In November, Oliver Blond, Headmaster, along with three members of staff and sixteen pupils set off on an ambassadorial trip to our sister school, Roedean, South Africa.
The aim of the trip was to reconnect with an important and fascinating part of the Roedean story, to meet with counterparts face-to-face and to build a lasting partnership.
On arriving at the School, there were visible echoes of our own School in the style of the architecture and the girls clearly made immediate connections with each other. The climate, however, was quite different, and Roedean, SA, has the most beautiful grounds and gardens which have been lovingly cared for and developed over the last hundred years into spectacular floral displays.
A joint assembly ensued and the Headmaster and Head of School, Lucy Brown, were able to address the School. In his address, Oliver Blond reflected on the description of the founders of Roedean, SA, Theresa Lawrence and Katherine Margaret Earle, given by Dame Emmeline Tanner, when she visited the School in 1952:
‘They had much in common, these two: an excellent cultural background, a love of beauty, complete freedom from pettiness, wide sympathies and a regard for essentials, and yet they were so different in their individual qualities and characteristics; in many ways each was the perfect complement of the other.’
Mr Blond reflected: ‘I can clearly see how much we mirror each other. It was most visible in how quickly the girls have bonded, but it is in our name, our school badge, our motto, and our educational heritage. We bear a striking family resemblance. But we have also been inspired by our differences. You still wear a uniform that echoes the original Djibah. Your pupils curtsy and sing school songs that were part of our tradition, in the not too distant past. We hope that our schools in working together in the future can be the perfect complement of each other and host each other’s staff and students so that we learn more about you and your wonderful home here and we share more about ourselves and our home.’
Mr Blond was also able to meet and make a connection with Lindsay Lawrence, the President of the South Africa Old Roedeanian Association, who has invited the School to attend their annual Foundation Day, when the school and old girls get together. Through this meeting, we will hope to put our two ORAs in contact so that they can discuss how best to serve all their members.
As visitors, the School was treated with great kindness. The girls all stayed as guests of host families and everyone had the opportunity to visit lessons and share ideas. The culmination of the trip was the creation of partnership ideas. There is hope of developing trips, exchanges, pen pal schemes and projects based around social responsibility. We do hope to welcome our sister school to Roedean in the near future.