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Downside supports freedom of speech and encourages the free exchange of ideas. Formalised discussion and debate take place with genuine toleration of opposing views. Both liberal and catholic, Downside provides a safe place to engage in serious examination of sometimes difficult and current issues in a structured way.

Abingdon Society Lectio Divina Group Model United Nations (MUN)
History Society Medical Society Wallingford & Scientific Reading Society
Knowles Society Mock Trial Club World of Maths a.k.a. Maths Magic

The Abingdon Society

The Downside Abingdon Society is the oldest debating society of any school in the country. It provides a forum for pupils to discuss topical and pertinent issues at an intellectual level and is ideal preparation for any aspiring university candidate. The society is available for Fourth to Sixth Form pupils.

The benefits of debating are numerous, not only in terms of pure academics but also in young people’s engagement with the wider world: debating can help to improve critical thinking skills, boost self-confidence, develop complex cognitive abilities and increase information retention.

Supporting our pupils to have a voice and truly listening to what they say are a key part of life at Downside. We believe that all our pupils should have a platform from which to express themselves and to stand up for what they believe in. Debating is just one way this can happen.

The Medical Society

At Downside a Medical Society is available for Sixth Formers committed to investigating medical issues and ethics. The society provides a forum for discussions to help with interview practice, and in the Lower Sixth to ensure interested pupils are aware of the challenges of UKCAT and BMAT. There is an annual conference organised for both Downside and outside pupils to practise the range of different skills needed at interviews.

To support the medical society there is an Anatomy Club that is open to all ages. This consists of weekly online seminars and activities hosted by a pair of doctors who go through the different organ systems, looking at case studies and sharing their experiences.

Read more about our provision for Aspiring Medics

The Wallingford Society

The Wallingford Society is a science society open to all. This year we are focussing on a series of online lectures from the New Scientist. Each week we watch and discuss a lecture.

The topics have varied greatly from the science of climate change and exploring the deep seas, through the design flaws in the human body, can fish count and why do wasps’ matter, to black holes and physics experiments that changed the world.

The aim is to give pupils an insight into the varied life and opportunities provided by studying science, as well as giving them a flavour of some of the big questions that go beyond the syllabus and classroom.

The Knowles Society

The Knowles Society for the Lower 6th Form has been in existence for over 20 years. It offers selected pupils a weekly place to discuss topics of interest either through pupil essays on topics beyond the taught curriculum which are then delivered to the group, or through stimulus material on chosen topics of interest to the group. Over the years it has provided many excellent examples of scholarly stimulus and generated a sense of intellectual endeavour, where ideas are savoured for their own sake. Current topics include the cycle of violence, whether humans are basically good, the philosophical ideas of speciesism, immortality, and ideas of political and sexual freedom.

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