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(39 Posts)
AuntRose Thu 10-Jan-13 07:37:03


I have a daughter in Year 5 in the Sussex area and I was thinking as having Roedean as a possible Year 7 choice. However have been hearing rather a lot of negative info recently and was wondering if anyone knew the truth.

1) Have heard they are throwing money at the boarding facilities in order to attract more overseas pupils?

2) Are handing out scholarships to any local girl who applies?

3) The head is leaving?

4) The roll numbers are at an all time low?

Thanks any info gratefully received.

Tasmania Thu 10-Jan-13 13:52:15

I know that even more than a decade ago, Roedean was always keen on overseas pupils, and had plenty of them, too. There were these siblings from abroad - one of which went to Roedean while the other went to another well-known boarding school.

One ended up with a really posh British accent, while the other's accent didn't really change, as the intake of her school was quite international. The latter went to Roedean.

It's not a bad thing. Any British child would grow up in a more international atmosphere, and make global contacts rather than local ones...

Snowyzoe Thu 10-Jan-13 15:03:52

Hi AuntRose, I work at Roedean and am happy to clear up your queries.

1. We're spending £9m on the boarding houses - they haven't been refurbished since the 1980s so were in need of some TLC. Quite a lot of this is structural work, rather than cosmetic, and will be appreciated by discerning UK students as much as international ones!

2. No, there's lots of interest in scholarships, the assessment day is in a couple of weeks. Calibre of girls will dictate, but I'd be surprised if we offer more than the usual small handful.

3. Yes, Frances, our current head, has been offered a job in Switzerland and is leaving at the end of the current school year. We'll be announcing the new Head's name at Easter.

4. No, the numbers are exactly the same as they were at this point in 2008 and every year since - 372.

Worth saying finally that we are really happy to have international pupils on site. At the end of the day, your daughter could be competing for a job with someone who grew up in Rio or in Singapore, so a big bonus to understand what makes the international students tick. Come and see how it works in practice!

Hope that helps - you can find more detail on all the above at

grovel Thu 10-Jan-13 15:43:35

I'm intrigued about Roedean. 25 years ago it was mentioned in the same breath as Cheltenham Ladies College, Downe House, Wycombe Abbey, Benenden, Heathfield and a few others. My perception is that CLC, Downe and Wycombe have since upped their academic profiles as the "go to" schools for Oxbridge/Russell Group - and that the others have stayed in the same place as "nice schools for nice girls". Is this characterisation (based on very little) wrong?
I should add that I met some current Roedean parents over Christmas and that they were delighted with the school.

stripycandycane Thu 10-Jan-13 22:29:23

My DD is at Roedean and I am really pleased with our choice of school for her.
She loves being at school, is doing very well and has some lovely friends.
She finds the lessons interesting and stimulating, enjoys the wide range of activities on offer and there is a great enrichment and extension programme which she benefits from. There are always lots of things going on at the school for the girls.
I have been really impressed with the personal feel of Roedean both for DD and as a parent and am always made to feel very welcome when I attend events/parents evenings etc.
Don't be put off by things you have heard which are not accurate, get in contact with the school and go for a visit. I would really recommend it.

Mutteroo Fri 11-Jan-13 01:32:29

Speaking as a mother of an ex Roedean pupil, Id say you must go and look at the school before you write it off. DD used to be a St Mary's Hall pupil and when the school merged with Roedeanm we were very apprehensive, We needn't had worried as Roedean is a remarkable school which I would highly recommend.

DD was a day pupil and she felt extremely comfortable with the larger percentage of boarding girls. Yes there was a bigger percentage of overseas pupils to UK based pupils, and I wonder if this was/is putting off UK based parents/DD? It's likely to be a vicious cycle which is a shame. DD was blissfully happy there, the support she received was outstanding, the music department was brilliant and the pastoral care was excellent. DD has travelled all over the world visiting her international Roedean friends, so there's a bonus with having so many overseas based girls!

The boarding facilities were good but I'm glad to hear they're being improved. The school sold off the St Mary's Hall building a few years ago and more recently sold what was the SMH junior school building to Bighton College. Roedean never felt cash strapped when DD was there, however, if you want to check on the school's finances, go to the charities commision website and you can read more there.

The only reason we didn't consider Roedean in the first place was because of its reputation of being more superior (we were first time buyers of indie education & a little scared of Roedean); plus the fees were higher than any other school in the area. Not sure how they compare now? I've friends with DDs who either attend or attended The Towers, Moira House, Burgess Hill, Brighton & Hove High, Lancing, Brighton, Hurst & Bedes. DD was highly impressed when she went to a swimming tournament at St Leonard's Mayfield. Cannot vouch for their academics.

You have numerous options to choose from & you need to find the right fit for your daughter. It may be a state school compares favourably to any local private school? if you would like to speak privately please send me a message & I may be able to help further.

AuntRose Fri 11-Jan-13 07:22:38

Thank you everybody for your helpful input!

Bonsoir Fri 11-Jan-13 08:20:22

grovel - Roedean used to be quite academic in times past - sending girls to Oxford to read PPE in the 1970s etc.

Griffithmum Fri 11-Jan-13 13:58:04

Grovel - I think you are correct. I am currently " in the market" for all girls boarding and I think there is no way that Roedean today can be thought of in the same category as Wycombe, CLC and Downe. You just wouldn't send an academic girl to Roedean... but that is not to say it isn't right for some - not everyone suits a more academic school. Many seem to have the view that it is for the not very bright girls from "nice" families OR for overseas students. Unfortunately the academics just don't compete with Wycombe or CLC.

Xenia Fri 11-Jan-13 14:25:09

136th in FT A level league tables is much better than a good few boarding schools. Millfield is something like 700th

Hamishbear Fri 11-Jan-13 14:50:37

I like the idea of the traditional ethos and stunning setting. They offer Mandarin which also appeals especially if your child has some knowledge and exposure to it beforehand. This makes it sound like it might be more progressive and forward thinking that it's given credit for & that it has real potential to offer a blend of international forward thinkingness and all the traditional values it was known & respected for.

Brighton College - not too far away - is seriously on the up and has recruited some amazing teachers recently. I believe that Roedean also sold a key building of theirs to Brighton College (or something like that). My fear would be that it might close in the future & be forced to sell more land/assets etc to keep going? it seems to be in decline & past its prime but that may change of course when the new head is appointed and if they perhaps embrace the 21st Century in the way I suggested.

grovel Fri 11-Jan-13 15:00:32

If you look at Roedean's balance sheet (Charity Commission website) it looks pretty solvent after the land sales. Just about operating at breakeven so any financial decline would take some time.

snowday Fri 11-Jan-13 17:04:20

Standards and expectations are high within the school and it's a good school for academic girls!

Dustylaw Sat 12-Jan-13 10:09:54

Results, FT and leavers destinations are strong. Roedean was not our intended choice when we looked at it and it was up against strong competition from both single sex and co-ed schools (including a couple mentioned on this board, one of which was so hierarchical that older girls wouldn't allow younger girls to sit on the common room sofas until Year 11). It seemed to us a thoroughly modern school whereas a couple of the girls schools we saw seemed more in a 'bubble'. We liked the international atmosphere and attitude of the school and that also was a nice change from some other schools. We especially wanted high achievement in a relaxed atmosphere and that can be a difficult trick for girls' schools it seems. The takeover of a local girls' school was no doubt difficult at the time but the outcome has been positive and also provided some surplus land which Brighton College dearly wanted and hence the nice wodge of cash. All well managed by the outgoing head - she's very impressive. We have been very pleased with the range and quality of activities, warm atmosphere and the teaching is good. Plus my daughter is teaching me Mandarin.

Xenia Sat 12-Jan-13 11:33:46

I have no idea if this is so here, but how many of the children are from abroad? A few British boarding schools have gone over to so very many children from outside the UK (usually because of falling numbers at home) rather than just the odd Saudi Prince that if you don't speak Russian or Chinese then at weekends you cannot even chat to your classmates. It is that interesting issue about tipping point.

maiacam Sat 12-Jan-13 17:06:08

I think I read the intake is 50/50 international

Xenia Mon 14-Jan-13 15:14:41

.which is pretty high. It is not that I don't like mixtures of pupils - in fact I love my children going to school with children from all cultures. However once the balance at boarding school is over a certain amount in a sense it almost ceases to be an English school and yet the international parents want an English school. They don't want their childre at a school with 50% Chinese for example if they are Chinese otherwise they may have well educated them in Shanghai. Difficult issue for schools particularly those with falling numbers.

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 16:36:20

I don't think that the parents mind as much as you seem to think, Xenia. I know plenty of overseas parents in the market for English boarding school and the one thing they all want is for there to be plenty of other foreigners!

Bonsoir Mon 14-Jan-13 16:39:46

Indeed, two of our children went to a US summer camp last year, and are going back again this year, and the one thing that I really wanted to ensure when choosing a camp was that there were going to be lots of non-US children.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 16:57:09

Xenia I think it depends on the intake of pupils and the way that the school handles the integration. I have done the rounds with expat children and there really is a big disparity in the way overseas students are admitted and integrated when they get there. I was quite appalled by Wycombe Abbey's attitude to Chinese students, seeing them as stereotypes. The feeling of my friends Chinese daughter who speaks only English was that they recruit girls who had been tutored to speak English at the interview but revert to Mandarin / Cantonese as soon as out of earshot of staff. It is however the most sought after school amongst Chinese students. At CLC in contrast they clearly understand the needs of International students and how to integrate all students as individuals, probably helps it is the choice of Brit expat teachers, and certainly under Vicky Tuck, it listened to their advice. When a school with a mix of International students gets it right then it really is special but it needs to overcome tribal behaviour and replace it with a culture that embraces everyone's culture.

grovel Mon 14-Jan-13 18:54:33

Copthallresident, that makes sense. The only downside is that my niece was at CLC and had several very rich friends from China. They were lovely girls but maintaining their friendships was very expensive for my BiL!

Isabeller Mon 14-Jan-13 19:00:59

So good to hear your story Mutteroo DD was a scholarship local girl at SMH but left before closure. Good luck with your decision OP.

Xenia Tue 15-Jan-13 07:33:18

There are some international schools abroad - roissy? and indeed international schools called exactly that. Then there is this category of UK boarding school and I don't know if Rhodean is that where more children are from abroad than not. Purely anecdotal but I knew one person who had to take their UK daughter every weekend home from boarding school as the only children left were Chinese girls who spoke Mandarin every weekend and she felt very lonely.

Bonsoir Tue 15-Jan-13 09:24:04

Xenia - the English parents may not like all the foreigners being there! That is not the same thing as the foreign parents liking the foreigners being there!

Dustylaw Tue 15-Jan-13 09:34:25

I think they pull off the trick of being both an international school and an English school at the same time so it was a positive for us. But like all schools you just have to go and see and decide if you like it.

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