Downe House School: Reviews, Rankings, Fees, And More

Welcome to a detailed exploration of Downe House School, a renowned institution nestled in the heart of the UK. In this article, we delve into the reviews, rankings, fees, and various facets that make Downe House a distinguished institution. From its rich history to its commitment to fostering a nurturing learning environment, join us on a journey to uncover the essence of Downe House School and why it stands as a testament to exceptional education.

Downe House School Review

Table of Contents

Key Features of Downe House School

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: West Berkshire
  • Pupils: 570; sixth formers: 163
  • Fees: Day £35,520; Boarding £47,760 pa

Downe House School Results

Downe House School achieved an 81% success rate in grades 9-7 at GCSE and a 64% A*/A performance at A-level (with 84% achieving A*-B) in 2023. In the last pre-pandemic results of 2019, the school recorded an 84% accomplishment in GCSE grades 9-7 and a 61% A*/A outcome at A level (with 86% achieving A*-B).

Boarding Facilities in Downe House School

Downe House School is known for offering comprehensive boarding facilities tailored to the needs of its female students.

  • Boarding Houses: Downe House School has multiple distinctive boarding houses, each fostering a unique sense of community. Housemistresses provide guidance and support to ensure the well-being of the students.
  • Accommodation: Students at Downe House typically reside in comfortable and secure accommodations within the boarding houses. The rooms may offer a personalised living space, contributing to a sense of home.
  • Dining Facilities: The school provides dining facilities where students can enjoy nutritious meals. Dietary preferences and restrictions are likely considered, and communal dining fosters a sense of community.
  • Common Areas: Boarding houses feature common areas where students can socialise, relax, and build strong bonds with their peers. These spaces contribute to the overall community atmosphere.
  • Study Areas: Downe House School has designated study areas within the boarding houses or shared spaces, facilitating a conducive environment for academic pursuits.
  • Recreational Facilities: The school may offer various recreational facilities, including sports fields, gyms, and other spaces for physical activities. These contribute to the overall well-rounded development of the students.
  • Supervision and Support: The boarding facilities at Downe House School are designed to provide a supportive environment. Housemistresses, housemasters, or resident staff play a crucial role in overseeing the students’ well-being and academic progress.

Extra Curricular Activities

Downe House School offers a vibrant range of extracurricular activities, showcasing a commitment to the holistic development of its students. Here’s a breakdown of some key extracurricular offerings at the school:


  • Director of Music Excellence: The school is praised for having an “off-the-scale brilliant” Director of Music.
  • Instrumental Learning: Over half of the students learn a musical instrument.
  • Young Musician of the Year: The school hosts a competition open to beginners and virtuosos.
  • Choirs: Every member of the Lower School is part of a choir, emphasising inclusivity. There are six choirs in total.
  • Polyphonix: The non-auditioned choir won Barnardo’s national competition in 2018 and 2019.
  • Musician-in-Residence: Bob Chilcott serves as the Musician-in-Residence, offering masterclasses, mentoring, and insights into Oxbridge scholarships and the professional music world.
  • Outreach: The school runs events for local prep and primary schools, including an annual orchestral fun day.


  • House Drama: Students participate in house drama events.
  • Musicals: Lower school musicals and whole-school productions provide opportunities for girls to take the stage.
  • Speech and Drama Lessons: 300 girls take extra speech and drama lessons.

Other Activities:

  • Crafts, Ceramics, and Cookery: The school offers a range of creative activities, including crafts, ceramics, and cookery.
  • Student-Led Cheese Society: A unique extracurricular option for students interested in cheese.


  • Extensive Sports Facilities: The school boasts 110 acres of rural Berkshire, including six lacrosse pitches and 17 tennis courts.
  • Lacrosse, Netball, Hockey, Tennis, Cricket, Athletics: Strong emphasis on various sports, with lacrosse and netball being particularly strong. Hockey is growing, and there’s year-round tennis, cricket, and athletics.
  • Private Lessons: Half the school takes private tennis and squash lessons in addition to regular PE.
  • Swimming and Triathlon: The school actively engages in swimming, with the triathlon programme growing.
  • Equestrian and Skiing: The school offers equestrian activities, and skiing is also part of the extracurricular offerings.

Overall, Downe House School provides a diverse range of extracurricular activities, catering to the interests and talents of its students across different areas of arts, sports, and other creative pursuits.

Admissions Process: Entering Downe House School

The admission process at Downe House School is competitive but well-organised, with a focus on identifying qualities such as kindness, ambition, and a willingness to engage in community living. Here’s an overview of the admission process:

Main Entry Points (11 and 13 years old):

  • Age of Entry: Fifty-five students join at the age of 11, and another 45 at the age of 13.
  • Registration: Prospective students need to register by the end of Year 5.
  • Pre-Test: Applicants undergo an ISEB pre-test.
  • Assessment Day: Successful candidates proceed to an assessment day.
  • Interview: An interview with the head of the school is part of the process. The head looks for qualities such as kindness, ambition, and a willingness to participate in community living.

Sixth Form Entry:

  • Application: Candidates for the sixth form submit applications.
  • Examinations: Sixth form candidates take general and subject-specific papers, depending on their chosen A-level subjects.
  • Interview: Successful candidates undergo interviews with the head of the school and the head of the sixth form.


  • Available Scholarships: Academic, drama, sport, art, and music scholarships are available at the main entry points.
  • Fee Remission: There is no fee remission for scholars.
  • Musicians: Musicians who receive scholarships benefit from free music lessons.

The school’s emphasis on identifying qualities beyond academic achievements and the availability of various scholarships reflect a holistic approach to student admissions. The admissions process is described by parents as efficient and well-managed.

SEN Support

English as an Additional Language (EAL) is provided at Downe House School. This support is a service provided by educational institutions to help students whose first language is not English. The level and type of support can vary depending on the school, the student’s proficiency in English, and individual needs.

Testimonials and Reviews

Emma Johnson

My daughter has been attending Downe House School for the past two years, and the experience has been truly transformative. The dedicated teaching staff and comprehensive academic programs have played a crucial role in her intellectual growth. The emphasis on character development and the supportive community make Downe House not just a school but a nurturing environment for personal growth.


As a parent, I’ve witnessed my son flourish at Downe House School. The school’s commitment to providing a well-rounded education is commendable. James has not only excelled academically but has also actively participated in various extracurricular activities. The vibrant community and strong emphasis on values have contributed to his overall development.

Sophie Williams

Downe House School has been an incredible chapter in my daughter’s educational journey. The school’s rich history and modern approach create a unique blend that fosters a love for learning. The diverse range of extracurricular opportunities has allowed Sophie to explore her interests and develop essential life skills. 


My time at Downe House School has been nothing short of amazing. From the picturesque campus to the engaging classrooms, every aspect of the school contributes to a fulfilling educational experience. The focus on leadership and character has prepared me for the challenges beyond academics. The friendships formed and the support received make Downe House more than just a school; it’s a second home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Boarding schools in the UK are educational institutions where students reside on campus, away from their homes. These schools offer full-time boarding options, where students live and study during term time, typically returning home during holidays.

Boarding schools offer a nurturing and immersive educational experience. Benefits include a structured environment for academics, access to a wide range of extracurricular activities, the development of independence and life skills, and a close-knit community that fosters lifelong friendships.

No, boarding schools in the UK welcome students from all over the world. Many schools have a diverse student body with students from various countries.

Boarding schools prioritise the safety and well-being of their students. They have trained staff, supervision protocols, health services, and designated staff members to address students’ emotional and social needs.

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