We hear from the men and women at the front of the class about what inspired – and continues to inspire – them to take up teaching. Here’s the view from the staff room at The Downs Malvern School


Alastair S Cook, Headmaster of The Downs Malvern, is thrilled to be able to use quotes that current parents at the school have passed on to the Independent Schools Inspectorate, such as:

The Downs Malvern is where children are encouraged to use their initiative and to keep their minds and eyes wide open. It is very special… an unforgettably happy experience.” (current parent).

Comments such as these hearten and inspire both me and all the staff at the school, as this is exactly the sort of friendly, safe and creative environment that we have been looking to create on this side of the beautiful Malvern Hills since our restructuring programme four years ago.

Alastair Cook

It is our deepest wish that the children who attend The Downs Malvern are wonderfully happy about coming to a school where each of them know that they are cared for to the highest possible levels and that they are not only taught through a very broad academic curriculum, but also that they are encouraged, at every turn, to develop into delightful and resilient members of the school and wider community with a clear and confident understanding of their own individual learning processes.

The inspiration for producing such an exciting environment for our children is simply the expressions of joyful awe of learning and celebration of achievements that adorn the children’s faces every day.”

This is my third Headship and this is the most exciting, as the school has grown and grown over the past eight years since I moved from the Headship at a Prep school in the heart of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya.

We focus on a happy and supportive school where each child, member of staff or parent respects and celebrates each others achievements and where all involved in the school feel a strong bond of friendly fellowship bound together by a clear understanding of what is best for each other through the development of very high standards and expectations.

To achieve this has been challenging, although with everyone rowing in the same direction, the boat is certainly moving along very quickly and very smoothly. This is not only the greatest challenge but is also the most rewarding aspect of my role as Head of The Downs Malvern. Seeing bright eyed, very happy and successful children skipping into school each day is a true delight.

The Downs Malvern is an outstanding day, weekly, flexi- and full-boarding Prep School for girls and boys from 3–13 years. It is set within its own impressive 55-acre campus on the western edge of the Malvern Hills and is associated with Malvern College. Children benefit from excellent teaching alongside superb extra-curricular, boarding and sports facilities, including a multi-million pound sports hall, art studio, IT suite and all-weather sports pitch.

A first-class education is delivered in a secure, caring and extremely well-resourced environment and all children are encouraged to do their very best academically, creatively, physically, socially and spiritually so that they may achieve beyond their greatest expectations.

To support the academic programme, there are many extra-curricular activities.  Breadth and diversity are crucial to the philosophy of The Downs Malvern and therefore all children take part in the school’s Hobbies programme on Saturday mornings. They are given the opportunity to diversify their interests and experiences in activities such as cookery, drama, pottery, photography, gardening, fitness training, computer club, chess, rambling and a range of sports.

Unique to The Downs Malvern is the Downs Light Railway, now over 85 years old. It is the oldest privately owned miniature railway in the world and provides pupils with an opportunity to build, operate and maintain a working steam railway, complete with tunnel, station and points, which stretch for over a quarter of a mile around the school grounds. As well as the fun and responsibility of driving a passenger-hauling locomotive, the railway gives rise to wider educational opportunities which can be used to provide real applications for work in Maths, Physics, Design Technology, History and Geography, as well as for inspiration in Art and English.

The Downs Malvern, in association with Malvern College, also offers an extensive day transport bus service, covering parts of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.

Those children wishing to join as boarders will receive a warm welcome into the Boarding House (known as ‘The Warren’), as boarding is very much at the heart of the community at The Downs Malvern. Full boarders are accepted from the age of seven and boarding is, indeed, excellent preparation for those considering boarding at their senior school.

All children at The Downs Malvern progress to excellent, very well-known public schools, such as Malvern College, Millfield, Clifton, Shrewsbury, Marlborough, Cheltenham, and Repton, to name but a few.

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