Roedean School

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Roedean School
Roedean school.jpg
Roedean School
Roedean Way

, ,

Coordinates 50°48′43″N0°05′06″W / 50.812°N 0.085°W / 50.812; -0.085 Coordinates: 50°48′43″N0°05′06″W / 50.812°N 0.085°W / 50.812; -0.085
Type Independent day and boarding school
MottoHonneur aulx dignes
("Honour the worthy")
Religious affiliation(s) Church of England
Local authority Brighton and Hove
Department for Education URN 114616 Tables
President of TrusteesLady Patten of Barnes
HeadmasterOliver Blond
Age11to 18
Colour(s)Blue and White   
Former pupils Old Roedeanians

Roedean School is an independent day and boarding school founded in 1885 in Roedean Village on the outskirts of Brighton, East Sussex, England, and governed by Royal Charter. It is for girls aged 11 to 18. The campus is situated near the Sussex Downs, on a cliff overlooking Brighton Marina and the English Channel.


The school incorporates dance studios, music classrooms, a 320-seat theatre, a heated indoor swimming pool, a golf course, a private tunnel to the beach, a farm and a chapel, as well as a range of workshops, studios, laboratories and sports pitches. It is also well-provisioned with a variety of classrooms.

Roedean School is a member of the Girls' Schools Association and the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC). The Good Schools Guide stated that the "School has a healthy spirit and much to offer." [1] The Independent Schools Inspectorate rated Roedean as Excellent in all areas (highest category) in its most recent inspection (March 2016). [2]


The school was founded in 1885 as Wimbledon House by three sisters: Penelope, Millicent, and Dorothy Lawrence. [3] Their brother was the lawyer Sir Paul Lawrence of Wimbledon, who helped them considerably. Their Lawrence great aunts had been noted school teachers earlier in the century, mainly in Liverpool. Roedean was founded to prepare girls for entrance to the newly opened women's colleges at Cambridge University, Girton (now co-ed) and Newnham Colleges. [4] In 1898, the school moved to its present site, occupying new buildings designed by the architect Sir John Simpson. A sister school, also called Roedean School and co-founded by the youngest Lawrence sister, Theresa, in 1903, is located in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The school motto, Honneur aulx dignes, is in Norman French, and means "Honour the worthy". When pronounced, it sounds like "Honour Roedean". [5]

In 1924 the Lawrence sisters were replaced by Emmeline Mary Tanner who became the new head. She had been poached from Bedford High School by Penelope Lawrence as their successor. [6]

During the Second World War, the students and staff were temporarily evacuated to Keswick, in the north of England. The school buildings in Brighton, Sussex were used by the Admiralty. [7] [8] They adapted it for use by Navy cadets attending the Mining and Torpedo School (known as HMS Vernon). Roedean is one of the few girls' schools in the country to have an Old Boys' Association. [9]

The artist Percy Shakespeare was killed by a German bomb while serving at Roedean. [10]

Absorption of St Mary's Hall

Inspired by his friend William Carus-Wilson, who founded Cowan Bridge School, Reverend Henry Venn Elliott proposed to found a similar school for the county. St Mary's Hall was opened in 1836 and was the second-oldest girls' school in the United Kingdom before it was closed in 2009. [11] At that time, its junior section became Roedean's junior school while many senior girls transferred to Roedean. The junior school was closed in 2011 as the school administration decided to focus on secondary and sixth form education. [12] [13]


Roedean School is set in 118 acres (48 ha) of grounds off Roedean Way, at the top of a cliff on the Sussex Downs overlooking the sea, approximately in line with Brighton Marina.

Academic results

In 2019, 56% of Roedean pupils scored A*-A for their A-Levels examination, whereas 68% scored A*-A for their GCSEs. [14]


The school community is divided into houses.

The Lawrence and Tanner House (with Senior and Junior wings) system, introduced in 2005, was reversed starting in 2010. A numbered house system was reintroduced. Roedean school has the longest corridor in England.[ citation needed ]

Year 7 to Year 11 students are spread out amongst Houses 1, 2, 3, and 4. These are named after the house numbers 1–4 of Lewes Crescent, where the School was located prior to moving in 1898 to this campus built for it.

Sixth form (Years 12–13) are admitted to Keswick House and Lawrence House, which are detached from the main school building.

In the 1960s, the houses were: Junior House; House Number 1; House Number 2; House Number 3; House Number 4; and a Sanatorium. In 1966 part of the Sanatorium was made into rooms for VIth form girls, two VI form girls from every numbered house. The School retains a sanatorium wing (now known as a health centre) to this day.

Admission procedures

Roedean is a selective school, and entry to the school is based upon various examinations, interviews and reports from the girls' previous schools. Entry at 11+ and 13+ is through the Common Entrance Examination or the Schools own entrance exams Applicants of 11+ and 13+ who are unable to take the Common Entrance Examination, those wishing to enter at 12+ and 14+ and overseas applicants may sit the Roedean entrance examination. [15]

Notable alumni

Past pupils are known as Old Roedeanians and include:


Healthcare and education

Journalism and literature

Military and sport

Politics and activism


Theatre, television, and film

Roedeanians in fiction

See also

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