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Tatler’s annual Schools Guide reviews the top 230 prep and public schools in the UK.
There are big changes afoot at Roedean, where the views from the classrooms are of the sea. Work has started on refurbishing four houses, currently home to 200 of the school’s boarders, so there may be some juggling between buildings while it’s in progress. The finished results, however, will make it all worthwhile.
These windswept girls are a globetrotting bunch who know their own minds: the debate team recently returned from workshops in Madrid and the school council has taken the decision to introduce a more formal dress code (suits) in the sixth form. Pupils are traditionally strong in science, engineering and maths, and Roedean has strong links with the University of Sussex.
The school mantra – ‘looking outward, aiming high’ – could well be inspired by its clifftop setting, but it perfectly pinpoints the school’s attitude too.
‘Local girls become global graduates,’ Roedean reports with pride. This year, a delegation from Roedean flew off to discuss the status of women at the UN in New York, and there are student exchange programmes with schools in China, Australia and South Africa. Closer to home, a pupil represented Brighton and Hove in the UK Youth Parliament.
You get the picture: Roedean girls are a smart, savvy bunch with their heads screwed on, actively having a say in the world around them. And now there’s more money in the bursary pot for local girls thanks to the sale of the St Mary’s Hall buildings (the two schools merged a couple of years ago).
They’re hot on sports, particularly netball (the under-19 team battled through to the National Schools Championships for the first time) and swimming. The setting couldn’t be much more exhilarating – the cliff-top views out to sea have to be seen to be believed, especially from the dining rooms – with the Sussex Downs on one hand and buzzy Brighton a bus ride away on the other.
'We take good girls and make them great,’ the school tells us. With inspirational Head Frances King at the helm, the good ship Roedean is bobbing along beautifully.
Roedean is one of the most famous English boarding schools.
The clifftop cream-coloured building has stunning views out to sea (pupils can watch the waves crashing while they tuck into tea and toast), a secret tunnel to the beach and plenty of fresh salty air.
This is not the sort of place where vanity prevails. Much more important is excellence on the netball courts, brilliance in the classrooms (the girls are very strong on science and maths) and unbridled distinction on the stage.
Head Frances King has made it her mission to change the outside world’s view of her school. “I’m not caught up in uniforms or marching in regimented lines. I want happy, enthusiastic girls.” Any particular type? “The next Joanna Lumley – talented, purposeful and principled!”’