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Welcome to Downham Market Academy

About us

Downham Market Academy is one of the larger schools in Norfolk with a wide rural catchment area. Drawing students from a wide area, many of whom travel by bus, means we have a truly comprehensive intake. Historically, the school has enjoyed a good reputation, and after a challenging couple of years, this reputation is rapidly being regained and has been given further impetus by converting to an academy sponsored by the CWA Academy Trust.

The main ex-high school building was partially-renovated in summer 2013 and students returned in September to find a refurbished canteen and three new learning zones in the heart of the academy, effectively tripling our library and learning spaces.

We are developing a range of new policies for the academy – based on current best practice and outstanding approaches from other academies – and we will be keen to hear your views on how we are doing through our parent partnership initiative, which we will continue to develop.

Academy aims

We aim to grow ambition within all our students and we will support them to aspire to learn beyond limits and to achieve the best they can.

We aim to achieve this through a single-minded focus on learning within a context of mutual respect, continuing to develop on our community-agreed respect principles, which state:

People at Downham Market Academy:

  • Are prepared and ready to enjoy learning
  • Are polite, helpful and always ready to listen
  • Respect standards, regulations and the environment
  • Bring a positive attitude towards every aspect of learning
  • Act as positive role models for those around them


The academy was formerly known as Downham Market High School and College, which formed in September 1980 as the amalgamation of three secondary schools in Downham Market; Downham Grammar, Downham Market Boys’ School and Downham Market Girls’ School.

The Bexwell site dates back to 1956 and was originally organised as separate boys’ and girls’ secondary modern single-sex schools. The Upwell block was added as a consequence of the closure of Upwell Secondary in 1982 when around 220 additional pupils were added to the school roll. The Malcolm Arnold Room was opened by the famous composer Sir Malcolm Arnold in 1984. Other buildings on the Bexwell site include the Technology Block (1997), the Arts Block, housing History, Music and Drama (2001) and the English Block (2005).

Ryston was formerly the premises of Downham Grammar School, built in 1930 in the extensive grounds of the White House dating back to the 17th century. The house was formerly occupied by the headmaster of the school and, later, by the sixth form. It became surplus to requirements and was sold back into the residential sector in 2000. Since reorganisation, two new blocks have been added on the Ryston site. The Art and Business centre was opened by Gillian Shepherd MP, Minister of State for Education.

The academic years 1980/01 and 1981/82 saw the phasing out of the previous grammar and secondary modern pattern of education and, from September 1982, Downham Market High School became a fully amalgamated county, co-educational, secondary, comprehensive, day school. Year 7 students were based at Ryston after reorganisation in 1980, due to Bexwell insufficient space for five year groups, and Ryston’s additional space for the then much smaller sixth form. Ofsted stressed the importance of uniting Key Stages 3 and 4 on the same site and this was duly achieved with the opening of the new block on the Bexwell site in 2001. In September 1983, the existing transfer arrangements into the school were re-organised so that all pupils entered at 11+ and not, as was the case previously, with pupils from the surrounding village primary schools entering at 11+ and pupils from Clackclose County Middle School and Hillcrest First and Middle School entering at 12+.


How to apply

If you want to apply for courses, you will need to contact Downham Market Academy directly.

Last updated date: 09 October 2017

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