Downlands Community School - Where learning is at the heart of everything it does

Nestled at the foot of the South Downs National Park, a more idyllic setting can hardly be imagined.  Surrounded by green fields and the vibrant community of Hassocks, it is no wonder that Downlands Community School students are inspired to reach their full potential.

Downlands is an Outstanding (2017), medium sized secondary school where traditional values  sit comfortably alongside leading edge approaches to learning .  Ofsted describe Downlands as “A caring and inclusive environment which fulfils the school commitment ‘to place learning at the heart of everything we do’. The outstanding outcomes which pupils consistently achieve are a result of this commitment. As one parent said, ‘I would not hesitate to recommend Downlands – the teaching is excellent, the staff really care, and my children are developing into lovely young adults.’”

Students throughout the school are fully engaged in learning across the curriculum from art to physics, drama to mathematics.  Ofsted describe how “the academic curriculum is rigorous and challenging. It is enriched by provision for the arts and a strong programme of extracurricular activities which further enhance pupils’ social, moral, spiritual and cultural understanding.”

Headteacher Mark Wignall explained: “Our results have been really outstanding for the last five years and Ofsted has recognised the work that we have done.”  Inspected by Ofsted in November 2016 Downlands was judged to be “Outstanding” in all areas. “We look at learning in the wider holistic sense and provide an environment where creative arts, sport, student leadership and other opportunities are equally important as traditionally academic subjects.  The high expectations we have ensure students develop a passion for learning and confidence and belief that they can succeed in anything they want to do in the future.”

Downlands provides a wide variety of opportunities for students to extend their educational experience.  The Creative Arts department stages drama productions, concerts and an annual exhibition of GCSE Art work which is open to the public as part of the Hassocks Open House Trail.  There are extra-curricular clubs in a wide variety of areas from Chess to Ultimate Frisbee.  The school is very proud of the talented students who take part very successfully in a variety of sports competing at national, county and local level in a variety of teams including equestrian, tennis, netball, cricket, football, rugby and badminton.

Downlands is proud to offer a curriculum to suit a wide range of abilities from those students who need extra support to those who have been identified as being gifted and talented.

Pastoral care is also strength at Downlands.  With dedicated Achievement Leaders for each year group working closely with Pastoral Support Officers and caring tutors, students’ well-being is closely monitored.  As result the students feel cared for and appreciated. “Staff cater for pupils’ needs very well. Relationships are strong and this enables pupils to thrive academically and personally.” (Ofsted)

There is a very positive vibe at Downlands.  Students are encouraged to believe that determination, resilience and a willingness to learn from constructive feedback are the key to their own success.  Behaviour is outstanding.  “Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary. They engage enthusiastically in lessons and show respect and care for each other.” (Ofsted)

Downlands is very proud to be at the heart of the Hassocks community.  Mr Wignall explained, “We believe that education reaches far beyond the taught curriculum and we promote a strong community ethos which enables students to make outstanding academic, social and personal progress.”  With the annual Summer Fayre and Christmas Market the school invites the local community onto the school site.  Students regularly visit local primary schools encouraging younger pupils with science, modern foreign languages and sport.  Not only is Downlands an active member of the Hassocks Twinning Association but it, together with Freedom Leisure, runs a community sports centre which includes a gym, sports hall and full size flood lit 3G football pitch. In the future Downlands is looking to make the most of its stunning location by creating an outdoor amphitheatre – to be used by both the students at school and the local community.  As Ofsted reported “The school makes an exemplary contribution to the community; it is a community school in action as well as in name.”

In the Autumn of 2017, new state of the art facilities including a Music suite, ICT suite, language suite, dance studio, extended Library and a New Learning Support Suite will open.

Downlands is an exciting, outstanding school.  As Ofsted put it “pupils are confident learners who value their education. They are happy to talk to each other and to adults about their learning and support each other well. One pupil said of her classmates, ‘We have a nice community here. If one of us gets it wrong, we help each other to get it right.’”

Note from the Head

Thank you for considering Downlands Community School for the next very important phase of your child’s education.

I hope this site gives you a flavour of the ethos of the school and of the excellent provision we offer at Downlands.  We are very proud of our school and are fortunate to have such a fantastic team of teachers and support staff dedicated to maintaining the highest standard of education possible for our young people.  We are committed to placing learning at the heart of everything we do – the outstanding outcomes young people consistently achieve at Downlands are a result of this commitment.

We have a holistic view of education and students are encouraged to maximise their participation in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, trips and clubs.  The high expectations we have ensure that students develop a passion for learning and confidence and belief that they can success in anything they want to do in the future.  We are traditional school with traditional values – we are proud of our students’ achievements, their conduct and their leadership.  Our curriculum prepares them for their next steps whatever their abilities or interests.

Mark Wignall



“The exceptional quality of teaching and learning is a significant strength of the school”.
Ofsted 2017

“Miss is great.  She’s really helped me to understand art technically and to love it too.”
Pupil to Ofsted

“I would not hesitate to recommend Downlands - the teaching is excellent, the staff really care, and my children are developing into lovely young adults.”
Parent to Ofsted


School news

6th Apr 2018
More than 60 students at Downlands were on stage, singing and playing their hearts out!  The school hall was buzzing and reverberating with tunes from the 1980s and other wonderful pieces from Orpheus in the Underworld to the Impossible Dream. The evening kicked off with the Downlands Choir ... more
7th Feb 2018
Over 160 students took part in one of the biggest whole school productions Downlands has ever staged last week. "Our House" the Madness musical  was an absolute hit with parents, students and members of the local community. The stage looked amazing with Casey Street and Camden Lock ... more
28th Dec 2017
Three teams from Downlands Community school took part in a national public speaking competition organised by the Rotary Club, hosted by Hurstpierpoint College. It was an exciting and entertaining evening. Each of our three teams demonstrated impressive levels of motivation, commitment and ... more
29th Nov 2017
It was all action in the Year 7 Courtyard as the Adur and Ouse Rivers Trust together with volunteers from Hassocks came to build a special raised flower bed with the Downlands students. As part of Downlands Sustainable School week  Rachel Paget and volunteers from AORT (Adur and Ouse Rivers ... more
20th Oct 2017
On Friday 13 October, twenty eight Year 10 students took a day trip to Belgium to explore medicine and surgery used on the Western Front during World War I. It was a very early start as they bordered a coach bound from Ypres, Belgium but they wanted to make the most of the time they had at ... more
29th Sep 2017
If you go down to the woods today... you will probably find one of our new Year 7 tutor groups discovering the fun and excitement of the woods in the corner of the school grounds. Nestled at the foot of the South Downs the school grounds are extensive and a quiet corner of the woods is easy to ... more
12th Sep 2017
It was not all beach and ice cream over the summer holidays for some Downlands students. Just before we broke up for the summer, Downlands had no less than three attend at Twickenham the Gigafinal of the UK Chess Challenge, effectively a national semi-final and involving youngsters from ... more
31st Aug 2017
Students at Downlands School, in Hassocks, achieved some excellent GCSE results. Some 82 per cent earned a standard pass - grade 4 - or better in English & maths, while 39 per cent of passes were at an A and above (grade 7 and above). An impressive 36 students achieved grade 9, the ... more
6th Jul 2017
After the weeks and weeks of revision and GCSE exam stress, the Year 11 Downlands students were finally able to let their hair down and celebrate their five years at Downlands. In the perfect setting of Plumpton Racecourse there was a stunning display of beautiful dresses and super smart ... more
6th Jul 2017
Once a year the PE Department gathers together to put on a fantastic evening of celebration - celebrating the hard work and sporting endeavour of the students at Downlands. We know that our students are incredibly talented and once a year they are recognised for all the sports they excel ... more
27th Jun 2017
The 2017 Downlands GCSE Fine Art, Art Textiles and Technology Exhibition showcased the work of the exceptionally talented students at Downlands. With a wide range of techniques and work on display Matt Freestone, guest of honour, was given the impossible task of choosing this year's winner ... more
27th Jun 2017
The annual Downlands Summer Fayre became a focal point for the local community on Saturday afternoon. Despite the best efforts of the weather to dampen spirits the event was a resounding success. The Burgess Hill Runners Fun Run recorded over 300 participants - sprinting, running, ... more

School details

Address: Dale Avenue, Hassocks, BN6 8LP
Phone: 01273 845892
Head: Mark Wignall
Founded: 1960
Pupils: 1120
Ages: 11-16
Prospectus: Request a Prospectus