Headteacher Blog - 22 October

Posted on: 22nd Oct

As we near the end of this half term, I hope that you and your families are well.   I would like to say a huge thank you for your continued support during the last few challenging, but also hugely enjoyable weeks.

Our recent Rising Yr7 Open Evening felt very special indeed, being able to invite both existing parents and prospective parents back into our school, there was a real buzz around the school. I personally really enjoyed meeting many families whose children will hopefully be students here next September. We asked attending parents to complete a questionnaire about the event, and I am delighted that the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and highlighted that our students are our greatest asset to our school, which makes me extremely proud.  I would like to thank those students who gave up their evening to act as tour guides, take part in interactive games and experiments and engage with our visiting families and also to all my staff who worked hard to ensure the school could open safely. I would like to say a special thank you to our Head Boy Morgan, Head Girl Rhea, together with our two Year 7 students, Amelia & Johnny who all spoke so eloquently and positively about life at The Downs School.

Some of the feedback received from parents were:

  • We were shown around by a year 8 boy, who was so eloquent, polite, and impressive... a huge credit to the Downs!
  • Thank you for an excellent open day. I really felt the small school in a big school atmosphere and was very impressed with the staff and all the pupils. We really felt very welcome and felt we had a good opportunity to gain a real sense of the school.

Examinations 2022

The Department for Education and Ofqual have published several documents setting out plans for GCSEs, AS levels, A levels, and vocational and technical qualifications next year. The key points are below:


  • There will be optional topics and content in GCSE English Literature, History and Geography.
  • If necessary, centres will be allowed to deliver practical work in GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Combined Science, AS level Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Geology by demonstration.
  • Students taking GCSE, AS and A level Art and Design will be assessed on their portfolio only.
  • Exam boards will provide advanced information about the focus of the content of exams for all GCSE, AS and A level subjects except GCSE English Literature, History and Geography by 7 February 2022 at the latest. This could be released earlier ‘if circumstances require’.
  • Students will be given a formulae sheet for GCSE Mathematics and a revised equation sheet for GCSE Physics and Combined Science.


  • 2022 will be a ‘transition year’ to reflect the fact that we are in a pandemic recovery period and students’ education has been disrupted.
  • Ofqual will therefore aim for grades in 2022 to reflect a midway point between 2021 and 2019. This means that results overall next year will be higher than in 2019 but not as high as in 2020.

We will of course, continue to keep you informed of any further announcements and any changes, which may affect your son or daughter moving forwards.

Frustratingly, last week we found out about the inaccurate test results issued at the Newbury Showground, which has led to a rise in the number of COVID related absences among our students and, among our staff.  In response to these rises, we have had to introduce several additional protective measures to help prevent any further increases.  Whilst none of these measures are ideal, they are absolutely essential in ensuring that everybody within the school community is kept safe, so we can maintain adequate staffing levels within the school.  I would appreciate your full support in ensuring that your son/daughter continues to adhere to these measures. We will of course review the position after the half term break.

It has been fantastic this term, to see students competing in sporting fixtures, whether that be this week’s House Cross Country event, or after school fixtures against other local schools.  In recent weeks our football and hockey teams have been in action, some of the highlights included the success of our Year 8 and 9 mixed hockey teams, who both won their recent tournaments without conceding a goal.  We also have successes of several of our students who competed at the National Windsurfing Championships in September.  Teams from around the country competed in different classes based on sail size. Year 12 student, Luke N represented Burghfield; Year 7 student Freddie T and Ned BT in Year 9 represented Farmoor, who won the team trophy and were crowned National Champions. The team, including Freddie, Ned and his sister Millie, were awarded their trophy by British Olympic windsurfers Tom Squires and Emma Wilson. Regional championships were then held, with Ned awarded a bronze medal in his fleet and Millie securing second place. Freddie sailed well but missed out on a medal. Congratulations to all these students on their fantastic achievements.

Thank you for continuing to work in partnership with us to help ensure that school is as safe as possible for our students and staff, I wish you and your family a relaxing half-term break.

Mr Prosser


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