The school's ethos: 'looking outward, aiming high' is inspired by its stunning 40-acre setting overlooking the cliffs at Brighton across the English Channel. Roedean girls discover the excitement of learning in the classroom, on the stage or sports field - supported by excellent teaching and outstanding specialist facilities. Alongside superb results, girls gain the skills, independence and self-assurance to enter world class universities and progress onto fulfilling careers.
Roedean breaks tradition to welcome boys - but only once a week
School's Roedean Academy programme invites Year 10 children from across Brighton and Hove to participate in a series of lessons that stretch them beyond the national curriculum including genetic engineering, cryptology and the psychology of crime.
BOYS will study at all-girls Roedean School for the first time in its 135-year history – but only on a Wednesday evening.
The Sussex school has been a bastion of exclusively-female education since it was founded in the 19th century to prepare girls for the rigours of newly opened Cambridge women’s colleges Girton and Newnham.
It has produced a stream of actors, politicians, journalists, human rights campaigners, scientists and artists, all achieving firsts in their fields across the centuries.
But 2020 has seen the arrival of boys at its imposing wooden doors overlooking the English Channel as they take part in the school’s Roedean Academy programme.
The programme invites Year 10 children from across the city to participate in a series of lessons that stretch them beyond the national curriculum including genetic engineering, cryptology and the psychology of crime.
Each Wednesday evening some 14 boys and 39 girls from local secondary schools visit the famous girls’ school high on the cliffs to settle down to language code-breaking, philosophy and stats and hard maths sessions.
Stanley Bradley-Scott from Brighton school Dorothy Stringer School said: “I think that Roedean’s academy is incredible – there is a massive range of modules, so you can be super-science-y or you can be the complete opposite. My friends are curious to see what it’s actually like – we drive past here a lot and see this incredible building, but we never knew much about what was going on.”
Kumi Kemp from Brighton school Longhill School added: “I thought Roedean would be a bit uptight with everyone following the rules exactly, but it’s completely different – everyone’s really friendly. It’s got opportunities for everyone, no matter what you want to do.”
Roedean pupil Lola Clarke agreed: “It’s great to participate in discussions with people who are bringing in new ideas and new perspectives. I think that Old Roedeanians would be really proud that we are able to have this experience of working with boys sometimes.”
Headteacher Oliver Blond said: “We have been running the Roedean Academy for quite a few years now and we just saw no reason why boys from the city couldn’t start enjoying the classes too. They are tackling subjects that stretch and challenge them and go beyond what’s on the curriculum and what they need to know to pass GCSEs. It’s learning just for the love of it – something Roedean has espoused throughout its history – and we have seen children absolutely loving it.”
Martha Morrison and Tinayeishe Mapfumo joined Boris Johnson for Chinese New Year celebrations
TWO Roedean pupils met Prime Minister Boris Johnson at number 10 as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Martha Morrison, 15, and Tinayeishe Mapfumo, 14, travelled to London with their Chinese teacher Lin Wu to take part in a Downing Street reception for the British Chinese community to celebrate the advent of the lunar new year which lasts until February 8.
Some 30 pupils from across the country were chosen to attend and Martha and Tinayeishe were picked by Ms Wu because of their love of learning the language.
Mr Johnson was treated to a performance by bright red and yellow dragons outside his front door before mingling with the pupils and learning how to write Chinese characters by brush pen.
Tinayeishe said: “I really enjoyed visiting 10 Downing Street and seeing the prime minister in person. I felt very special to be one of the children who greeted him in Mandarin and very privileged to have been in the same room him and other important Chinese officials like the Chinese ambassador. The dragon dance was captivating and at the end Boris Johnson painted the eyes of the dragon and it was really interesting to see more of the Chinese culture and tradition. The prime minister seemed very friendly and welcoming and looked like he really enjoyed embracing the Chinese culture. Before he left, he took a picture with all the children and while that picture was being taken he was singing what sounded like a nursery rhyme which was quite interesting.”
Added Martha: “It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I got to try new Chinese foods that I have never tasted before and learn more about Chinese culture. I think being around so many Chinese speaking people has helped me a bit with my learning, as I got to listen to pronunciation. I feel very lucky and grateful to have attended, and it was very inspiring to see Mr Johnson in person.”
Roedean Chinese department was in celebratory mood this week as two of its other pupils beat five million students around the globe to come first and second in the 20th World Chinese Essay Writing Competition.
Year 9 pupil Yoyo Zhang won the global competition with an essay on Confucius while Lareina Yang took second spot.
Gifted Roedean musician wows top uni after just two years of study
Despite only learning how to read notes at 15, Eden Binks has landed a place at Manchester University to study music – the course named in the Sunday Times Good University Guide as the highest-ranking music department in the country.
ROEDEAN sixthformer Eden Binks could not read a single note of music until the age of 15 yet has just learnt she has landed a university place on the country’s top music course.
The 18-year-old was delighted to receive the news that she has an offer from Manchester University to study music – the course was named in the Sunday Times Good University Guide as the highest-ranking music department in the country.
Eden started tinkering with keyboards when she was 11 but rejected formal lessons as “too boring” and determined to teach herself everything she needed to know about playing the piano on Youtube.
By the time she was in Year 10 at her school in Eastbourne, it became clear to her parents Sarah and Jason that their daughter had real talent despite a lack of formal training. They approached Roedean’s music department teachers who were stunned by Eden’s innate abilities and encouraged her to take a crash course in music theory. Six months later, Eden had passed Music Theory Grade Five and was enrolled at Roedean sixth form to study A level music.
Her progress has been so rapid that this spring a new orchestral composition that she has written will be performed at the Brighton Fringe.
Said Sarah: “When we bought her an electric weighted keyboard for her 11th birthday, we also arranged for a 30-minute lesson every Saturday but she hated them! But her love of the music remained and she decided to follow Youtube tutorials to get better.
“She just seemed to love it right from the beginning and studying music A level at Roedean has been amazing. Music teachers Ms Fewkes and Mr Rous have been incredible by encouraging and supporting her to believe more in her natural abilities. They suggested she join the orchestra on percussion, which she loved and this helped her enormously with starting to feel more accomplished when reading music and working within an orchestra. And now they have given her the opportunity to write her own piece to be played at the Brighton Fringe. That shows their level of belief in her, which she has taken with great pride. What a legacy for her to leave Roedean with.”
Eden added: “It has been an amazing journey for me and I can’t wait to start at Manchester. Eventually, I would love to become a producer and composer and hopefully work with a variety of different artists. I have already discussed with Manchester Uni how I could pursue both my degree and a solo career and they said ‘Why don't you pursue your solo career as part of your degree?’ Perfect.”
Olympians arrive for workshop and reveal their happy news...
Roedean's sport ambassadors Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh set to start a family
OLYMPIC gold medalists Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh brought a smile to staff and pupils at Roedean School when they revealed they were expecting a baby.
The celebrated former GB hockey players, who are the first same sex couple to win an Olympic medal together on the same team after taking gold in the Rio 2016 Games, were at the school to deliver a workshop to pupils about appreciating their own strengths and recognizing value in others no matter how different they are.
Helen happily explained she is in her second trimester and the North London pair are looking forward to welcoming the baby at the end of the year. She said: "Yes, we're really excited and a bit nervous about it - but it’s going to be our next big adventure!"
Since retiring from the sport at national level, the sportswomen have been working with schoolchildren across Britain to strengthen their mental resilience classes. The programme was inspired by the culture of the Great Britain hockey team where Kate and Helen gained an appreciation of the different qualities players brought to the side. This is the notion they say they want to bring to schoolchildren who sense of self esteem is often eroded by social media.
Helen said: “Even adults can struggle with the concept that we can all have different strengths and still bring something to the table. I think children are willing to listen to what you have to say and take it on board and it’s wonderful to see them absorbing it. We tell them yes, we played hockey for England and competed in the Olympics but we still made mistakes and beat ourselves up about them. It’s about owning that and recognizing how to harness those feelings for good.”
She added: “It’s important to be comfortable and confident in your own skin. One girl said to me today ‘I know its not my place to say, but congratulations on the baby’ and we said it absolutely is your place!”
TV's Mash Report star has words of wisdom for Roedean girls
Comedian Rachel Parris visited the famous Brighton school to remind pupils to keep their career options open
TV comedian Rachel Parris dropped in on a Brighton school this week to give some stirring advice to young girls about their future.
The Mash Report star told pupils, parents and staff at Roedean’s Speech Day on Saturday that young people should be wary about pinning themselves down to one ambition as they often don’t fit any more as life progresses.
The Oxford graduate, musician and actress told the audience: “Don’t hold on to your dreams too hard because they might not be right for you as you get older. I didn’t plan on being a comedian – and my mum certainly doesn’t think I should be one as ‘it’s dangerous, its not secure financially and my brother’s funnier anyway’ – but it’s what I turned out to like doing after years of being an appalling cocktail waitress and working in arts administration.
“You have got to veer off the path sometimes and try stuff you wouldn’t normally do – even if it’s nothing to do with what you plan to do with your life - because you always learn something about yourself. My hero Julie Walters was a nurse first and – terrifyingly – Harry Hill was a neurosurgeon and still has a licence to practice – so they all veered from their paths to find what they truly loved.”
“Keep your options open, say yes to things you might not think you’d do naturally. You can do more than one thing with your lives and there is nothing more powerful than educated women – don’t have blinkers on because there is so much out there for you to do.”
The words of wisdom went down well – Roedean pupils gave the comedian a riotous standing ovations.
Headmaster Oliver Blond added: “What Rachel said really resonated with the pupils and also the leavers who have gone off to university but are still at the very beginning of their journey. I hope the girls left speech day remembering that life is long and full of opportunities and the more you can say yes to, the greater your chances of discovering what you love.”
Rachel has appeared on panel shows such as Mock The Week, QI and Would I Lie To You as well as starring in Live At The Apollo, Plebs, Murder in Successful and Radio 4’s The Now Show. She is also part of the incredibly successful Edinburgh Fringe Show Austentatious, which has toured nationally to sold-out theatres.
Jeweller to the stars returns to her alma mater, Roedean
Rihanna's favourite designer Anabela Chan set to become Roedean ambassador
A FORMER pupil at Roedean whose design career has seen her creations worn by Hollywood superstars on red carpets around the world is to return to the Brighton school to pass on career tips to current students.
Jeweller Anabela Chan’s exquisite creations have been worn by the likes of Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Ann Hathaway while fashion bible Harper’s Bazaar named her the ‘jewellery designer you need to know’.
Chan left Roedean in 2003 and went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London, winning awards for her work along the way. She was soon snapped up by British design house Alexander McQueen, afterwards setting up her own jewellery line which is adored by glamorous names globally.
Now the designer has been named by the school as Roedean ambassador for creativity, which means she will make regular visits to talk to its pupils and help nurture their talents.
She said: “Roedean instilled me with an ambitious mentality. I remember witnessing a talk by Helen Sharman, the first Briton to go to space, when she opened the new science wing in April 1997. Inspirational speakers at the school encouraged me to strive for what I wanted to achieve. Perhaps most importantly, the art department was so crucial to me. Foundation is important, and Roedean is where I learnt to draw and paint. The art facilities are amazing and such an enjoyable space to work in. I remember Mrs Stanway and Mrs Clancy’s teaching providing me with confidence in my own ability.”
Roedean has also appointed as its STEM ambassador Dr Suzie Imber, who is a university associate professor in planetary science and won the BBC show Astronauts: Do you have what it takes? in 2017. Dr Imber will visit pupils to talk about her career and to promote science at the school.
The school already works with Olympic gold medallist hockey players Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, who are its sports ambassadors.
Headmaster Oliver Blond said: “It’s extremely empowering for the girls to have regular contact with successful and inspirational female role models. This is why holding events like International Women’s Day and hearing visiting speakers is so important. We are very pleased that two new ambassadors will be joining us. Old Roedeanian Anabela Chan is an incredibly successful jewellery designer and has a strong background in art and design while Dr Suzie Imber spoke at the school in March and the girls found her obvious passion for science coupled with her remarkable achievements completely inspirational.”
Ewe've got a deal! Roedean does sheep swap with children’s farming charity
Girls say farewell to beloved sheep but are delighted they'll help other children in the county
AFTER a bountiful lambing season this spring, Roedean School’s farm found itself with excess ewes - so has handed four over to a South Downs farm which helps children with health and behavioural issues.
The independent girls’ school in Brighton swapped its four Welsh Badger Face ewes for four bantam hens with East Clayton Farm, a 120-acre site in the South Downs leased by the charity Lorica in 2004. The site’s farm buildings have been transformed into living accommodation for highly dependent young adults whose health needs mean they need 24/7 care and the farm hosts visits from children with behavioural issues who have trouble settling into school.
Roedean head of experiential learning and experienced shepherd Leland Fieldsend, who runs the farm with some of the pupils, said: “We are delighted that, just as they have here at Roedean, the ewes will make a meaningful difference to young people’s lives; they are brilliantly interactive, and should fit into their new home very well. The bantam hens we received in return are already favourites among the Roedean flock, and we look forward to lots of Roedean eggs!”
Roedean has operated a farm on its site for the last three and a half years, an idea dreamt up by headmaster Oliver Blond to introduce the girls to animal husbandry and better understanding of farm life. Farm prefects are appointed and given responsibilities for the farms’ poultry and sheep, with animal welfare being at the heart of activities. As part of the all pupils’ weekly curriculum, they can choose from a range of lessons and activities during their Head Hand Heart (HHH) period, and many of them choose to work on the farm.
Mr Fieldsend added: “There are loads of activities the girls can do as part of their HHH and the farm option is really popular. They can get outside here on the South Downs, learn about everything from animal husbandry to biodiversity and food security and really get to know the animals. It was the first time we lambed this year, which was a real hit with the girls and it’s proved to be a real success.”
Farm prefect Millie Hoffmann, whose mum Bronwyn Eastwood is the farm vet, said: “We’ll miss the Badgers but we know they are going to a really good home so that has made us feel better.”
East Clayton farm CEO Jean Rolfe added: “The young people who visit East Clayton Farm get so much out of working with the animals and being given responsibility to look after them. We are delighted to receive four new resident ewes who have settled in really quickly and are already becoming firm favourites.”
Roedean pupils sprinkled with West End stardust at workshop
Actress Charlotte Kennedy takes pupils through their paces in Les Mis classes
A WEST END star brought a touch of glamour to Roedean school this term when she held theatre workshops for its pupils.
Charlotte Kennedy, who has just finished playing Cosette in the West End production of Les Miserables, spent the day at the Brighton school with Year 9 and 10s rehearsing the blocking and performance of the song At The End Of The Day from the hit musical.
The school’s theatre director Katy Markey explained: “The whole of Year 9 came today to do this workshop and in groups they had just 50 minutes to learn all the staging and blocking of this song in the original show. They worked incredibly hard and I can see how it lifts their confidence and self-esteem. We are not just concentrating on getting the girls who already love drama to do this – everyone has had a go and experienced what it’s like to get instruction from someone right at the top of her game.”
Charlotte, who first joined Les Mis five years ago at the age of 20 and has enjoyed wide acclaim for the role, said it was tough to learn so much in one session, adding that the exercise was great for all pupils, not just those who wanted a career on the stage.
She said: “This is about acting through song, which is not easy. I’ve seen the girls really blossom today and grow in confidence and that’s wonderful to witness. Often people think that if you didn’t start singing and dancing at an early age then you won't end up doing it for a career but I didn’t really start until I was 15. Then I just fell in love with performing and that was that!
“I hope that by coming along to Roedean and talking about my career and how I got into the West End will inspire girls in whatever they hope to do – its about not giving up and realizing that there will be lots of knock backs but its important to keep on going and accept that rejection is a part of your development.”
Year 10s drama scholars also had the chance to sample some of Charlotte’s expertise as they were given a session on singing the iconic song I Dreamed A Dream.
Pupil Beatrice Shilliam said: “It’s been an amazing experience to be taught by someone like Charlotte who has had West End experience of the original show. It’s been so inspirational because it’s a dream to be in the West End. She was a terrific teacher because she got us to go out of our comfort zone and try something new.”
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