In January we were joined by Year 5 and 6 pupils from St Julian’s Church School near Bath for a day of detecting.

Their mission? To find out who ‘stole’ a much-loved Downside trophy from the cabinet in the Aylward Room. Using a mixture of physical and digital forensic techniques, the pupils were able to piece together the evidence and recover the trophy. In the course of doing this, they also used what they termed as ‘other’ – evidence they collated from suspects’ behaviour and comments.

The day began with an introduction to the ‘suspects’ and then a visit to the crime scene. Pupils surveyed the evidence and catalogued it into physical and digital evidence. They then split into two groups – one examined and decoded the digital evidence in the Computer Science lab with Head of Computing Mr Ramsden. The other took the physical evidence with Science teacher Mrs Alcantara to one of the Biology labs.

The digital forensics included using Caesar’s cipher to decode a message left by the perpetrator. The physical forensics included hair analysis, pen chromatography and fingerprint analysis – all from evidence found at the scene. After lunch, a brief tour of the Abbey Church and a sports taster session, the groups swapped so that both had a chance to review and explore the different types of forensics available.

We are pleased to announce that the trophy was recovered and the ‘perpetrator’ has been reprimanded!

The Downside Forensic Detectives day is one of our feeder school events for prep and primary schools. Others include CCF Outdoor Adventure, Choral, Languages, Art, Sports, Science Challenge, Musical Theatre and Jr Debating.

Prep and primary schools visit us from Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire to take part in these exciting activities for pupils to try their hand at something new or progress something they are already interested in. For example, young choral scholars get the chance to perform in the magnificent setting (and wonderful acoustics) of Downside Abbey Church, and adventurous types can try their hand at archery and go on CCF patrol in the glorious grounds of the School.