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The Downs School
Manor Crescent, Compton, RG20 6NU, UK Newbury
+44 (0)1635 270000


The Downs School is a co-educational, comprehensive school serving the scattered rural community of the Berkshire Downs and beyond. Many parents beyond the catchment area from Newbury, Thatcham and south Oxfordshire choose The Downs School in preference to others in the locality. The school has been oversubscribed for many years.

The Aims of the School
The school aims to develop in young people the capacity to live as independent, self-motivated adults and the ability to function as successful and contributing members of society. The educational programme leads pupils towards: achievement in literacy and numeracy, competence in a variety of learning and social skills, the development of a variety of sporting, artistic and practical talents to the highest level, the acquisition of social, spiritual and moral values, flexible attitudes and thus the ability to adapt to future change in modern society.

Ofsted Report 2004
"This is a very good school. Nearly all aspects are strong enabling a very good ethos. Examination results are rising and students are achieving very well. Strong links with the community, especially those concerned with the specialist language college status, offer students rich connections with the wider world. The school provides very good value for money."
Click here for summary of report

Click here for full inspection report

Policy Documents

Click here for The Downs School Publication Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act 2000


Child Development
Religious Education
Business Studies
Languages Department
Teachers' Resources
Pupils' Resources
Physical Education
Social Sciences
Media Studies
Special Needs
Resistant Materials
Travel & Tourism


The Downs School prides itself on being a caring school that nurtures the individual and where personal qualities are valued as highly as academic achievements. The pastoral organisation of the school complements and supports the work of the subject departments and cares for the well being of all pupils. The heads of year manage teams of form tutors who are responsible for day-to-day pupil welfare.

There is a code of conduct which is widely displayed around the school. This explains that pupils and staff are required to show consideration and courtesy to others al all times. There is a comprehensive system of rewards and sanctions:merit marks linked to the house system culminate in the presentation of annual prizes and awards. Detentions are set after school and at lunchtimes for those who break the school rules. All pupils are expected to conform to the school's uniform rules.

Pupils are encouraged to show initiative and take an active part in school life through charitable ventures, as prefects, members of the school council and as mentors for younger pupils


Aims of the sixth form
• To develop independent and self motivated adults who are successful and contributing members of society
• To provide a stimulating positive environment where students can pursue their academic interests and develop into happy, fulfilled and useful members of society.
• To ensure that each student is fully prepared for the transition into higher education or a career.

About the 6th Form
Attending The Downs Sixth form will be the most satisfying period intellectually and socially of most students’ school career. It bridges the gap between the period of compulsory state education and taking one’s place in the adult world.

Our Sixth Form sets a framework in which students, under the guidance of well-qualified staff, can continue the success of the school into ‘A’ level studies. Staff who have known the students for several years will be instrumental in preparing them for life after school. We can offer a quiet, well-structured environment in which to study, with a high degree of individual attention.

Students are supported by a tutor and the Head of Sixth form and benefit from close working relationships with them. Advice and guidance are given on time management and study skills and we are able to give additional time to students when they request it.

We encourage a wide range of extra curricular activities together with a wide variety of conferences and open days. We take part in an increasing range of sporting activities including matches against other Sixth forms in the area.

All students are encouraged to participate in a busy and varied social programme. The comfortable and well-equipped common room and coffee bar provide a relaxing base for Sixth Form students.

The study areas have I.T. facilities. Participation in the Sixth Form is also a challenging experience. Students are expected to apply themselves diligently to their studies to ensure that the investment in their education by the school, their families and themselves gains maximum rewards. There is a supervised study period programme in Yr 12 to encourage quiet regular study.

Students entering the Sixth Form will already have had the opportunity to discuss their plans for the future with their families, the careers service and staff. Success with these plans will require commitment.

We welcome students who want to succeed, who have a positive attitude to the Sixth Form, the school and to the community, and who are willing to work constructively with their peers and tutors. We expect students to work hard and achieve their goals, which will enable them to leave our Sixth Form with good qualifications, an informed approach to the world around them and a clear vision of their next goal in life. In return, we will work hard on their behalf so that together we can work towards their goals.

Most Downs 6th Form students go on to university and our ‘A’ level results are excellent. Last year’s pass rate was 99% with an average points score of over 300 points (using the new tariff). Our students are now studying at the country’s best universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Exeter, Liverpool, York, Durham, Nottingham, University College London, East Anglia and Imperial College.


Advanced Level Subjects

The following subjects are available at AS and/or A Level. Please click on the relevant subject to view details about the course, including entry requirements.

Art and Design

Business Studies
Design and Technology
English Literature
General Studies (AS Level Only)
Information & Communication Technology
Mathematics and Further Mathematics
Media Studies
Modern Languages (French and German)
Music Technology
Sports Studies
AVCE in Information Technology
AVCE in Travel & Tourism
GCSEs in English, Maths and Spanish


With the opening of the Graham Taylor Building the brand new Sixth Form facilities are spacious and comfortable with ample room for study, careers and higher education research, and recreation. There is a well-equipped social and kitchen area and lockers are provided. It is the collective responsibility of the Sixth Form to keep these areas clean and tidy.

There are a number of ICT suites in the 6th form centre for the use of the students. The computers are all linked to the school network and have constant Internet access.

See details of our New Building


In addition to regular departmental outings, we send a 6th Form group on a month–long World Challenge expedition once every 2 years. There is a leaver’s Ball, organised by the 6th Form Committee, in July each year. The committee also organise charity buffet lunches in the 6th Form and meet regularly to discuss student issues.

We also invite visiting speakers to the 6th form including the local MP.

Language College

Our recently acquired specialist college status in modern foreign languages enables all our pupils to study at least one language and provides opportunities to learn other languages. The vast majority of pupils learn two languages in Year 8 and 9 and an increasing number study two languages in Year 10 and 11 too. Pupils are taught about other cultures through varied curriculum enrichment activities. The funding also enables members of the wider community to benefit form language teaching. The capital grant will be used to enhance the school's facilities in language education such as video-conferencing.

Annual Events hosted by The Downs School for the community include: -

European Day – A day for Year 8 pupils from secondary schools across the county. Pupils take part in many different activities which increase their knowledge of the European Community

Multi-lingual Recruitment Day – A day for Year 11 pupils from a range of different schools. Pupils learn how useful languages are in the world of work and have the opportunity to”apply” for jobs where the would have to use a language.

Languages at Work Conference – this conference is aimed at all 6 th form students in West Berkshire who study languages. At this event students produce a range of materials in the foreign language of their choice and hear from representatives from business
Culture in the Community – This event is for our federation of primary schools. They take part in a carousel of activities from different cultures.

The Downs School also provides a programme of visits to many different countries. We have Exchange visits to France , Germany and now Spain . Sports tours are organised annually. Teams have been to Spain , Holland and in 2008 will go to Barbados ! Many other departments organise international visits too. Another exciting development is the introduction of a cultural exchange with a school in Hamburg .

The Head of ICT has made many links with schools abroad and video conferencing has proved very successful in maintaining these links.

The school regularly hosts student teachers from Oxford Brooks University and these students also benefit from participation in the many of the community events


Bienvenue! Willkommen! Benvenuti! iBievenidos!
The learning of languages has always played an important role at The Downs School. We are delighted that the school has now become a specialist language college. This is allowing us to develop an international dimension to the school and broaden the experience of many of our students. Many trips are organised annually and many pupils have continued to study languages in Higher Education.

All pupils learn French in year 7 and in addition all pupils can learn German or Spanish from year 8. All pupils now have the opportunity to study Japanese.

In Key Stage 4 all pupils continue to study a language. Pupils choose to continue with French and German or Spanish or just one of the two languages they have studied at Key Stage 3.

At 6th form level pupils can continue to study either French or German or both to A-level. Spanish is offered at GCSE level and will be offered to A-level in the future. The competence in business language certificate is offered in French.

Japanese is offered as an extra language. In 2005 we had our first GCSE entries and 2006 sees our first entries at A-S level. One student is going to spend a year in Japan as part of his gap year before going to university.

Spanish, German, French, Japanese
Course Aims

• Development of understanding of the spoken and written forms of the language in a range of contexts
• Development of the ability to communicate effectively in the language
• Development of the ability to understand the grammar of the language
• Development of the understanding and use of the culture of the language in a variety of contexts
• Development of positive attitudes towards the learning of modern foreign languages
• Provision of a suitable foundation for further study and practical study of the language(s)

Entry requirements
Students on this course are expected to have shown an interest in the learning of languages and a commitment to hard work.

Course content
GCSE Spanish
GCSE German
GCSE Japanese










All languages may be studied as an extra curricular activity.

Careers and Higher Education Opportunities

Languages at whatever level are looked on favourably by universities. Students may take a multitude of university courses with a language. Many ex-pupils have used their languages on their course or have had to re-start a language because of course demands.

A language is especially useful in careers in travel and tourism, leisure, business and many others.

Many businesses prioritise a language learner in their selection criteria.
All these languages can be continued as extra curricular activities.

We have strong links with our exchange partner schools in Moutiers , France and Boblingen , Germany . An exciting development has been the development of an exchange with a school in Spain .

The exchange to the Alps in France was started in 1987. Since then many pupils have combined their love of skiing with learning the French language.




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Students are offered an interesting, challenging and lively curriculum which encourages them to reach their academic potential. The school offers a comprehensive range of subjects across:

Key Stage 3 Years 7 to 9.
Key Stage 4 Years 10 & 11, leading to GCSEs or vocational qualifications.
Sixth Form Years 12 &13, leading to AS & A2 levels.

Physical and Religious Education are part of the curriculum. Sex education is integrated with science, religious and social studies.

There is also provision for students with special educational needs.

Key Stage 3

All National Curriculum subjects are taught and the key stage three national strategy has been successfully implemented.

Students follow a broadly based curriculum in Years 7, 8 and 9. This includes English, mathematics, science, history, geography, French, information technology, music, drama, art, technology, physical and religious education. German as a second modern foreign language is offered from Year 8. The time allocation for science is increased in Year 9.

Initially, students are taught in mixed ability groups for most subjects. From Year 8 upwards they are placed in bands or sets in English, mathematics, science and modern languages according to their ability in those subjects.


Key Stage 4
In Years 10 and 11 students study English, mathematics, double award in science, technology, physical education, religious studies, a modern foreign language and two optional subjects, leading to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). Information and communication technology is integrated into all subjects.
Optional GCSE subjects include art, business studies, child development, drama, geography, history, information and communication technology, music, physical education and religious education.

Able students are offered the opportunity of taking three separate sciences, English literature and additional mathematics.

In our most recent Ofsted report the inspectors commented that, "in examinations for the GCSE the percentages of the schools pupils who achieved five or more A* - C grades and 5 or more A* - G grades were very high by national standards. The proportion of A* - A grades awarded was also well above average."


The Sixth Form

The sixth form offers the opportunity for students to achieve success in advanced level studies, without the disruption to learning that a change of institution invariably brings.

A full range of AS and A2 level subjects are currently on offer. These courses are outlined in separate sixth form pages.

The sixth form centre is a quiet and well structured environment in which to study. There is a high degree of individual attention given to each student, from well qualified and experienced staff.

Special Educational Needs

For students who experience problems in mathematics and English, specialist individual tuition is available within and outside lessons. students with special educational needs in other areas of the curriculum receive additional staff support in the classroom.

Able students also have special educational needs. The school’s more able programme ensures that these students reach their full potential.

Further details about special educational needs can be found in the separate special needs pages.


Assessment and Reporting
Contact with parents is by reports and parents’ evenings. Parents who wish to discuss any aspect of their child’s progress may also contact the form tutor at any time.

Assessments regarding students progress are made both formally and informally on a regular basis. Internal examinations are held annually for each year group. Staff use the assessment information to monitor progress, to set targets and to guide pupils towards achieving these targets.

Ofsted commented that "The school’s systems for assessment of students' attainment and progress are very good."

Homework is regarded as an essential part of the curriculum and the development of students’ independent learning. Homework is set and marked regularly. The consistently high quality of marking of students ’ work was praised by OFSTED.

Parents monitor homework through the student handbook.


The Downs school is proud of its ordered and caring ethos and of its role in the wider community both pursued by staff and pupils. This is enhanced by the pleasant and ever improving environment, together with many opportunities for extra curricular activities. In recent years new, high quality school buildings have been added as the school has expanded.

The main school building is used for the teaching of English and religious education. The assembly hall, dining room, library with multi media facilities and offices are also located here.

The Performing Arts Centre, opened by HRH The Princess Royal in 1998, provides teaching spaces for music, rooms for instrumental practice and accommodation for peripatetic teachers. On the upper floor is the Drama Studio with dedicated stage lighting and sound equipment. The Sixth Form Centre is used exclusively by sixth form students and comprises a large common room, study area with IT facilities and classrooms for Advanced level teaching.

The Susan Pease building, completed in 1997, houses the mathematics and history departments with an ICT suite.

All science lessons are taught in laboratories in a specialist science building.

The technology building accommodates art, food and textiles technology, design and technology and an ICT suite.

The Tribe building is used for the teaching of modern foreign languages and accommodates two ICT suites with multimedia PCs. All departments have access to ICT facilities. Additionally all buildings are connected with high-speed data links to allow for increased use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the curriculum.

The school has extensive playing fields and a swimming pool. The Downland Sports Centre provides joint community and school use and enhances the range of sports on offer.


School uniform is compulsory for all pupils at the school. We expect pupils to take a pride in their appearance and if pupils are unable to wear uniform they must bring a note of explanation from home. Standard items of uniform may be bought from any shop providing they are in uniform colours and plain in design. The school badge and tie can be purchased from the school or from National Schoolwear, 13 Bartholomew St., Newbury. Pupils must not wear denim or leather indoor or outdoor clothing.

GIRLS' Uniform Games kit
Navy blue 'A' line skirt, which must be at least knee length or smart tailored trousers in either navy blue or black Navy blue or black V-neck pullover Navy blue or black blazer with school badge White shirt School tie Black or dark brown shoes – heels no higher than two inches Plain white or navy socks or natural coloured, blue or black tights Plain outdoor garment which covers the blazer White sports shirt with collar (polo shirt)* White ankle socks, house games socks, black rugby socks School rugby jersey Black shorts Predominantly white training shoes with low ankles and non-marking soles Hockey/football boots One piece swimsuit and towel Black tracksuit (optional for outdoor games) Black drill top**
BOYS' Uniform Games kit:
Plain dark grey or black trousers White sports shirt with collar (polo shirt)* White socks, house games socks, black rugby socks School rugby jersey Black shorts Predominantly white training shoes with low ankles and non-marking soles Football boots Swimming trunks and towel (no Bermuda shorts) Black tracksuit (optional for outdoor games) Black drill top**
Navy blue or black V-neck pullover
Blue or black blazer with school badge
White shirt
School tie
Black or dark brown shoes
Dark grey, black or navy socks
Plain outdoor garment which covers the blazer
Jewellery is not permitted for boys or girls, other than Medic Alert bracelets or necklaces.


* If preferred, there will be an opportunity to buy a shirt with the school badge from school. Orders will be taken on the Year 7 induction evening.
** Black drill tops may be bought from school. Orders will be taken in the summer term. Orders will be taken on the Year 7 induction evening.

In emergencies we always contact parents/guardians and always pass on information from parents to the students concerned. There is a pay telephone in the conservatory for outgoing calls.


Download Freedom of Information Policy (PDF)

Download The Downs School Code of Conduct

Click here to view our equal opportunites policy


Congratulations are extended to our former Headteacher, Graham Taylor, on being awarded the BEM for services to education in the New Year's Honours List 2007.


The science department was identified for an Ofsted subject review at the end of last term. We are delighted to say that the department was judged as outstanding in every area. This is a rare judgement and a credit to staff, students and parents.

Click here to see a copy of the letter from Ofsted.

Protecting Children on the Internet

The Downs School has been examining a scheme for protecting children whilst they are using the popular messaging and chat facilities on-line.

We recommend that all parents take a look at the information found on the web site:

We also recommend that all children look at the information at:

The costs are very reasonable considering the service being offered.


In February 2004 the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) inspected the school. The report was exceptionally good and confirmed earlier judgements about the excellent standards of teaching, learning and leadership. After the second inspection in 1998 the school was included in the list of “outstanding schools” in the 1998 Ofsted annual report. After the first inspection in 1994 The Downs School was one of only 52 in the country as “good schools with excellent examination results” in the annual OFSTED report.

Copies of the most recent inspection report may be obtained from the school office.

Destination of Year 11 Pupils 2005 Attendance 2004/2005

School Sixth Form 52.1% The total number of pupils of compulsory school age was 771. The percentage of pupil sessions (half days) missed through authorised absence was 5.5%. The percentage of pupil sessions (half days) missed through unauthorised absence was 0.2%.
Pupils going on to Further Education 15.1%
Pupils entering full time employment 9.1%

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