Somerset, United Kingdom
About Downside School
A clear and positive attitude to learning permeates the whole school, enabled by excellent relationships between staff and pupils’ and that our pupils are ‘enthusiastic and highly motivated learners, able to work independently’. Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI)
At Downside, we are committed to working in partnership with families and to providing an environment which nurtures young people of integrity who can think for themselves, stand up for their beliefs, and act to make a positive difference in the world.
Founded in 1606 and based just 25 minutes from the famous World Heritage City of Bath, we are a forward-thinking independent school and one of England's oldest and most distinguished Catholic schools. Our vision is to be a bright light in the world of education, illuminating the lives of young people and inspiring service in the world through experience of Benedictine culture. It enables pupils and staff to develop their own identity through experience of a community with Christ as its centre.
The School is set in 500 acres of beautiful English countryside with extensive facilities including an indoor swimming pool, a Mac Suite dedicated to music, a 24/7 Health Centre, and a Performing Arts Centre housing a 400-seat Theatre, a Recording Studio, a print screen room and a Mac suite for art.
We are uncompromising in the pursuit of academic excellence. We aim for the highest standards in our extensive and exciting co-curricular programme with over 100 activities, and we provide plentiful and varied opportunities for service and leadership.
The School endeavours, in addition, to provide our pupils with what may be referred to as a sense of ‘the poetry of life’, a sense of its beauty, form, mystery and joy. Everyone who comes here remarks on the happy atmosphere. It is truly a remarkable, inspiring place.
Please visit our website to find out more about our School: www.downside.co.uk/working-with-us
TEACHING AT DOWNSIDE
Working at Downside is a truly rewarding experience. In keeping with our Benedictine ethos, Downside is a welcoming, caring community where each person is considered to be a valued member. Pupils are highly motivated, keen to learn and respectful of staff and their peers.
Our Induction Programme is comprehensive and fully supportive of all new staff, including the provision of training, where necessary. We are keen to support ambitious teachers, and CPD opportunities for individuals are identified in Faculty Development Plans and prioritised. Downside is a member of the Canford Group, which includes most of the main independent schools in the South West, and this is an ideal way to establish links with other schools. We are also closely linked with the other Benedictine schools in England and Ireland. We expect all teachers to engage fully in co-curricular activities and the boarding life of the school.
At Downside, staff enjoy teaching polite and well-educated pupils, unique surroundings, and benefit from a generous salary scale, complimentary lunch and extended School holidays. Although it is difficult to quantify the hours which any individual Teacher may devote to their work in order to carry out their professional duties in a boarding school, the following guidance may be helpful.
The School timetable includes five 70 minute periods Monday-Friday, and two 70 minute periods on Saturday morning, plus a 35 minute period of SMSC, followed by matches and activities in the afternoon. Games and activities, tutor periods, and hymn practice are incorporated into the weekly timetable. Department meetings can occur at the discretion of the Head of Faculty.
Academic timetable allocation:
Full time Teacher 15 periods
Head of Faculty 13 periods
Pastoral responsibilities; to provide support and guidance for a tutor group (typically 12 pupils), including one period (35 minutes) of SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) Development and three tutor sessions, 17.00-17.20 on Monday (all pupils) and Wednesday and 13.30-13.50 (1st to 5th Form), Thursday during the working day (6th Form only) and on 13.30-13.50 Friday (all pupils). SMSC Development has a specific programme and is treated the same as an academic lesson.
All tutors attend Hymn Practice on Friday at 14.00 and School Mass on special occasions during the working week. Each tutor is assigned to one of the boarding houses and will be on duty one evening per week (19.20-21.30).
Co-curricular responsibilities: A full time Teacher has 7 periods (Saturday afternoon counts as 3). This may include activities and/or sport, and Teachers may be asked to support a specialist coach in games lessons and be responsible for the team when they play matches.
We provide our employees with opportunities to develop professionally and aim to maintain high standards of performance. We apply employment policies that are fair, equitable and consistent with the skills and abilities of our employees and the needs of the School.
“There is an atmosphere at Downside which I have not encountered anywhere else; A feeling of family, teamwork and respect. The pupils are courteous, friendly and look out for one another with a sense of community and togetherness. The theme of community persists throughout the school and there is the real feeling that staff and students are standing together and working as one for the benefit of all. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else!”- I Ramsden, Head of Computing and e-Safety
“When I first joined Downside, I immediately noticed how welcoming people were. The pupils would hold doors open, ask how my day was (with genuine interest) and thank me for the lesson/time invested into them. After three years, this hasn’t disappeared and I still consider myself lucky to work in an environment with such lovely, polite young people. Within the staff body, there is support whenever asked for and often a feeling of camaraderie which isn’t to be taken for granted. My experience with the PE and Games department is to strive towards challenging each other in a team environment when we have a common outcome - what is best for the pupils. We work hard, play hard and we love a challenging discussion!”- E Chapman, Head of Girls’ Games / Head of Netball
This is the fourth school I’ve worked in and, by quite a margin, it has the friendliest, most welcoming and helpful common room of them all. Add to that the well-behaved, biddable pupils, excellent food and glorious buildings, and you see why Downside is such a fantastic place to work.- J McNamara, Director of Music
I have such a wide range of activities that I undertake and the pupils and staff with which I interact mean that every day is different and very fulfilling. At Downside I can educate pupils above and beyond the curriculum in Geography and share my passion for different areas of this wide and varied subject. This has culminated in some exciting fieldtrips including this year’s visit to Iceland. I have also been able to introduce Ultimate Frisbee to the School, take pupils out on Cross-Country runs across the beautiful Mendip Hills, and teach pupil survival skills in the Combined Cadet Force. Downside looks a little like J K Rowling’s ‘Hogwarts’, with pupils zooming from stair case to stair case, but it has a calmness that belies the hardworking nature of the pupils.- O Simper, Head of Faculty