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School life revolves around the six Houses

The house communities are at the heart of the School and they are where lasting friendships are made and memories forged. One of our Benedictine values is “Welcome” and new pupils often comment that they are made to feel instantly at home. The pastoral care of pupils is a joint partnership between the School and parents who are invited to be part of the wider school community.

The houses are managed by House Masters and House Mistresses (HsMs) and their assistants. House parents are in houses throughout the day and on hand to help with anything from laundry and snacks to providing a kind, listening ear. All pupils have a tutor who meets them every day and monitors their pastoral, academic and co-curricular commitments. The tutors are attached to houses and spend an evening a week with the pupils in an informal setting.

Pupils are encouraged to form friendships and socialise across different houses and use social areas around the school, including a Sixth Form Common Room, social rooms, the chaplaincy rooms and, of course, our beautiful grounds for relaxing and socialising.

First, Second and Third Form boys join Powell House, before moving up to one of three senior boys’ Houses – Barlow, Roberts or Smythe. Girls join Isabella in the First Form and stay there until the end of the Upper Sixth, or they can move to Caverel for the Third Form onwards. Each one of these Houses has its own unique spirit and traditions. However, pupils integrate across the Houses and with the day pupils, who are also assigned to one of the Houses.

Our houses play a significant role in school life (and life after school). They are places of fun, happiness and relaxation following the fullest of days, but they also play an important part in understanding the real meaning of diversity, tolerance and empathy.

At Downside, having a role model and becoming a role model are both important. Both can often start in the House. This is why it is important for us that we remain a 72% boarding school. It means that, unlike many schools today, we are a seven-day-a-week community, with all that brings in terms of friendships, esprit de corps and the sense of belonging which is at the very heart of pastoral care.


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