Downside School: Exploring Reviews, Rankings, Fees, And More

Embarking on the journey of choosing the perfect educational institution for yourself or your loved ones is an intimate and significant decision. Amidst the myriad of options, Downside School offers not just education but an experience that shapes minds and hearts alike. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Downside School, exploring its distinctive features, hearing from those who have experienced it firsthand, and providing valuable insights to guide you in your quest for the ideal educational path. 

Downside School Review

Table of Contents

Key Features of Downside School

  • Boarding: Yes
  • Local authority: Somerset
  • Pupils: 334; sixth formers: 152
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Fees: Day £20,550 – £24,390; Boarding £30,300 – £40,650 pa
  • Open days: October, March and May

Downside School Results

  • GCSE Results (2023): 42% achieved grades 9-7.
  • A Level Results (2023): 38% attained A* or A grades, with 66% securing A*-B grades.
  • A Level Results (2019 – Pre-pandemic): 36% achieved A* or A grades, with 63% securing A*-B grades.

Boarding Facilities in Downside School

  • Accommodation: Imagine arriving at Downside and being welcomed into one of six unique boarding houses, each with its own story to tell. For junior boys, it’s like stepping into a slice of history, with dorms that echo with the laughter of generations past. Yes, the ceilings may be low and the rooms a bit snug, but there’s a sense of camaraderie that fills the air. The girls, on the other hand, get to enjoy purpose-built houses that feel more like home, with all the modern comforts you could ask for.

  • Boarding Experience: What truly sets Downside apart is the sense of family that permeates every corner of the boarding houses. Students from all year groups mix and mingle, creating friendships that last a lifetime. The house staff are like surrogate parents, offering a guiding hand when needed and a listening ear when things get tough. 

  • Activities and Routine: From early morning until late at night, there’s always something happening at Downside. Whether it’s sports, drama, or simply hanging out with friends, there’s never a dull moment. Even day students get in on the action, staying late to make the most of the vibrant school community. And let’s not forget about the food – it may not be Michelin-starred, but it’s pretty close. With healthy, sustainable options and dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a fancy restaurant, meal times are something to look forward to.

Extra Curricular Activities in Downside School

At Downside School, the array of activities available is as diverse as it is vibrant, ensuring that every student finds their niche and flourishes both creatively and physically.

  • Music and Performing Arts: The Grade I listed abbey church takes centre stage as the heart of musical and cultural expression. From prestigious choirs like the Schola Cantorum to modern bands and ensembles, there’s something for every musical taste. The recently refurbished theatre also provides a platform for theatrical productions, where collaboration between the music and drama departments results in captivating performances like “Little Shop of Horrors”. 

  • Visual Arts and Design Technology: From digital design in the Mac studio to hands-on projects like screen printing and construction, students are encouraged to explore their artistic potential across various mediums. Whether it’s designing elaborate costumes for art projects or crafting practical solutions like homemade weights benches, creativity thrives under the guidance of dedicated staff and visiting artists. Regular trips to museums and galleries enrich the learning experience, inspiring students to push the boundaries of their creativity further.

  • Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and Outdoor Pursuits: With proud links to the Irish Guards and an active CCF, students have the opportunity to engage in military training and outdoor expeditions. From marching to the beat of their own band to embarking on challenging Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, students develop leadership skills and resilience in the great outdoors. The school’s picturesque surroundings also provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities like sailing and boot camp training.

  • Sporting Excellence: Downside School’s sporting tradition is legendary, with maroon and mustard-clad athletes showcasing their skills across various disciplines. From rugby and cricket on the immaculate pitches to hockey, netball, and tennis, there’s no shortage of sporting prowess on display. But it’s not just about winning; the values of discipline, honesty, and stewardship are instilled in every athlete, with personal growth celebrated as much as victory. Beyond traditional team sports, students can explore alternative pursuits like sailing and weight training, with a full-time physio on hand to keep them in top form.

Admissions Process: Entering Downside School

Here’s a breakdown of the admissions process for Downside School based on the provided information:

  • Year 7 Entry: Admission into Year 7 primarily involves online Cognitive Abilities Tests (CAT tests), followed by an assessment and interview conducted in January each year. This process helps the school identify candidates who demonstrate the academic potential and personal qualities that align with Downside’s ethos and expectations.

  • Year 9 Entry: The admissions process for Year 9 is more structured and commences earlier. Students typically undergo either ISEB pre-tests or CAT tests, along with an assessment day, usually held in February of Year 6 or 7. This thorough evaluation ensures that students admitted into Year 9 are not only academically capable but also well-suited to thrive within the school’s environment.

  • Sixth Form Entry: Admission into the Sixth Form is based on a combination of entrance papers in chosen A-level subjects and academic performance. Unconditional offers may be extended to candidates who demonstrate sufficiently good performance in the entrance papers. Conditional offers, on the other hand, are contingent upon predicted GCSE grades and a school reference, ensuring that students possess the academic foundation necessary to excel in their chosen A-level subjects.

  • Other Entry Points: Downside School also welcomes students at various other entry points, including Year 11. In these cases, admissions may accommodate short-term overseas students, providing them with opportunities for academic growth and cultural exchange.

Downside School SEN Support

The management and academic team are capable of support pupils with the following educational needs:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia

Downside School Testimonials and Reviews

Ella Starr

Oh what a jolly merrow this place brings;) a lark and a willow – I would describe it. full to the brim with laughter and plantanes. I promise to love and cherish it forever. and thats a promise!

Wai Hung Henry Shie

Very kind and professional teaching staff! A quiet and ideal environment for study.

Justin Foster - Barham

One of the U.K.’s top Catholic schools and the resting place of St Oliver Plunket in its Abbey

Darth Dave

So good

Frequently Asked Questions

Downside School achieves consistently good academic results. In 2023, its GCSE results yielded 42% 9-7 grades and its A-Levels 38% A-grades.

A co-educational independent boarding and day school near Bath for pupils aged 11-18, selected as the top catholic independent school in the South West by the Catholic Good Schools Guide 2023.

Notable alumni include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, historian Simon Schama, and actor Hugh Bonneville. Downside alumni have also made significant contributions to the arts, sciences, and charitable organizations around the world.

In 1606 the Benedictine community of St Gregory the Great was founded at Douai, France, by a group of English and Welsh monks in exile. Eight years later they opened the School.

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