Roedean is in the top 5 of the most famous UK English all-girl boarding school
Roedean is in the top 5 of the most famous UK English all-girl boarding schools.
In this category, it is far and away the most international, multicultural and outward-looking, with alumni from 86 countries, more than 19 languages spoken on campus, a university slipstream that takes 20% of students to universities overseas and a dedicated Pre-A-Level one year English language GCSE support program for those seeking Sixth Form entry with focus on grammar, pronunciation, listening, writing and reading and IELTS preparation.
In total 50% of pupils come from overseas and Roedean has a distinguished history of working with the children of service parents in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK government and forces abroad who attract unquestioned 20% fee remission.
The school itself is a striking white-washed Victorian pile replete with towers, turrets and cloisters set at the heart of a stunning, 120-acre clifftop Brighton campus overlooking Brighton Marina and edging the South Downs National Park.
The school is within easy reach of Gatwick and Brighton, and prime commuter belt for London. The school commands some of the highest fees for any boarding school in the country, but these are moderated by significant and genuine scholarship and bursary fee remission.
Alumni include Sarah Miles, Tessa Dahl and Verity Lambert.
Roedean offers a breadth of 25 subject choices at GCSE including language options in Persian, Russian, Spanish, French, German and Latin.
EAL is significantly resourced. Whilst core one-to-one EAL lessons are charged for, extensive support and teaching at various levels of the school is provided free of all charges and integrated within the curriculum.
For example, At KS3, girls for whom English is an Additional Language or whose entrance papers suggest that Latin or a second MFL would be too demanding may have Extra English group classes timetabled against Latin or a second MFL to provide a 2/3 period a week language teaching.
Equally, Roedean has a dedicated Special Needs department to support girls with dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.
GCSE and A-Level results are mid-tier. This is not a hothouse school and the dynamics that come from its international focus and moderate selection criteria are reflected in its placement in league tables. An added value calculation would see it garnering a significantly better position, but those parents not won over by the benefits of a multicultural international environment and seeking top tier league table performance should look elsewhere.
Some 25 plus subjects are offered at A-Level where students particularly excel in Art and Design, mathematics and languages. Roedean has a 15% Oxbridge slipstream which is highly creditable given its intake, even if not in the mid 30’s of its league table topping peers.
For entry at 11 and 13, unlike most of its prestigious peers, Roedean is genuinely open to international applications where there is an EAL requirement. Whilst selective, Roedean refuses to become a victim to the hothouse selection of its peers or the demands of the league tables to filter out all except prodigies and adopts a robust, added value approach where perceived good fit and potential, for example, may offset tested academic weakness of late developers.
Extra-co-curricular activities are extensive and Roedean has the 25m pool that is pretty much de rigueur for all serious independent schools. Add 12 netball courts, 15 tennis courts, hockey and cricket pitches, a golfing range and equestrian links and it’s clear that for those that thrive on sport the opportunities are there. Little wonder perhaps the school currently teaches one record-breaking athlete. More interesting, however, is a Roedean ethos that recognises that not every girl wants to be, or could be an Olympian; alternative options in everything from Zumba to Pilates ensure inclusivity.
Entrance to the school is via registration form, Roedean in-house testing in English, mathematics and non-verbal reasoning (which can be taken abroad for international students) followed by interviews with the Head and Year tutor.
Prospective pupils and parents are asked to visit the school before applying. Offers are usually unconditional except in (rare) cases where further proficiency is required in mathematics or English to ensure the school can meet the needs of the prospective pupil.
Roedean will also accept Common Entrance, but it is not obligatory. Applications are encouraged at least 6 months before entry although 12 months is recommended. Roedean is flexible with test dates to fit around parents and papers are generally marked within a week.
Around 60 places are available in Year 7, 25 places in Year 9 and 60 places in the Sixth Form.
Roedean has a genuine commitment to scholarships and bursaries. Rarely amongst public schools scholarship provision is generous with up to 100% fee remission. Bursaries offer up to the same level of fee remission, but are targeted at local students.
It is important to note that the ISI inspections, concluded in 2011 and (for boarding) in 2013 are significantly out of date given recent investments in boarding and changes to the school’s leadership, staffing and ethos. A £10 million investment in upgrading boarding facilities completed in 2015 has resulted in headlines across the national press including that “Roedean has redefined the boarding school for the 21st Century” (Sunday Times) and the new Head, Oliver Blond, has invested significantly in weekly and flexible boarding programs that are building up attendance from London and the South East.
A Level grades secured at A*/A/B: 74% (2014)
A’ Level grades A*/A: 47% (2014)
GCSE Grades A*A: 74% (2014)
GCSE Grades A*B: 95% (2014)
Roedean is an extremely impressive school. It is not a Wycombe, CLC or Downe and for many parents with academic children the temptation will be to write it off.
That may be a shame: The jury is still out on whether sending academic to children to a pressurized hothouse of academic children will produce any better results than sending them to a school of mixed ability where they may also have a chance to shine.
Add an international dimension in which a lifetime of friendships and contacts will be made that traverse the globe, the prestige of a school with an historic place in English boarding for girls, probably the most stunning location of any school in the country – and a school in which by every account girls are actually happy, and Roedean starts to look like a very serious wholly undervalued option for prospective parents.
Roedean is a school very much on the up, and very special to boot.
• Hugely international
• Generous scholarships for gifted children
• Mid-tier league table performance
• Not for those seeking a co-educational education
• For some, it may be too international
• A multi-cultural education without hothouse pressure
• International students seeking IAL
• Flexible boarding options
• Parents who are set on League Table toppers
• International students seeking bursary assistance
• Those seeking a boarding-only school
• Age Range: 11-18
• Boarding number: 300 pupils
• Day number: 120
• Sixth Form: 210 pupils
• Average class size: Not published
• Number of full time teaching staff: 115
• ISI Rating Boarding (2011): Good
• ISI Rating Academics (2011): Good / “for some Outstanding”
• ISI Rating Personal Development (2011): Excellent
• ISI Rating Leadership (2011): Excellent
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