arts and Design – Music, Art, Craft and Design, Drama
  • Physical Development – Dance, Games, Gym and Swimming
  • French

Year One

5-6 years


Year One sees the beginning of Key Stage One of the National Curriculum. Learning becomes more structured and is divided into the following subjects:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Religious Education
  • Personal, Social and Health Education
  • Computing
  • Geography
  • History
  • Art and Design
  • Design and Technology
  • Music (including Recorder)
  • Physical Education
  • Dance and Drama
  • French

Our aim is that all the children learn to be responsible and work independently, increasing their skills in all areas of the curriculum before they transition to the Junior School.

Wrap Around Care

Little Downsend


We know that you need Nursery and School hours to suit busy lives. At each Little Downsend we provide Early Bird/Breakfast Club sessions in the morning, and an Extended Day in the evenings.

Little Downsend Leatherhead

  • 07:30am -8:00am: Breakfast Club
  • 08:00am – 8:30am: Early Bird Club
  • 3:30pm – 4pm: Late Class
  • 4pm – 6pm: Extended Day

Little Downsend Epsom

  • 07:45am – 08:30am: Early Bird Club
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Late class
  • 4:00pm – 6pm: Extended Day

Little Downsend Ashtead

  • 07:45am – 08:30am: Early Bird Club.
  • 3:30am – 4pm: Late Class
  • 4pm – 6pm: Extended Day

Our Spaces

Facilities at Little Downsend

Whether you’re at Little Downsend in Leatherhead, Ashtead or Epsom, each have truly outstanding facilities. Although they each possess their own special character, our focus on ensuring that Downsend children have well-equipped, light, airy classrooms, brimming with interactive activities, all designed for child-centred learning does not waver from one to the next.

Our outdoor spaces are where we surpass ourselves, designed specifically for the needs of children aged 2 to 6, offering soft surfaced areas, zoned play, undercover seating for those inevitable rain showers, quiet spots for relaxing, and a garden for growing our own fruits and vegetables. Each Little Downsend is on the road to earning their Level 5 RHS School Garden Award. 

Make contact with our Admissions Team or Book a Personal Tour:



If you would like to know more about the admissions process at Little Downsend please visit the admissions pages, or we’d be delighted to hear from you. There are many ways to make contact with us:

We look forward to hearing from you.

01372 372197