Downe House Global Academy

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Downe House

Global Academy

An Outstanding British Academic Experience A pathway to the future


Mrs Emma McKendrick

Headmistress of Downe House School Dear students and parents, We are thrilled to be launching our Downe House Global Academy for the intellectually ambitious students around the world. This holistic programme finds no parallel globally, and we are very excited to be offering this pioneering ‘blended learning experience’ to our Founding Families and students. The Downe House Global Academy programme will reflect, in its features, everything that Downe House stands for, and in particular, its belief in the importance of balancing tradition and academic rigour on the one hand with innovation on the other, including the use of technology to create truly boundaryless communities of young learners. We look forward to getting to know and working with our Founding Families and supporting students on their global academic journeys.

Mrs Emma McKendrick Headmistress

Global Academy


Ms Marya Akhtar

Academic Head, Downe House Global Academy After completing my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Economics, I went on to complete my PGCE from the University of London. Having taught Economics in the independent sector for a number of years, both in the UK and abroad, I moved into Higher Education Management and completed my Post Graduate COA course in Guidance from Homerton College, University of Cambridge. I have recently completed an executive course in Digital Disruption at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. At Downe House, I oversee a strong team guiding students on university entrance, both in the UK and overseas, with a particular emphasis on entry into Ivy League and Russell Group universities, internship placements and guidance on selecting subjects for I/GCSEs and A Levels. We deliver a carefully curated World Ready Programme that, not only nurtures strong academics but also focuses on honing their soft skills namely leadership, teamwork, metacognitive and employment skills required by industry. In 2013, I had the privilege of representing Downe House, which was chosen to be one of the four advisers on a project commissioned by Lord Sainsbury for the Department of Education, Government of UK, for the purpose of creating the Gatsby Benchmarks for schools in the UK. For the past 6 years, I have been developing various Global Educational Programmes at

Downe, which have become one of our unique selling points within the independent boarding sector. A particular highlight is the bespoke DH Global Schools’ Exchange Programme that we have set up with 15 partner schools in 5 continents. My roles require me to collaborate with educational institutions and a variety of industry partners to enhance the learning of students, both globally and at home. The work I have undertaken with schools, universities, employers and companies at home and abroad, has increasingly highlighted to me the need for and the impact of digital disruption in our sector, and the challenges we face in catering to the ever-evolving needs and expectations of learners across the world. I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to lead the Downe House Global Academy and, as a firm supporter of globalisation, I am looking forward to extending our unique and holistic style of teaching, learning and guidance to students around the world. The aim of this programme is not only to hone academic critical thinking skills in our young learners, but to afford them the right exposure and equip them with the knowledge and confidence required to gain entrance to a top boarding school or one of the top universities around the world.

Global Academy

Headmistress Mrs Emma McKendrick Director of Higher Education and Global Initiatives Ms Marya Akhtar

School Profile 2021-2022 Downe House is one of the top three independent all-girls boarding schools in the UK and one where each individual in the community matters. Although Downe House is at the forefront of education for girls, we achieve the best grades without adopting a ‘hot house’ approach. The School believes in helping girls not only achieve excellent academic results, but also be at the forefront of Sport, Art, Drama and Music. Our girls represent England in Lacrosse, perform plays at Stratford upon Avon, sing at St Paul’s Cathedral, join charitable projects in Cambodia, get recruited by Sotheby’s and study at the top universities of the world like Harvard and Oxford with equal ease. The School is set on a 110 acre estate in Cold Ash, Berkshire, We foster a caring community enabling our girls to build strong relationships with their peers and staff alike. Our ethos is one where everyone in our community has respect for one another and we aim to help our girls become independent learners and aspirational young women who are World Ready. COMBINED A LEVEL AND PRE-U SUCCESS





Politics and International Relations



Creative or Performing Arts

Economics and Management


84% A*-A DI-D3

Global Academy

A*/ D1-D2


98% A*-B DI-M2 A/D3


B/ M1-M2




89% 9-7 (A*-A)

96% 9-6 (A*-B) 9-8 (A*)


7 (A)


6 (B)


5-3 (C-E)


Course Convener

Dr Andy Atherton, PhD, MA, BA (Hons)

After completing a BA in English Literature at the University of Lancaster, I was able to secure a highly competitive Arts and Humanities Research Council scholarship for a Masters in English Literature and I then secured this same scholarship for a PhD in twentieth century literature. During this time, as well as presenting at various international conferences, I was heavily involved in the teaching of undergraduate English Literature students across all three year groups and it was here that I realised my interest lay most powerfully in teaching literature. During my time at Downe House School, I have held various roles related to teaching English, including KS3 co-ordinator, but I have also played a crucial role in developing and leading our Oxbridge Programme. This involves leading a group of expert subject specialists to help prepare Downe House students for entry to the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge or Medical School. I myself directly lead our provision for English Literature, and indeed I’m very proud of our enviable record for English Literature admissions!

of Music, one on Gender Economics, or one on the Sonnet. In both the Elective Programme and the Global Academy, the importance and value of inculcating a love of learning for its own sake is one of the most significant contributions we can make to the lives of our students. Beyond the classroom, I also maintain a very active role in the wider community of English teaching. I regularly publish articles for various venues on teaching literature as well as wider educational matters, including in English Review, National Association for Teaching English, English and Media Centre, and Teach Secondary. This has also involved delivering presentations and professional training for other schools, English teachers, and at educational conferences. I am very excited to be part of the Downe House Global Academy and look forward to sharing my love of literature with my students.

I have also helped to develop our bespoke Downe House Elective Programme, which offers girls in Year 10, Year 11 and Year 12 the opportunity to undertake six week courses, or Electives, in a wide range of fascinating areas of study beyond the curriculum. This might include, for instance, an Elective on the Physics

Literature & Public Speaking Global Academy

Course Convener

Orla Cahill, BA (Hons), QTS

My interest in world events and current affairs led me to a degree in Economics, Politics and International Relations from University College, Dublin. Upon completing my degree, I entered the world of investment banking and witnessed first-hand the devastation of the financial crisis of 2008. I followed my passion for Economics with a change in career and I became an Economics and Business teacher with a goal of enhancing students’ knowledge of the world around them. I have extensive experience in the academic, pastoral and management areas in the independent school sector. During my teaching career, I have been Head of Economics and Business at two of the leading girls’ independent schools in England. My role as Head of Department at Downe House included delivering excellent lessons that both engage and inspire students, preparing students for examinations, overseeing the university application process, and creating and marking written assessment and scholarship papers. As an Oxbridge mentor, I am proud to have helped numerous students secure a place to read Economics and Management and PPE and thoroughly enjoyed my role in stretching students’ knowledge and critical thinking. Elements of the Oxbridge process are incorporated into our courses, where students are encouraged to think critically and develop their learning.

I have a wealth of expertise in preparing students for A Level and GCSE success, achieving excellent results each year. I have been an A Level examiner for numerous examination boards, ensuring that I keep up to date with any changes in the examination structure. I oversaw the successful transition of Pre U Economics to A Level at Downe House. I have a particular interest in the rapidly developing world of Neuroscience and in particular the teenage brain, which supports my view that, in order to excel, students must enhance and develop their curriculum knowledge. I have always placed great importance on cocurricular activities and in my roles as Head of Enterprise and Head of Year 9, I have overseen many successful entrepreneurial programmes such as Young Enterprise, Tycoon in Schools and Wings of Hope. It is my belief that every student should be aware of and have an interest in the world around them. I hope to enhance students’ knowledge of world policies in alleviating some of the current problems facing the adults of the future in this Academy.

Global Affairs: Social Sciences Global Academy

Course Convener

Dr Rachel Pilkington, PhD, BSc (Hons), PGCE

I Graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc(Hons) degree in Chemistry and received the Royal Society of Chemistry prize for coming first in my class. I stayed on at Manchester to study for a PhD in the field of Organometallic Chemistry, which involved the design and synthesis of novel compounds for application in the field of optics. Whilst completing my PhD, one of the things I most enjoyed was working with undergraduate students and guiding them with writing lab reports, as well as supervising and advising them on their individual research projects. I found sharing my expertise and love of Chemistry very rewarding indeed and decided to pursue a career in teaching at secondary level. I taught at Caterham School in Surrey for three years and whilst teaching there I gained my school centred PGCE from the Institute of Education. I worked in the girls’ boarding house guiding them as a tutor, as well as offering cocurricular science activities, including Junior Science Club. I then moved on to teach at Eton College and gained valuable experience teaching Chemistry there for two and a half years. Other responsibilities included coaching sport and teaching students from across the UK on the Eton College University Summer school.

I am currently working at Downe House as a teacher of Chemistry and also hold the responsibility of Deputy Head of Science; STEM. I enjoy encouraging students to take an active interest in STEM related topics and offer various initiatives, including optional six-week Elective Courses to engage students with some exciting aspects of Science that they would not usually cover in the classroom. I also lead the Oxbridge STEM faculty, which involves guiding and supporting students in Sixth Form to help prepare them for STEM related courses at University. I firmly believe in fostering inquisitive and independent thought, as these are key skills that need to be mastered for the field of STEM to progress. It is a privilege to share my interests and love for Science with the younger generation and inspire them to work towards solving the problems we face as a global community.

STEM: Applied Science Global Academy

Downe House

Global Academy

An Outstanding British Academic Experience A pathway to the future The course at a glance Students successful in gaining a place to study with the Downe House Global Academy will have the opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills by applying the scientific, social and literary knowledge gained in the classroom. Our highly experienced teachers will deliver a curated educational experience that will develop the vision and confidence of students, skills which are required to participate in British style academic tutorials at top universities. Students will be afforded the opportunity to hone their public speaking and data modelling skills. They will also gain an insight into boarding life at a traditional British school and be introduced to British teaching and learning styles. Selection Criteria The main selection criteria for participation in the Downe House Global Academy are: English Language Skills •

The courses are delivered in English, you will need a sufficient level of English to complete the course and take part in class discussions. There will be an assessment of English Language skills as part of the selection process. (Recommended: Level B2 for Cambridge tests and Level 6+7 for IELTS)

Academic Skills •

There will be an assessment of academic ability, intellectual curiosity, commitment and teachability through a pre-course assessment session.

Features of the Course •

A welcome from the Headmistress of Downe House school, Mrs Emma McKendrick, and the Course Conveners.

These 2-year courses are for students in years 7/8 and in years 10/11 and take place over a 2 year period. In all, there will be 4 Carousels of 10 weeks each in the areas of Social Sciences, STEM and Literature.

Students will get an insight into life at a traditional British Boarding House by participating in two ‘This is How We Learn’ buddy sessions.

Academic tutorials every 3 weeks to discuss academic progress and educational planning with a holistic approach.

Students will be invited to 2 x ‘Hear it from the Experts’ talks. They will be invited to join recordings of talks given by famous politicians, sports personalities, writers, artists, broadcasters and the like.

On Completing the Course At the end of each 10-week Carousel and each 2-year course, each student will receive the following: •

Assessment report including quantitative and qualitative data at the end of each 10-week Carousel.

Final Diploma featuring a pass, merit or distinction grade presented following the completion of 4 Carousels over 2 years.

Letter of recommendation upon request for entrance into a school or university of your choice upon completion of a 2-year Course.

Participation in the 2-year course will add to the assessment portfolio required for entry into Downe House at 13+ or 16+

Please note: Stand alone 10-week courses can be arranged by consultation.