Headteacher Blog 17.10.19

Posted on: 17th Oct

It has been a busy six weeks of the autumn term, with a number of events taking place at school and in the local community.  Our 23 Downland Alliance trainee teachers have all settled in well and are making their mark working in the classrooms across 13 local secondary and primary schools. We are positive we have selected a skilled group who will continue working within the Federation when they qualify next summer. Our Assistant Headteacher, Karen McDowell who manages the programme said: “I really enjoy working with the trainees, particularly seeing the enthusiasm and commitment they bring to the programme. It will also be beneficial to the profession as a whole, and the children they teach, that our current learners bring with them a wealth of professional experience from their previous employment in a variety of different industries. I am also looking forward to our next ‘Train to teach’ event at The Downs School on 4 November.”

Back at school, the recent Open Evening was a great event, the school filled with Rising Year 7s and their parents touring our facilities and taking part in a variety of interactive displays and experiments across the different subjects. Many parents were very complimentary about the evening, and I was particularly proud to hear their comments about the calibre of our students. Whether it was those leading tours around the building, the talented musicians, dancers and drama enthusiasts performing to parents, or the many students who helped across the subject areas, they were excellent ambassadors for the school. From speaking with some of those students, I know that they were delighted to share their knowledge about the school and it really came across how proud they are to be a Downs School student.

Elsewhere, the money is continuing to come in from the sponsored walk. This year’s event marked the 10th anniversary of our key fundraiser and as always, it was an enjoyable afternoon. The weather was thankfully kind to us and the enthusiasm shown by the students, and their incredible fancy dress costumes – including a Year 7 contingent of Where’s Wallys and our Science teachers dressed as Disney Princes and Princesses - was heart-warming to see.

In the middle of September, we, alongside other secondary and primary schools in the area, highlighted a selection of artwork in the Education tent at The Royal County of Berkshire show. Working within the designated theme of ‘Environmental Art,’ we had an impressive display from our talented GCSE and A Level students, which included watercolour and acrylic painting, woodwork and sculpture.

Our Sixth Form students have recently taken the initiative in organising an ‘environmental week’, working alongside Student Voice and our school Eco Group. Events took place across the week including a talk from the organiser of the Hampstead Norreys GreenFest event about being more sustainable and environmentally friendly. An eco-bricks workshop where students learned about how to recycle single use plastic waste from the environment was also well received, and we plan to incorporate this method of recycling to produce new benches around the school in the near future.

What all these events have clearly demonstrated is how incredibly conscientious, resourceful, forward thinking and extremely talented our students are. Whilst teaching the basic skills and subject matter is the fundamental duty of a teacher, it is identifying and nurturing the special talents of students and seeing these grow and blossom that is one of the greatest joys of teaching.

We have recently put together a ‘Success in the Community’ board which celebrates our students successes, and whilst there are too many to mention individually, we have talented musicians playing in national orchestras, a gold medal winning Decathlete at County level, national motocross riders, European golfers and British karate champions.

At The Downs School, we ensure that our students leave here with a well-rounded learning experience and are able to venture into the rapidly changing world with confidence and determination. I hope you will agree with me, that we are not only achieving our aims, we are exceeding them.




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