Tessy Ojo Speaks at Roedean School for Black History Month 2023
On 2 October 2023, Roedean School kicked off Black History Month with a lecture from charity executive Tessy Ojo CBE. An exceptional Brighton private school for girls aged 11-18, Roedean celebrates diversity, inclusion, and female excellence.
Roedean School is also one of the leading boarding schools in Brighton, with a vibrant multicultural boarding community. Each year, new girls joining Roedean settle into life in the School’s boarding houses, which Tatler has called “the swankiest boarding facilities in the country, perhaps in the universe.”
The theme of Black History Month 2023, “Saluting our Sisters,” is all about celebrating Black women’s achievements and amplifying their voices. This theme chimes with the lecture Ojo gave at Roedean earlier in October.
Two of Roedean’s diversity prefects introduced Ojo before she delivered her talk in front of the entire school. 50 Year 10 students from local state schools, which are part of the Roedean Academy, also visited the Brighton private school to hear Ojo’s lecture.
During her talk, Ojo spoke about the concept of “becoming.” She explained that each of us is always evolving and assimilating skills and ideas. These skills and ideas form a personal “toolkit” which we can use to enact change in the world.
As we grow, we can also borrow assets from others, so our knowledge and skills become more powerful and effective.
Ojo also encouraged students to channel their audacity. She defined audacity as radical proactivity and the ability to challenge the status quo in the pursuit of better outcomes for all.
To illustrate her point, Ojo played a video that featured the voices of young Black people sharing their negative school experiences. As the CEO of The Diana Award, Ojo oversees a programme that challenges racism in UK schools and encourages young people to aspire to greater things.
The final principle Ojo discussed in her Roedean talk was “curiosity.” Staying curious can help us ask questions, notice others, expand our focus, and stay proactive in ensuring inclusion is the norm. Ojo emphasised that everyone deserves a place at the table in modern society, regardless of ethnicity, background, gender, or orientation.
Lastly, Ojo called on students to be “upstanders,” not bystanders, and challenge behaviour that excludes others.
The topics of Ojo’s lecture — personal development, curiosity, and outspokenness in the pursuit of equality — are values that Roedean School advocates for. The Brighton private school supports and inspires each girl to be:
- Happy. Roedean girls enjoy their education and thrive as individuals. Students learn to develop healthy, balanced approaches to their well-being during their time at the School.
- Curious. Roedean School helps girls develop their intellectual curiosity, interests, and academic rigour. A deep curiosity can instil a lifelong love of learning in young people.
- Engaged. Roedean encourages students to engage in a range of activities and opportunities beyond the curriculum to grow their interests and talents.
- Creative and independent. Roedean students learn creative, critical, and independent thinking skills. These skills help girls develop their resilience and ability to enjoy challenges.
- Confident. By building their self-belief, Roedean girls feel confident in expressing themselves and know that anything is possible.
- Compassionate. Roedean teaches girls a sense of active social responsibility, respect for others, and generosity of spirit.
Roedean is not only a leading Brighton private school; it’s also one of the top boarding schools in Brighton. Roedean offers boarding for all ages, with age-appropriate settings for all year groups, from junior boarders to Sixth Formers.
There are often over 330 girls staying on the School site at weekends, enjoying activities on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Families can choose from several boarding options — including full, weekly, and flexi-boarding — to find the ideal boarding choice for their daughters.
Many girls start with weekly or flexi-boarding to sample the boarding experience. As they grow in confidence and independence, girls may choose to board more often, sharing the experience with friends.
Roedean’s latest Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) report highlights the School’s inclusive, diverse reputation as a boarding school in Brighton.
“The multicultural nature of the boarding community is a distinctive feature of the school,” the ISI report states. “Boarders of all ages speak of their joy of being part of a society that is rooted in so many nationalities.”
Roedean’s student population represents 50 countries and nationalities, and girls display the utmost respect for each other’s cultures and values.
For girls unused to staying away from home for more than a few nights, boarding can be a big change. That’s why Roedean School ensures each new boarder feels welcome and has plenty of opportunities to make friends and get settled.
During the first few weeks of the 2023 autumn term, boarders at Roedean have enjoyed:
- Movie nights.
- Cooking and baking.
- Self-care activities, such as wearing facemasks.
- Playing games like pictionary and skittles.
- A Harry Potter-themed evening.
- Making and trading friendship bracelets.
- Foraging for blackberries.
- Arts and crafts nights.
- Swimming in the pool.
The boarding school in Brighton is just a few minutes away from the vibrant seaside city. Boarders have explored the shops and cultural attractions in Brighton’s buzzing centre.
In addition, each of Roedean’s six boarding houses has celebrated various occasions, such as Culture Day, Mexican Independence Day, and Nigerian Independence Day.
On 29 September 2023, House 1 marked the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, a culturally significant festival in China. Girls celebrated with a lantern riddles quiz, a night-time lantern walk, and traditional Chinese moon-cakes.
Roedean School is a dynamic Brighton private school that offers students a broad co-curricular programme. Roedean girls enjoy abundant opportunities to develop beyond the classroom in areas like sports, music, and the performing arts.
Roedean’s drama department began the 2023-24 academic year with a trip to London to see Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre. In addition, Roedean’s A Level drama students saw Metamorphosis at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing, West Sussex.
Roedean is also unique amongst Brighton private schools in offering its Year 7 students a Wild Fridays programme. Each half-term, the School offers students 24 different activities to try, including bushcraft, farming, mountain biking, and meteorology. Wild Fridays see students immerse themselves in the great outdoors, appreciating nature and developing new skills.
On one Wild Friday in October 2023, Year 7 students set out in the sunshine for an afternoon of sailing. The girls practised tacking and adjusting the sails in preparation for future Wild Fridays out on the water.
Roedean School is an all-girls independent day and boarding school in Brighton. Founded in 1885 by the Lawrence sisters, Roedean provides an exceptional, holistic education for girls, helping them grow into well-rounded, confident, capable young women.
Roedean consistently excels in public exam results. In 2023, 57.8% of Roedean’s Year 11 students received 9-8 Grades in their GCSEs, with 32.1% of all results at Grade 9. 74.3% of GCSE examinations were Grades 9-7.
At A Level, 28.2% of all grades were A* and 55.5% were A*-A. 73% of Roedean’s 2023 cohort achieved the grades for their first-choice university in 2023, including Oxbridge.
Learn more about Roedean School’s aims and vision.