Downside, as a leading Catholic school, maintains an ethos that is just as strong today as it was when the School was founded in 1606.
Today, we focus on eight core aspects of a Benedictine school education:
Welcome and hospitality are key elements in a school where pupils and staff work together to form a kind, mutually supportive community, based on the core principle of Christian love.
Careful, active listening is an essential part of positive human relationships, and this is emphasized at Downside, as young people are guided in how to live together within their houses and within the school community as a whole.
Reverence, as an intrinsic part of regular school worship, and as part of respect for each person’s individual human dignity, is a hallmark of life at Downside as a Benedictine school; it is part of the worship and love of God in Christ. This divine and human love draws the School into a communion whose members grow together in the love of truth and of one another. Humility enables people to live truly, communicating honestly with each other and God, enabling this love to develop.
Teaching and learning are central because of the need for our pupils to be skilled and educated people in a competitive world but also because our higher purpose is to grow in the knowledge of truth, which leads to God.
Personal discipline is something essential for the well-being of the individual and the community. It means that we are not enslaved to the world’s distractions but free to pursue higher ambitions, such as service and the pursuit of knowledge.
Downside emphasizes the importance of living within a nurturing spiritual community; concern for the individual enables groups of individuals to live and grow together in a manner that fosters human flourishing.
Harmonious community life is the consequence of building communion; while there will always be some difficulties within communities, a spiritual purpose means that communion between people and with God is made possible.
There are many gifts in human life, if people are prepared to receive them. Through the Holy Spirit, the world is made full of beauty and wisdom; the stewardship of gifts, from the natural environment to human abilities, means that the whole world can benefit.
‘The spiritual life of the monastic community permeates the very fabric of the school; this veteran of many schools had never experienced anything quite like its atmosphere. As the previous head remarked, “It would be hard to leave Downside without a sense of what a spiritual life was”.’ Good Schools Guide