Q&A fact file Downside


What percentage of the total on roll are boarders?

At Downside, 75% of our pupils are full boarders, which as a figure, certainly speaks for itself. Every one of our boarders enjoys an outstanding level of pastoral support, a strong sense of community and quality time with their friends, outside of the timetabled routine. Weekends are full, busy and purposeful with a whole host of activities available to cater for different age groups and interests. There really is never a dull moment at our welcoming Somerset boarding school.

Do pupils wear uniform all the time?

The Downside uniform is very popular with pupils: everyone adores the thick woollen blazers, with boys in traditional pinstripe trousers and girls in a popular tartan kilt or, optionally for the Sixth Form, pinstripe trousers. Prefects wear waistcoats which are handmaid by our seamstress – a tradition that goes back centuries. At weekends, from Saturday evening, and weekday evenings pupils can wear their own clothes.

What happens after lessons have finished for the day?

Enjoying time outside of classes together is fundamental for healthy friendships to be forged - Downside School nurtures friendships that last a lifetime. Wrap-around-care enables independence to blossom within all our students, encouraged by excellent pastoral care. Years 7 and 8 pupils have their own weekday evening programme in place, to ensure they are fully engaged after their prep and evening meal. Pupils are given the opportunity to experience and try amazing activities that they may not have the chance to at a day school. Our students are also free to utilise our extensive facilities in the evenings and weekends alongside completing their academic work. The weekend activity programme ranges from paintballing and go-karting, trips to museums and theme parks, cycling and walks. Adventure activities include mountain biking, caving and climbing, to name but a few.

Can my child have a room of their own?

As one of the remaining traditional full boarding schools in the UK, Downside School life revolves around six boarding houses; when a pupil arrives, they will be assigned to one of these Houses. First, Second and Third Form boys join Powell House, before moving up to one of three senior boy's Houses; Barlow, Roberts or Smythe. The two girl’s Houses have pupils that go all the way through from Year 7 to Year 13. Each one of these Houses has its own unique spirit and traditions. Pupils have their own rooms from Year 11.

Can I be sure my child will excel academically?

We are uncompromising in the pursuit of academic excellence; a stellar set of A levels is, in many cases, the ‘price of entry’ into the best universities, here and abroad. It is no surprise that the vast majority of our pupils gain entry to their first choice of university, and a gratifying number of them achieve First Class Honours at their chosen place of study. We have been shown to significantly add value to entry level assessments and our system of a dedicated tutor for each pupil ensures that progress is steady and sustainable. Each week, time is set aside within the School timetable for valuable co-curricular activities to enhance your child’s journey.

What makes your school special?

The Benedictine ethos at Downside underpins all aspects of the School and the Catholic faith is central to a Downside pupil’s education. Indeed, during the School’s last ISI inspection it was observed that “pupils’ excellent personal development draws clearly on the School’s Benedictine ethos, a strong sense of community and excellent pastoral care. Pupils respect each other’s views and seek to meet the needs of others.” It is this ethos and development of personal values that makes a boarding school life at Downside so valuable. We follow and nurture each pupil’s journey throughout their time within our community and as they continue to flourish in their lives beyond our school gates.

Questions answered by Claire Low, Director of Admissions & Marketing