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Roedean vs. Benenden

Between Roedean and Benenden, which of these two exclusive, all-girls boarding schools is considered the more prestigious and more British?

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Reply 1
Traditionally speaking, I'm told it always used to be Roedean. However, it's been slipping further downward the last few years. I'm told they compounded their problem by recruiting a large percentage of Asian girls - largely from China - in the hopes of raising their nationwide competitive test scores. However, I hear this has given the place an altogether different atmosphere than it was in years past. Many of the girls have closed ranks around nationality and the Asian penchant for competition and insane work rates leave many of the British girls feeling out of place and alienated in their own land. All work and no play may be the norm in China, but most of the British girls find all the emphasis on math, sciences a little intimidating. The arts and the humanities have taken a back seat, and time for just plain old-fasioned day dreaming seems to have disappeared, as students are kept busy and active around the clock. The cut-throat style competitiveness ethos now instilled seems to gall most British girls, who are generally brought up in a culture of fair play and where comraderie is encouraged. The Asian influx may have beefed up Roedean's sagging test scores, but it came at a hefty price. This once quintessential British institution is looking far less English today.:frown:
Reply 2
Word on the street amongst my friends daughters these days is that Roedean is essentially an all Chinese math/science factory, and the competition level is incredably cut-throat. I hear Benenden is still largely English in character and student demographics, but you have to realise all these top independent schools these days will be loaded with international students from wealthy overseas families where the work ethic is insane compared to our more relaxed and balanced view of work and production. Consequently, there will be en element of pushiness and pressure on their daughters for over-achieving--sometimes at the expense of being a team player or socialising in extra-curricular activities with the British students.
Reply 3
benenden would probably be more fun
Reply 4
benenden is very international too guys dunno what youre talking about. i went to their leavers ball and there were so many chinese girls
Reply 5
Are Downe House, St. Swithun's and St. Mary's Calne still mostly Home Counties English girls or have they too gone the bring up the test scores by recruiting the Chinese route?
Reply 6
Original post by Timon
Are Downe House, St. Swithun's and St. Mary's Calne still mostly Home Counties English girls or have they too gone the bring up the test scores by recruiting the Chinese route?


I'm told Cheltenham Ladies College and Wycombe Abbey have taken the China road as of late too.
Reply 7
Original post by HonestBob
Traditionally speaking, I'm told it always used to be Roedean. However, it's been slipping further downward the last few years. I'm told they compounded their problem by recruiting a large percentage of Asian girls - largely from China - in the hopes of raising their nationwide competitive test scores. However, I hear this has given the place an altogether different atmosphere than it was in years past. Many of the girls have closed ranks around nationality and the Asian penchant for competition and insane work rates leave many of the British girls feeling out of place and alienated in their own land. All work and no play may be the norm in China, but most of the British girls find all the emphasis on math, sciences a little intimidating. The arts and the humanities have taken a back seat, and time for just plain old-fasioned day dreaming seems to have disappeared, as students are kept busy and active around the clock. The cut-throat style competitiveness ethos now instilled seems to gall most British girls, who are generally brought up in a culture of fair play and where comraderie is encouraged. The Asian influx may have beefed up Roedean's sagging test scores, but it came at a hefty price. This once quintessential British institution is looking far less English today.:frown:


I'm at Roedean in the Sixth form now, and this is sadly the case, only one eight of the girls in Six One are English/American/ nowadays. :sad:

<3 x
Reply 8
I suppose if a girl is looking for the more traditional British all-girl's boarding school environment that emphasises British vales and culture these high-pressure League Table champions are out of the question. Obviously Roedean, Cheltenham Ladies College, Wycombe Abbey, etc. are all about topping the League Table and bringing in the most foreign money they can get their hands on. You're probably better off at the more Second-Tier Schools for the real British experience. Places like St. Mary's Calne, Downe House, Badminton, St. Catherine's Guildford, St. George's Ascot, and The Royal School in Haslemere. Perhaps the last of the top flight all-girls British independent boarding schools not to have sold out for the Chinese and other foreign sources of money might be Benenden, but I haven't heard that yet from anyone with a thorough knowledge of the school. I've only heard it in social conversation amongst parents.

Any Benenden people out there who could enlighten us?
Reply 9
Roedean WAS considered more prestigious and British up until the 90's, "the female Eton", but now it has fallen the Chinese way. However the standard of Chinese girls imported to Roedean has slipped catastrophically, hence the school has followed suit.

P.S. the (fairly) new top management team, has perhaps hackled too many feathers. :frown:

<3 x
Reply 10
Original post by LETSJaM
Roedean WAS considered more prestigious and British up until the 90's, "the female Eton", but now it has fallen the Chinese way. However the standard of Chinese girls imported to Roedean has slipped catastrophically, hence the school has followed suit.

P.S. the (fairly) new top management team, has perhaps hackled too many feathers. :frown:

<3 x


Thank-you for the informative reply. What about boarding schools such as St. Swithun's in Winchester, St. Mary's Calne, Downe House, Badminton, St. Catherine's Guildford, St. George's Ascot, and The Royal School in Haslemere, have they become Chinese maths/science factories as well, or have they retained their dignified British orientation and focus on British culture and not succombed to the foreign money? I find nothing wrong with offering Mandarin Chinese as one of many languages available to study, but to force all students to take it as a rule, as does Roedean these days, is not my idea of what a British liberal arts education is all about. The arts and humanities, as subjects of learning, must not take a back seat to Maths and Science. And any emphasis placed on cut-throat competition is demmeaning to the students. This business of all work and no play is unhealthy. Too much work stifles creativity and mandating conformity over celebrating individuality may work for the Asian culture, but thankfully we in the West believe in critical thinking and questioning authority, and not seeing education as a competition or a tool to prepare people for a grueling live of being nothing more than a work drone.:rolleyes:
Reply 11
Original post by HonestBob
I suppose if a girl is looking for the more traditional British all-girl's boarding school environment that emphasises British vales and culture these high-pressure League Table champions are out of the question. Obviously Roedean, Cheltenham Ladies College, Wycombe Abbey, etc. are all about topping the League Table and bringing in the most foreign money they can get their hands on. You're probably better off at the more Second-Tier Schools for the real British experience. Places like St. Mary's Calne, Downe House, Badminton, St. Catherine's Guildford, St. George's Ascot, and The Royal School in Haslemere. Perhaps the last of the top flight all-girls British independent boarding schools not to have sold out for the Chinese and other foreign sources of money might be Benenden, but I haven't heard that yet from anyone with a thorough knowledge of the school. I've only heard it in social conversation amongst parents.

Any Benenden people out there who could enlighten us?

Benenden has always had a maximum quota of 20% foreign students - these girls do not all come from China - also Kenya, Thailand, Australia, France, etc. Also every single girl is a full boarder (no day girls, no girls boarding on a weekly basis) - the only genuine girls boarding school left in the UK. Roedean is more like an international school - some may prefer that - but it is certainly no longer a traditional British girls' boarding school.
(edited 11 years ago)
Reply 12
My daughter attends Roedean. Previously, she was at another boarding school, which is a traditional English/British school. During the time she was there the school they 'created' a separate Math/Sciences class for the Asian girls, as they were so strong. My daughter chose to leave this school and opted instead for Roedean which has several large departments focusing in Math/Sciences. Also the destination of school leavers tend to get into the top ten Unis in the country. Roedean is an international school, where there is a successful blend of nationalities and my daughter has fitted in quite well. She prospers from the Asian ‘focus’ as well as still being able to chill out with the large number of extracurricular activities and sporting facilities that are available. My husband and I chose this school not because of networking connections so that she could find herself a prince but for her to get a good education so that she will be able to take part in a competitive. We also looked at Downe House #just months before the Kate Middleton bullying revelation#, really nice, posh and some foreigners, but not many. But my daughter felt that Roedean was accommodating and so far, we feel that we have made the right choice.
Reply 13
Original post by HonestBob
I find nothing wrong with offering Mandarin Chinese as one of many languages available to study, but to force all students to take it as a rule, as does Roedean these days, is not my idea of what a British liberal arts education is all about. The arts and humanities, as subjects of learning, must not take a back seat to Maths and Science.
If you value arts and humanities then surely you should value compulsory Chinese. They're requiring that every student have a foreign language as a part of their education. Chinese - with a long social and cultural history, as well as a large body of poetry and prose - seems as good a choice as any.
(edited 11 years ago)
Reply 14
Sorry that you felt this. My daughter has just completed her two years there and says she enjoyed the experience. I guess the 'problem' now is will she get those grades and which Uni will she go to!
Original post by Heytherehello
Okay, i'll tell it straight. I am going to be going into the first year of sixth form at Roedean in September after having been there for 3 years and I am already wishing that i had left. The school is Chinese. Mrs King lies and says it's 50% english, 50% international when really she means 85% Chinese, 5% other international and 10% English. That is not an exaggeration. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON ROEDEAN. If i had known what it would have been like I would never had come 3 years ago. Even the Chinese girls don't like the school; one of them told me she's leaving because her English has gotten worse because she only speaks mandarin. Furthermore, the school has no discipline. There is such a hostile, cold feeling i get about the school now because nobody speaks english. The girls are told to speak english, and they ignore the teachers, some girls literally verbally abuse the teachers and they do nothing about it which highly disrupts the lessons. In addition, the girls are snobs and think they are above the teachers and some other girls. Also, In my up and coming academic year, 85% of English girls have left to go to sixth form colleges and i wish i had joined them. Finally, the teaching is AWFUL. I really was shocked when i came to Roedean in my first week how little i had learned; however now i have just become jaded and expect the bad teaching which is really unacceptable when you're paying £30k + a year for an education. There are only a few accessions to the bad teaching (a few english teachers, the history department, the classics department and perhaps a few others) but if you want to do well in sciences and maths and you're not naturally talented, don't expect to. You won't get any extra help because the teachers have become so complacent. The science teachers hardly do anything because the Chinese girls have already learned the syllabuses and I once asked a maths teacher for extra help after class for 30mins and she said no, because she wanted to go home, leaving me to have to go to after school clinics (lead by chinese girls who are not teachers!) and get a school tutor (£35 for 45 minutes!). If you want to do well at Roedean, you will have to be so independent; you can't expect your teachers to go the extra mile for you, which is ridiculous considering the fact that the school has such his expectations for you to do well. Another example being that 8 days before one of my GCSE exams, the teacher realised she forgot to teach us one of the required topics. Oh, I almost forgot-The sport. That is an absolute joke. The school sport is so terrible, i'm in the netball team and we have about on average 3 matches a term if that. The previous year, for rounders, we had one match the entire season. Also, they don't even have rounders teams for U5, 61 and 62. The sports department is suffering because they simply don't have the girls, and do you know why? Because they are all Asian! 4 years ago, the netball team came 2nd in the National Championships, no we are lucky to win a match. It's really terrible considering the fact that they have such amazing facilities. If you are considering Roedean, don't. I have hardly any english people to talk to anymore, and also the house staff are not welcoming or kind. I have a terrrible example of this, but if i said it; the school would know who i am if they ever read this! Please, please don't waste your money on Roedean, it is so terrible and if someone had told me what i know now, i wouldn't have come. Don't waste your money, there are so many better schools.


This is what happens when the middle-classes are allowed to take over, things get nauseatingly trendy. Roedean was once the female Eton, but not anymore. Such a shame. The powers that be decided to chase foreign money as opposed to preserving a distinguished institution. This business of forcing every student to learn Mandarin reminds me of the hysteria from the middle-classes in the 1980s when they forced so many of their children to learn Japanese. Remember, they were once supposed to take over the world. Well, that's at least how the uber-hip, Guardianistas from North London saw it. My friends say Roedean is finished. So many of their mother's, grandmother's and great-grand-mother's all attended Roedean, but none would enroll there today. Cheltenham Ladies College, Wycombe Abbey, Downe House, Benenden and St Swithun's are now the school's of choice. Such a pity.
My sister tells me Roedean has gone back to being more of the old traditional English girl's school it once was under this new Head. The North London Guardianista uber-trendiness feel of the place vanished after they got rid of the last Head. Ruffled too many feathers and tried turning Roedean into something it wasn't. Many of the old guard resisted and finally brought in a new Head to take it back on the old Roedean path. Funny how the Chinese stopped applying and the old English families rediscovered the school.
Benenden is quintessentially British-think along the lines of Malory Towers. It has a good balance of overseas students-but no more than 20%. It is great fun, and the teachers are amazing. Its like being inside the Enid Blyton novel.
Hi, I go to Benenden and I promise that it is better by far than any competition in the form of Rodean and Wycombe Abbey. I looked at both of these schools before making a final decision and Rodean was definitely the weakest of them all. I enquired as to where their Design Technology centre was and found that at Rodean they had little more than knitting and sewing facilities. The girls there are encouraged to be 'girly' and are not enrolled in any schemes to widen their horizons. They have been arguably overthrown by the Chinese who have brought their average down. At Benenden, the pupils are diverse without going too far. In my year about 12 girls are Asian which is not very many. Granted this number suddenly increases at the sixth form in take. Benenden is a more rounded school which allows its pupils to have more fun and enjoy their time whilst also preparing them for life beyond school. My only criticism is that it is in the middle of nowhere.
This is nonsense. When I looked around Roedean the girls in DT had been making electric guitars from scratch, designing and building their own chairs and building skateboards! Roedean's recent ISI inspection rated it as excellent in all areas; the highest grade possible. I agree that Roedean is quite 'girly', I but so is Benenden, Heathfield, St Swithuns etc. Why? Because they are girls' schools.

Roedean is a super school and by far the best known all girls boarding school in the country (and probably internationally).

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