A Brighton school has won praise from the statesman, author and academic Lord Patten of Barnes.
Lord Patten – also known as Chris Patten – paid tribute to “Roedean’s terrific education” and the remarkable achievements of the school and its girl.
At the school’s speech day he urged pupils: “Don’t settle for second best.”
As a former Conservative cabinet minister, European Commissioner and the last Governor of Hong Kong, he was well placed to deliver a speech entitled “The world you will shape”.
Many of the 400 girls at Roedean come to the school from abroad and the school has strong international links.
Lord Patten, now serving as chancellor of Oxford University, addressed an audience of more than 750 – pupils, parents, staff and guests – at the speech day on Saturday.
He encouraged the audience to think about how to work across national boundaries.
He urged them to learn from other countries and to compete with them more effectively on the world stage.
He acknowledge that Roedean was world famous for its outstanding track record in achievement and top results in A levels, particularly in the sciences.
Lord Patten touched on two topical debates in the education world.
He advocated the value of “rigorous” A Levels and the first-class education at Roedean, adding: “I think it’s remarkable how much emphasis Roedean puts on maths and sciences.
“You wouldn’t find a girl doing physics A level in a lot of schools in this country.”
Twenty six girls – or about one in three – who left the school this year went on to study a science, technology, engineering or mathematical subject at a leading university.
More than half of the girls who went on from Roedean in the summer are now at the country’s top Russell Group universities.
In the week when 50,000 people took part in a protest against tuition fees, Lord Patten’s other topical contribution touched on tuition fees.
He said: “I’ve always been in favour of bigger tuition fees.
“If you want my honest opinion, I don’t think there should be a cap on tuition fees at all.
“We only spend 1.3 per cent of our total output on higher education in comparison with America, which spends 2.9 per cent.”
Lord Patten’s advice to the leaving sixth form girls in his speech was: “You have had the opportunity for a terrific education at Roedean.
“Work hard, do well, and go to university to do the course you want to do.
“Don’t settle for second best.”
Frances King, headmistress of Roedean, said: “We were delighted to welcome Lord Patten and benefit from his huge insights and vision for young people.”
Mrs King added: “He endorsed Roedean’s commitment to educating global citizens through our networks of educational collaborations in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.”