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High School Pathways
Boarding School Preparation Programme

Key information

Start dates:
3 September 2017, 8 January and 17 April 2018
Autumn term, 2017: 3 Sept – 14 Dec (half-term 20 – 31 October)
Spring term, 2018: 8 Jan – 23 March (half-term 9 – 18 February)
Summer term, 2018: 17 Apri – 29 June (half-term 26 May - 3 June)
Course length:
1–3 terms
Class size range:
Average 6-10
45 lessons per week, spilt between English and academic subjects as required.

Entry requirements

Kings Entrance Test pass for English and Maths
Kings Entrance Test pass
Age ranges:
11 – 15

The programme

The Boarding School Preparation Programme is designed to prepare students for academic success at Downside School. With 24-hour supervision from trained staff, it provides the perfect bridge between school in the student's home country and the academic expectations at Downside School.

The programme combines English language development, academic subjects and general study skills. Students are placed in sets according to age and language ability. The combination of language and academic subject development will be tailored to the needs of each student.

The standard programme length is one Academic Year. All students who are ready to progress to Downside School at the end of the Academic Year may do so, subject to meeting the admissions criteria.

In the rare case that a student needs additional preparation they are able to study for longer. Equally, depending on age, academic ability and language level, students may study for a shorter length of time, entering the Programme at different times throughout the year.

Students wishing to return home and not progress onto Downside School can follow the programme for 1 – 3 terms as a boarding school taster programme.

Learning outcomes

Successful completion of the Boarding School Preparation Programme to the standard required leads directly to main Downside School entry.

The flexible nature of the Boarding School Preparation Programme also enables progression to schools other than Downside.

See Other progression options for more information.

Content and structure of the programme

English language development

Up to 15 lessons per week will be devoted to language tuition leading to recognized external language examinations. This component is designed to provide students with the intellectual and linguistic skills required for effective academic study.

Academic subjects

As language levels increase, so the focus switches to teaching main academic subjects appropriate to age and aptitude.

Sample academic subjects include:

  • British Culture
  • Drama
  • Creative Arts
  • English
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • General Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Information Technology
  • PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education)
  • Specialist Sciences (Biology, Physics and Chemistry)

Academic Enrichment Programme

The Academic Enrichment Programme forms an important part of the Boarding School Preparation Programme. It includes creative arts, physical education, and PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) to develop personal and social skills. Students are able to join in selected activities with main School students, subject to timetable and age considerations. They are also able to partake in extracurricular options at additional cost such as private music lessons and LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Drama) programmes.

General study skills

Small classes provide the ideal personalised environment for students to develop the broad study skills they will need at the main School. These include personal time management and the effective expression of ideas and opinions.

Lessons with main school students

Selected lessons and activities will also be planned alongside main Downside School pupils. These will include arts and music plus some sporting activities. Students will have access to the main School science labs and art studio at selected times.

Supervised prep

Prep is an important element of the Programme. There are set times for prep within the International Study Centre, with teachers actively supervising prep time supporting students in their work outside class.

Progress monitoring and reporting

Progress monitoring and reporting forms a crucial aspect of the Programme. Mid-term progress letters from the form tutor will be sent to parents or guardians. Students will be assessed formally at the end of each term and results of this assessment together with subject and boarding reports will be sent to parents or guardians. Reports will include individual assessments of progress, attainment and behaviour.

The International Study Centre at Downside School uses a similar system of merits and rewards as employed at the main School.