British boarding schools are renowned for their world-class teaching and instilling values that will serve students well into university life and beyond. Downside School, however, is one such school in England that offers students all that and more.
As a distinguished Catholic school, we nurture curious minds and also offer students stellar pastoral care to ensure they have the necessary attention and support for their holistic development.
Further attesting to our prowess in this area is the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) — an organisation responsible for inspecting independent schools in England — who described our arrangements for pastoral care as “excellent”.
“The attention placed on providing excellent support and guidance for all pupils is outstanding,” it said in a report.
What is pastoral care?
Pastoral care can be described as “support for and commitment to enhancing the social, emotional, physical and moral wellbeing of all members of their School community.”
Historically, pastoral care is an ancient Christian model of emotional and spiritual support that paid particular attention to the care for the soul.
Since its ancient origins, however, pastoral care has spanned across many cultures and traditions. In traditional Catholicism, pastoral care is considered the responsibility of all the baptised and understood in the most basic sense as helping others.
Pastoral care involves supporting and encouraging pupils physically, emotionally and spiritually, and simultaneously striving to create and maintain a Benedictine community where students feel happy, secure, confident, and, above all, valued for who they are.
Downside’s commitment to pastoral care
At Downside, we use a whole-school approach to pastoral care, resulting in an atmosphere conducive to learning and promoting tolerance, resilience, inclusivity, fairness, and equal opportunities for all.
Our professional staff are experienced in welcoming pupils from different corners of the world. Currently, we have 33 nationalities represented at the School, bringing with them their own cultural identities to share with new friends and a willingness to embrace British culture.
Our esteemed team within the Downside community also has a specific role in guiding, nurturing, and supporting pupils. This comes in many forms, from listening and comforting students to spiritually guiding or by providing pupils with nutritious and delicious meals that Downside is famous for!
The School’s idyllic location is also a large part of its appeal.
Downside is set in 500 acres of the glorious English countryside with plenty of space for students to learn and grow. The School’s beauty and tranquillity will have a positive effect on your child’s wellbeing.
Unparalleled pastoral support
Be it from academic, emotional, physical to medical support, Downside is fiercely proud of the 360° of pastoral care that we collectively provide for all pupils. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our boarding houses.
As a seven-day-a-week boarding school, our pupils require around the clock support, guidance, care and parental understanding. The day doesn’t stop with the bell signalling the last lesson of the day — we continue to provide ongoing care beyond the classroom too.
The House structure has been carefully developed to care for pupils at every stage of their time at Downside and to provide them with the opportunity to form lifelong friendships and grow in self-confidence and resilience.
Boarding at Downside enables pupils to learn to live alongside and support each other with a spirit of compassion and understanding. This naturally encouraging environment, guided by our dedicated boarding staff who are on hand at every hour of the day or night, has resulted in an atmosphere that has become a home away from home for pupils.
It’s not just boarding pupils who feel this warmth and camaraderie — day pupils are equally warmly welcomed and supported within our boarding houses and are able, and even encouraged, to stay after the working day to do their prep, have supper and participate in activities with the boarders.
Our pastoral care also takes up a strong residence in the spiritual world. We have a full-time Chaplaincy team who are on hand to lead and nurture our pupils’ Catholic understanding and spirituality via prayer, retreats, house masses and reconciliation services.
Our Chaplains play a key part in Downside’s functioning and serve the wellbeing of our School — for both current and past pupils and families.
Helping students reach their potential
Effective pastoral care is also linked to academic engagement and success.
Each year, our pupils go on to achieve hugely impressive results for both their academic and non-academic endeavours. This is reflected in their excellent GCSE and A levels results, in making the sports teams, forging remarkable friendships, experiencing new activities for the first time to securing coveted spots at world-renowned universities.
All this goes back to the unique environment that we have created here at Downside.
Ultimately, the various forms of support at Downside provide students with the confidence to try something new – and most importantly – without the fear of failure.
If your interest is piqued, click here for details on Downside School’s international students’ admission process.