In the summer of 2014, Downside welcomed a new Head Master, Dr James Whitehead, the first lay Head in the School’s history.
Downside has for a long time been recognised for its strong sense of community, and is proud of its exceptional pastoral care for all pupils. The majority of Downside pupils are full-weekly boarders, and just under a quarter of the current intake are international students. Downside has six boarding houses, each run by the resident House Master/Mistress who is ably assisted by a Deputy, House Mothers, a dedicated team of Tutors and the Chaplaincy Team. A full programme of activities is organised for boarders at weekends. 24-hour care is provided to pupils by trained nursing staff at The School Health Centre.
The School has a thriving academic life to stretch the brightest pupils to their limits, while structured support is provided for the less able. Downside’s skilled educators are fair in setting ambitious targets to encourage pupils to aspire to the highest academic standards and discover intellectual interests that will remain with them for a lifetime. Year group subject societies, academic Societies, field trips and overseas trips encourage the development of interests far beyond the demands of the National Curriculum and preparation for examinations.
With the outstanding examination results pupils gain at Downside, a large percentage of students continue to read subjects at Russell Group universities and at prestigious mainland European and American universities.
Arts, sports and co-curricular activities
All boys and girls are expected to participate in at least several of the exceptionally wide range of co-curricular activities offered. There are generous time slots for activities, clubs and societies, as well as music, sport and drama, on every weekday afternoon. Moreover, an extensive range of activities are organised outside the formal co-curricular times. Downside is especially well-known for the quality of its sport and music.
Some of the facilities at the School include a stunning theatre, large art studios, sports hall complex with fitness rooms, indoor heated swimming pool, glass-backed squash courts and a gymnasium. Downside has 100 acres of playing fields, as well as netball and tennis courts and an all-weather hockey pitch.
“Pupils are extremely well educated both inside and outside the classroom.” ISI Inspection Report 2013