Downe House School

schools outside of london

Boarding at Downe House is different to boarding at most other schools. In many other places, a significant number of boarding students go home over the weekend, whereas at Downe House, most stay at school. Day boarders are expected to take part in all activities, so there are late evenings when they stay overnight. Students are sometimes in school on Saturdays and even Sundays.

School information

Downe House School is an independent girls’ day and boarding school for girls aged 11-18. The school was founded in 1907 and is based in Cold Ash, a village near Newbury, Berkshire.

In 2018, 84.6% of grades at GCSE were A*/A and 59.9% of A Level/Pre-U grades were A*/A/D1/D2 and almost 87% of the girls were accepted into their first-choice university.

With such a full-on schedule, it’s a good thing that the girls are well looked after. The teachers manage pressure and do well to help students achieve great academic results, while still providing excellent pastoral care. Outside of the classroom, there are plenty of things for the girls to do. Students speak fondly about the term spent in France and there is a long list of co-curricular activities for the girls to look forward to back at school. Downe House does an excellent job of providing the girls with the opportunity to explore and improve in anything they want, whether that be in music, drama or sports.


Around fifty girls are admitted each year at Downe House and entry is at 11+, 12+ and 13+. The assessment includes a number of activities, which can range from drama games to design technology. Girls also attend an interview with the headmistress and complete an academic task. Successful candidates are then required to sit Common Entrance exams, which are sat at your daughter’s current school. Your daughter may also be invited sit the scholarship paper, depending on the results of the assessment day. Candidates for entry at 16+ are required to sit three exams. This consists of a Downe House general paper and then two subjects that the student will be studying at sixth form. At a minimum, candidates are required to achieve at least seven (I)GCSE at Grade B/6 or above and A/7 or above in the subjects they wish to study. As with all schools, it’s important to attend the open days at Downe House to ensure that the education here will be a good fit for your daughter. Take into consideration the school’s busy schedule and decide whether its right for you. Inevitably, the school is highly selective. Downe House places much emphasis on group assessment and the interview stage, so it’s important they remain relaxed and ready for whatever is thrown at them on the day. For the written exams, it would be safe to say that your daughter should be ahead of the national average. This is not just for the exams but to ensure they will enjoy and make the most of their time at Downe House. Start preparation early and keep it consistent so that your daughter not only improves her grades but also learns to exhibit the confidence and independence the school is looking for.