Downside Girls

Co-educational schools offer equal leadership opportunities for 21st-century girls.

At Downside, we aim to educate young people to develop as future leaders, and our girls make the most of every opportunity whether that involves leading the Combined Cadet Force (CCF), setting the pace in sports, or working to achieve a place to study at Oxbridge; there are no limits.

In January 2017, the Department of Education (DfE) reported that our results topped the league in the region. One national trend shows that single sex girls’ schools are outperforming co-educational schools; Downside bucks that trend by matching the national average of girls’ schools in points per A Level entry. Our focused curriculum enables girls to study Medicine and Law, or take up places to study all over the world. 

Performance at Downside School


Leadership opportunities

As a full boarding school, a huge range of activities are made available to our pupils outside the classroom, and our senior pupils are given every opportunity to develop their leadership skills by working with boys and girls of all ages. Current Head Girl, Tallulah Horton, spends time teaching Latin to pupils at a local primary school, whilst others get involved in leading musical activities or debating. 

Madeleine Prior (Isabella, 2017) took up the role of Downside’s first female Junior Under Officer (JUO) during the 2016/17 academic year. Whilst excited to be first girl in the role, given Downside’s long history as a boys’ only school, she didn’t find it surprising, ‘Our current Upper Sixth Form year group is one of the first to have more girls than boys in the CCF, which is empowering but should not be surprising…Downside produces confident women!’ 

Female CCF cadet next to tank


Originally established in 1606 as a school to educate boys, Downside has been welcoming girls for many years and finally became fully co-educational, with girls in all year groups, in 2005. Many Old Gregorians who remember the school as it was before, comment on how well-mannered and respectful pupils of both sexes are of one another. When Downside pupils finish their education, they are able to work confidently together – at university and into the workplace – as men and women.

Boarding facilities

Downside girls live in two boarding houses, Caverel and Isabella. Caverel is a house for girls aged 13-18, whilst Isabella hosts girls throughout the journey from 11-18. They are both lively, vibrant houses offering a warm welcome to new pupils. To discuss the range of accommodation, please contact our Admissions department. You can also have an informal chat with one of our Parent Ambassadors, to gain insight from our current families on what boarding life at Downside is like – please ask our Admissions team to put you in contact with someone from the right year group. 

Downside girls bedroom
‘The girls’ houses are really lovely’ (current parent)


With all of our sports facilities based within the 500-acre estate, there is no limit for our talented sportswomen who can access what they need 24/7 without need for shuttle bus travel to and from different places.  Downside has a thriving Sports department, which regularly attracts the best coaching talent in the region; during the last academic year, our girls trained with Team Bath netball stars, Sam Cook and Laura Rudland, and, in 2017/18 they embraced cricket with South African player, Alfonso Thomas.

‘The sports facilities are superb. They have the finest cricket pavilion in the country’ (current parent)

Girls at Downside take part in the key sports of Netball, Hockey and Tennis, plus additional opportunities are available in cross-country and athletics, cricket, swimming, horse-riding, golf, badminton, rounders, volleyball and much more. There is also a fully equipped gym for those who enjoy strength and conditioning, plus weekly zumba classes.

Downside Girls netball team
‘My daughter does bucketloads of sport and she absolutely loves it. They have a fantastic netball coach’ (current parent)


The standard of music at Downside has always been exceptionally high, and the School has long been renowned for the quality of its performances. As a Catholic school, sacred music is highly valued, and the Schola Cantorum choir is central to the musical life of the Abbey Church; founded over a century ago, it is the oldest Roman Catholic school choir in the UK. The pupils have the opportunity to perform in large-scale sacred works throughout the year, and there are a number of instrumental ensembles and chamber choirs for boys and girls to join during their time at the School. 

Downside girls choir
The Girls’ Chamber Choir performed with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 2016

What next?

Whatever your interests, there is something to suit you at Downside. In addition to excelling in the classroom and sports field, there are opportunities for all pupils to join societies for debating, fine dining, attend Sixth Form lectures, plus much more. 

At Downside, we also have a strong network of alumni (Old Gregorians) who will look out for you once you’ve left school. They are able to advise on work experience in almost every area and you are encouraged to make the most of these valuable connections. 

If you’re aiming high and looking to shatter the glass ceiling, we’d love to hear from you. We have Open Days throughout the year and you’d be very welcome to come for a tour of our school. Click here to learn more.  

Cooking with the monks