The Elective Programme offers Upper Fourth girls the opportunity to go beyond the curriculum and opens up new and exciting avenues of study with the aim of developing lateral thinking skills, scholarly independence, intellectual flexibility and the ability to discuss complex ideas.  

The programme is comprised of a series of bespoke subject-specific modules, or Electives, which are organised according to three distinct pathways, each one named after Downe House Alumnae, Biochemist, Helen Muir (DH 1938, Anthropologist, Audrey Richards (DH 1917) and Historian, Margaret Aston (DH 1950). Girls can select a six-week Elective module from any of the three pathways – for example, one teacher might run an Elective on the beauty of Shakespeare’s sonnets, another on the complexity of ancient Greek Physics, and another still on the consequences of Development Economics.

Dr Andrew Atherton, Head of the Elective Programme explains the rationale for the programme, “Whilst as a School, we are rightly very proud of the enviable public examination results that our pupils achieve, we also recognise that knowledge does not begin and end here. Coined by the University of Cambridge, the term ‘super-curriculum’ describes academic and scholarly opportunities that lie beyond the curriculum and are not directly related to examination preparation. In order to continue developing our already extensive super-curriculum, the Elective Programme cultivates a love of learning for learning’s sake and provides an extra intellectual challenge for the most able girls.”