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"What Makes Downside School One Of The Top Choices For Co-Ed Catholic Education?"

Introduction to Downside School: A top Catholic, co-educational independent boarding and day school nestled near Bath, catering to pupils aged 11-18 years old.

Ariel shot of Downside School Bath
Downside School near Bath

Downside Co-Ed Catholic Education 

Headmaster: Andrew Hobbs

Co-educational: Full Boarding or Day School 

Ages: 11-18 years old

Closest airport – Bristol 7 miles  

Train to London – From Bath 1.20 mins


Welcome to our journey through Downside School, a renowned institution nestled near the picturesque city of Bath, England. In this blog, we delve into the rich history, academic offerings, and unique experiences that make Downside a beacon of educational excellence.

A Legacy of Tradition

Founded in 1606, Downside School boasts a legacy steeped in tradition. It is a small, co-educational, full-boarding (and day) school in rural Somerset for 350 pupils aged 11-18. Established in 1614 by Benedictine monks in France, it moved to its present location near Bath in 1814. It is no longer run by the monks - and so welcomes pupils of any (or no) faith - but it still retains its core Catholic values of compassion, inclusivity and service to others. While it also has a reputation of academic, sporting and music excellence, Downside welcomes pupils of diverse abilities and interests, so all pupils feel valued, nurtured and celebrated. 

Pupils at Downside
Pupils at Downside

Academic Excellence at Downside School:

Downside has a strong academic record especially in Maths and Science with many pupils going on to Oxbridge and other top universities, but it is a broad academic ability school and will consider any child. Thus, with its ability to focus on nurturing each pupil which is genuinely possible in this small school, they celebrate those who achieve 3 Cs at A-Level just as much as they do those with 3 A*s. 

Downside is also known for its sporting excellence, especially in boys’ rugby and girls’ hockey and netball. It also has a stellar music department with several choirs and orchestras, and its Pipes & Drums band is one of the most celebrated in the country.  

Boarding House, Facilities and Chapel at Downside School:

Set in a beautiful campus in rural Somerset, the impressive main building surrounds a huge central courtyard. This building is the heart of the school. Not only does it house the Headmaster’s offices, library and classrooms off wonderfully long corridors, but also five of the six boarding houses. As most of the pupils therefore live and work under one roof, this fosters a tangible sense of community and collective spirit amongst pupils. Behind the main building is the stunning Abbey which, now that the monks have left, must make it one of the most impressive school ‘chapels’ in the country! Other classrooms and facilities are located in converted buildings, while the impressive theatre is distinctive in its modernity. Surrounding the school’s buildings are the school’s grounds and sports fields. Thus, the stunning architecture and rural setting must make this one of the most beautiful schools in the country. 

"One of the most beautiful schools in the country"

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond academics, Downside offers a plethora of extracurricular activities to enrich students' educational experience. Whether it's participating in sports, engaging in community service, or honing artistic talents, there's something for everyone to explore and enjoy. These activities not only foster personal growth but also cultivate leadership skills and a sense of responsibility.

Boarding Experience at Downside

Downside is very much a full-boarding school with day pupils, making this a popular choice for military and overseas parents. 78% of pupils board full time (there is no weekly boarding option) which explains why there is such an atmosphere of kindness and camaraderie amongst them all. However, day pupils are absorbed into a boarding house – they even get their own room - and are involved in all activities (including at weekends if they wish) so there is no day/boarder dichotomy here. It also explains why so many pupils thrive here who have struggled elsewhere. The school’s ethos means that all pupils are welcomed, cherished and celebrated for who they are, by peers as well as staff.

Downside asks pupils - How do I use my gifts to help others?

A Global Community

With students hailing from diverse backgrounds and cultures, Downside prides itself on being a global community that celebrates diversity and inclusivity. Through meaningful interactions and cultural exchange, students learn to appreciate different perspectives and develop lifelong friendships that transcend.

Dinning Hall At Downside
Dinning Hall At Downside

Faith-Based Values:

Rooted in tradition, Downside School Co-Ed Catholic School emphasises spiritual development and moral values, but you don't have to be Catholic to attend, the school is open to people of all faiths. They promote a supportive and inclusive ethos based on positive values of community and service.

"A distinctive school that holds to the fact that each individual is unique and valued in this creative world."

Conclusion Downside Co-Ed Catholic Education:

Boy play organ at downside
Organist in Downside

Overall, Downside is a wonderfully small, inclusive school where all pupils are accepted and celebrated for being themselves. We were struck not only by the wonderful architecture and buildings but particularly by the inclusive, respectful culture. Whether between pupils of different year groups, pupils and staff or even pupils and headmaster, this school lives up to its Catholic - small ‘c’ as well as big ‘C’ - principles and values of kindness, inclusivity and service to others. Ultimately, Downside produces grounded, happy pupils who are confident in who they are, considerate of others and want to make a difference to the world.  

Downside School Co-Ed Catholic Education provides a compelling option for prospective parents seeking a traditional yet supportive educational setting. If you are interested in finding out more about Downside School please click here to get in touch with one of our advisors

Watch our insightful interview with Downside School Headmaster, Mr Andrew Hobbs discuss co-ed Catholic Education in a creative, modern world.

Leading boarding school advice from our education consultants

Here at The Independent Education Consultants, we know that making the decision to go to boarding school can sometimes be a difficult one. It can be hard to know which school is the right fit for your child. However, our education consultants will work alongside you and your family to discover which school will help your child achieve their true potential. If you require advice about Downside or have any other boarding school questions, please contact our friendly team of education experts today.

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