School History

The Downham Montessori Nursery School was founded by its present owner, Elizabeth Laffeaty-Sharpe, in 1984 for children aged 2 to 5 years. In 1988, responding to parental request, the Primary School was opened in an adjoining building. Due to the increasing demand for places at the school,  a search for a larger property began.

In early 1991, her search ended with the purchase of the Old Rectory at Stow Bardolph, close to Downham Market. The school became Downham Preparatory School and Montessori Nursery.

In January 2005 we opened our new purpose-built school situated in the grounds of the Old Rectory. It offers up to date I.T. facilities, a large school hall and gym, library and classrooms equipped for specific subjects i.e. Art, Science, Geography, History, Modern Languages, English and  Mathematics.

This means the children now have better access to indoor and outdoor facilities and resources, appropriate to their age and experience. The school has continued to develop, updating its facilities continually.  In July 2012 the computer suite was refurbished with a new up to date computer system and in October 2012 a new Outdoor classroom was erected on the school grounds.

In September 2012 the Nursery moved in to refurbished accommodation on the ground floor of the house and the Baby Room was opened for children from 3 months of age. From the Nursery, through their cloakroom and conservatory, there is free access to the outdoor area. The outdoor area is fenced off and has an all-weather, astro-turf play surface. This is equipped with resources for all areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). As this is accessed immediately off the Nursery, it allows free flow to the outside all year round. The Nursery also have accompanied access to their own large garden in the grounds of the Primary School, where they have access to larger climbing equipment, tricycles, a vegetable patch, their own chickens, as well as the school pond and wildlife/conservation area.

In May 2005 the school gained the Investors in People Award (re-awarded 2008). In April 2006 after two years rigorous screening and assessment the nursery was awarded the prestigious Norfolk Quality Assurance Scheme for Early Years Provision. (re-awarded 2008).

In 2012 after months of hard work the school achieved Healthy School status. 

In March 2009, and again in October 2014, the school was inspected by Ofsted. The judgements can be unsatisfactory, need to improve, good or outstanding. They judged the school to be ‘outstanding’ each time.

In September 2014 The Reception Class moved into new accommodation, also on the ground floor of the Rectory. They now have a designated classroom and a very large conservatory which gives them a lot more space. During the Christmas term 2014 conversion work started on the first floor and in January 2015 the History, Geography, R.E. & Spanish classes moved out of the mobile classrooms and into the Rectory. The old reception classrooms in the main school have now been converted into a fully equipped music room enabling the department to offer music technology, with individual keyboards, sequencing software and recording equipment together with a wide range of more traditional instruments including a full samba set, African djembe and grand piano. With it's own accommodation, the music department can now offer individual tuition.

In September 2009 we opened a new nursery in the nearby town of Downham Market. The Nursery at Stow Bardolph is for the children who are staying with us for their Primary education. The new nursery in Downham Market is for children who will be continuing their education at any of the other local Primary schools.