Downe House Riyadh is one of several traditional English public (meaning private) schools that are expanding internationally, with its campuses opening in both Muscat, Oman and Riyadh in September 2022.
Downe House Riyadh is a new English National Curriculum school that opened in August 2022 accepting students from Nursery (FS1) to Year 10 initially.
Following the tradition of the original UK school which is over 100 years old, Downe House Riyadh will primarily focus its attention on the education of girls, although the school will also admit boys to the age of 9 (Year 4) - in line with practice in many Middle Eastern countries where schools are co-educational until pre-puberty. Thereafter, male students will have direct access to Kings College Riyadh as part of an agreement between the two schools, both of which offer the English National Curriculum. Downe House Riyadh is the first premium British all-girls’ schools to open in Saudi Arabia.
‘Work Hard – Aim High’ is a mantra that Downe House girls adopt. The personal triumphs at the heart of the school’s academic results are said to be a testament to this attitude.
The leadership of the Riyadh school will be in the hands of Adele O’Doherty who joins Downe House Riyadh from her position as acting Headmistress of Northampton High School, a member of the prestigious Girls Day School Trust in the U.K.
Downe House Riyadh says that it will provide an environment that both supports its students’ development and celebrates their individuality, recognising that there is no such thing as a ‘typical Downe House girl’.
Downe House Riyadh will offer “a first-class British education” in the international context of Riyadh, leading to IGCSE and A Level examinations. The school will follow the ‘broad and inclusive’ English National Curriculum with a proven track record of ensuring that girls graduate to the world’s top universities.
Downe House Riyadh offers subject specialist teaching in every year group, in all subjects from Year 5 upwards and more lesson time than other schools. The school says that it recognises the importance of Arabic Language, Islamic Studies and Social Studies and will ensure that these subjects are embedded within the core curriculum. They will be delivered by subject specialist teachers and the curriculum frameworks adopted will be aligned with the requirements of the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia.
A tiered English Additional Language programme is offered, providing a variety of support programmes depending on each student's needs. These include EAL group sessions, one-to-one tuition, additional teaching and learning resources, online activities, and mentoring.
Whilst many schools in Riyadh finish by 2pm, Downe House Riyadh offers an extended school day. This longer day aims to ensure that students have the opportunity to discover interests and talents beyond the classroom, helping them to build character, team-working skills and self-confidence. Sport, performing and creative arts, and enrichment clubs reflect some of the diverse range of activities that will be available. This will ensure that every student can benefit from a broad and balanced curriculum and has the opportunity to pursue interests beyond the classroom.
Downe House offers a dedicated Learning Support Department, equipped to oversee the requirements of students with mild to moderate Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The Department is an integral part of Downe House and will focus on individual progress. Its aim is to enable each student to learn in a way that suits their unique profile, and to promote those skills for learning that underpin consistent progress across the subject range.
As with any international branch, the new school leans heavily on the achievements of students at the 'home' school in order to promote the level of academic achievement it expects to enable for its students.
Students are said to leave Downe House UK to take up places at top universities in the UK and across the world, including the USA and Canada. In 2020, over 89% of the students went to top Russell Group universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. Other top-ranked universities included Harvard, Princeton, and Brown.
Downe House School Riyadh has taken over an existing campus located towards the north of Riyadh in the prominent neighbourhood of Aqeeq, making it readily accessible from most parts of the city. It is conveniently located minutes from Riyadh Park Mall and in close proximity to King Abdullah Financial District.
The campus was designed by two leading Saudi female architects where state-of-the-art buildings and facilities have been purpose-built. The campus houses dedicated libraries, central atriums, specialised science and IT labs - the school is a Microsoft Centre of Excellence - music studios, and an auditorium. The 560-seat theatre is at the heart of the performing arts facilities, incorporating best-in-class audio-visual, acoustic and lighting design to ensure that all students are able to shine.
An expansive sports complex includes an indoor swimming pool, basketball/football court, squash courts, ballet studio, dance studio, boxing room, fitness suite and gym.
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Parents often worry about choosing a newly-opened school for their children when there is no past history or ratings by which to judge it - and this is a viewpoint that we completely understand. However, at Downe House Riyadh, whilst the school may be new, the organisation behind it most certainly is not.
With its specific single gender focus and its immediate opening to Secondary students, provided Downe House Riyadh really is able to put in place the leadership, teaching staff and resources and does its best to mirror the UK school - albeit with clear recognition of the international context - we believe that the school has every chance of success.
Fees range from 51,750 SR to 92,000 SAR, placing Downe House School Riyadh in the top tier of international schools in Riyadh .
There are a range of additional fees including a one-off, non-refundable Application Fee for every child of 500 SAR, a one-off, non-refundable Assessment Fee of 1,000 SR for the professional evaluation for every child, and a one-off, non-refundable enrolment Registration Fee of 3,500 SAR for every child accepting the offer of a place. This is payable after an offer of a place has been made and within 7 days of the date of the offer letter.
There is also a non-refundable Acceptance Deposit to guarantee each child’s place, deducted from the first term’s fees.
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