Down Syndrome Education International

An organisation we have used on a number of occasions is the Down Syndrome Education International (Registered Charity No: 1062823) based in Portsmouth, UK. It’s objectives are to undertake research and provide information, training and advice to promote the development and education of individuals with Down syndrome worldwide.

We have bought and used the Down Syndrome Education International’s excellent learning support materials, drawn on their rigorous research to support us in our decision making for our son’s education (we went with mainstream for the first few years – the Trust strongly advocate mainstream for individuals with Downs Syndrome) and visited the Sarah Duffen centre (home of downsed) on several occasions which is always an uplifting experience.

I wholeheartedly recommend that any parent or carer of a youngster with Down Syndrome should be aware of Down Syndrome Education International and the work they do. Even if you do not intend to put your child into a mainstream school Down Syndrome Education International still has plenty to offer.


Down Syndrome Education International is also commonly known as ‘downsed’. This developed as a contraction of the full name,  Down Syndrome Education International by taking the ‘down’, the ‘s’ to represent the word syndrome and ‘ed’ to represent the word education.

The Sarah Duffen Centre

Many people often refer to the Trust as ‘The Sarah Duffen Centre’. This is actually the name of the buildings in Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK.


In 1979, the father of Sarah Duffen, a child with Down syndrome, wrote to Sue Buckley at the University of Portsmouth about his success in teaching his daughter to read from the age of 3 years and the positive impact this had had on her spoken language skills.

Leslie Duffen’s letter led Sue Buckley, a psychologist researching early intervention and also parent of an adopted daughter with Down syndrome, to initiate a research project to investigate reading development in children with Down syndrome. This project marked the starting point for a continuous, and ongoing, programme of research into the learning needs of these children.

Research in the early 1980s demonstrated that most children with Down syndrome can learn to read and that they should start in their pre-school years. At the time these were radical suggestions.

Parents brought together by Sue’s first research project formed a support group, that later became formally established as The Portsmouth Down’s Syndrome Trust.

In 1997, The Down Syndrome Educational Trust (as it was then) took over the work of the Portsmouth Down’s Syndrome Trust. This new name reflected the charity’s increasingly wide geographic reach and highlighted the focus on education.

Since 1997, downsed’s activities have steadily expanded in scale, scope and impact. Alongside an ever-increasing range of national and international activities, it continues to offer services for local children and their families in the south of England.

downsed at work…

downsed aims to make a positive difference for individuals with Down syndrome in the UK and worldwide. It does this by working with their families and the professionals and researchers involved in their development:


downsed helps individuals with Down syndrome achieve their potential and be fully included in society.


downsed provides information and services for families to help them provide the best care and support for their children with Down syndrome.


downsed provides information and training for health, education and social care professionals involved in the care and development of individuals with Down syndrome.


downsed works with other researchers to find out more about the ways individuals with Down syndrome learn and develop.

Case studies

downsed’s work makes a real difference to the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

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