» Designs of a duchess

The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk are pure A-list, appearing in Tatler’s Top Ten Most Invited. But the hottest events of the summer are held at their own home at Arundel Castle as part of the town’s celebrated festival, as the Duchess of Norfolk reveals to Ian Trevett

The Duchess of Norfolk
Nestling directly above Ben and Kate Goldsmith, Keira Knightly and Elle Macpherson, at eighth place in Tatler’s Hot 100 are the parents of five children, who have established themselves as one of the friendliest and most popular couples an the A-List Circuit. The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk may not be as instantly recognisable as many of the big-name celebrities on the 2006 list, but according to Tatler, they are one of the couples that are on every guest list. "Cosy up to the country’s top catholic twosome," proclaims the society bible. "They’re a breath of modernity in the 1,000-year-old castle, Arundel."

Fireworks at the castle during the festival

They may be one of the ‘most invited’ but its difficult to imagine how the Duke and Duchess have time to accept many invitations. As well as looking after the magnificent castle, attending to the myriad of charity commitments, and organising the headline events for the recent Arundel Festival, there is a small matter of raising five children, whose ages range from 19-year-old Henry, down to ten-year-old Philip. However, the Duchess was still able to make time to invite me into the family wing of the castle to chat about the festival, the incredible and often deadly-dangerous family history and their life in the castle.

It is easy to see why the Duke and Duchess are such popular company. Despite the splendour of the surroundings, the welcome is warm and relaxed. Dressed casually in jeans and an elegantly frilled shirt and cardigan, the Duchess immediately dispenses with rules of etiquette and asks to be called Georgina, rather than the formal ‘Your Grace’. So laid back is Georgina, that the first time we met at a festival launch, I chatted easily with her, totally unaware of her title. The Duke (or Eddie) is just as approachable.

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» An inspector calls

In May 2007, Roedean received a visit from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). Here is a summary of what they had to say

Roedean School

Roedean is very successful in its aims to provide a stimulating, academic education and exciting extra-curricular opportunities. These are achieved by a combination of strong academic and pastoral support and the special factor of the richly cosmopolitan pupil population. The school shows a very high commitment to preparing its pupils for their lives at university and in the wider world. Levels of achievement are high, pupils are encouraged to explore their talents, strive for excellence and develop their intellectual curiosity.

The quality of pupils’ attitude to work is high. They come to lessons expecting to work hard. They are articulate, listen carefully, write fluently, read intelligently and argue cogently. They have fun in lessons and, in a relaxed atmosphere, feel confident to risk their ideas and have them challenged by others.

The school’s aim to ‘establish multicultural understanding and respect’ is reflected in the relationships amongst pupils originating from over 40 countries. Within this community pupils develop very high levels of confidence and selfworth. They have a strong spiritual awareness, their social development is excellent and their social skills highly developed. They are lively yet courteous. Pupils’ cultural awareness is outstanding. "Remember we have grown up together" was a typical comment "and it is great having friends from all over the world." Roedean’s ethos of inclusiveness means that pupils are able to express themselves openly, with confidence, in the many academic, sporting and creative activities in which they can participate, whatever their level of ability.
Roedean school
Staff teach effectively and are successful in promoting pupils’ learning and achievements, and in contributing to strong performance in public examinations at GCSE and A level. A feature of the best teaching is the class discussions, which encourage pupils to debate ideas and concepts and think and learn for themselves. Teachers convey authority and enthusiasm, and display a wealth of knowledge well beyond their own subject. This contributes to the positive way pupils respond to the teaching. Relationships between staff and pupils are excellent.

"Don’t be afraid to walk on the wild side. Don’t be afraid to sing the loudest. Don’t be afraid to be creative. Don’t be afraid to be a friend. Don’t be afraid to be yourself"

Parents made highly favourable comments, describing the pupils as happy and confident. They also commented on the friendly and supportive atmosphere in the school. Pupils across the school said that they felt well supported and could have open conversations with the staff. In essence, Roedean has developed a school community at ease with itself. Parents saw their daughters as ‘children of the world’ and were delighted by this aspect of their education. Behaviour in the school is exemplary. Pupils are courteous and considerate of other people, showing respect for staff and each other. The atmosphere of support, friendship, individuality and fun was encapsulated in the verse written by one Year 7 pupil: "Don’t be afraid to walk on the wild side/Don’t be afraid to sing the loudest /Don’t be afraid to be creative/Don’t be afraid to be a friend/Don’t be afraid to be yourself."

For the full report visit www.roedean.co.uk

» Saintly scholars

For the fifth consecutive year, final year pupils at St Andrew’s School, Meads have won in excess of 20 scholarships, exhibitions and allround awards to a variety of top senior schools including Eastbourne College, Sevenoaks, Moira House Girls’ School and St Bede’s The Dicker. This year’s total of 30 awards is believed to represent an all-time high for the school. The awards include ten academic scholarships and exhibitions, four music scholarships and exhibitions, three all round awards, seven sports scholarships and exhibitions, four art scholarships and exhibitions, one drama scholarship and one drama exhibition.

St. Andrew's School

Katie Wicks excelled by being named a ‘Forbes Wastie Scholar’ having won a major music scholarship and an academic exhibition to Eastbourne College. Tom Biltcliffe, also going to Eastbourne College, was made a ‘Forbes Wastie exhibitioner’ for his outstanding efforts in sport and academic work, whilst Natalie Pollard was awarded a sport and music exhibition to Moira House. Max Kotz, who gained a music scholarship to Sevenoaks School, is excited about moving there but will miss St Andrew’s. He said, "I will miss all my friends and the teachers at St Andrew’s as I have been here since Reception and so I do feel a little nervous. I will also miss the wonderful sport and range of activities that we can all take part in here."

Headmaster Jeremy Griffith said: "It’s been an awesome year for scholarships and other awards and I’d like to congratulate all those who’ve worked so hard to achieve these fine results. Such success, in so many different disciplines, demonstrates our belief in a broad curriculum which allows children to develop their talents to the full. It also says a great deal about the quality of our staff whose ability to inspire and guide their pupils is an equal source of pride to me."

St Andrew’s is Eastbourne’s leading standalone preparatory school for girls and boys aged 2 - 13. Please call the school office on 01323 733203 and ask to speak with Sue Offord for more details or to arrange a visit.

In the last five years more than 150 scholarships and awards have been won to the following schools: Battle Abbey, Beechwood, Benenden, Brighton College, Bryanston, Buckswood, Clifton College, Eastbourne, Harrow, Hurstpierpoint, King’s Canterbury, Lancing, Millfield, Moira House, Oundle, Roedean, St Bede’s The Dicker, St Leonard’s Mayfield, Wells Cathedral, Westminster.

St Andrew’s School, Meads, Eastbourne,
East Sussex BN20 7RP

» Go East

Eastbourne College benefits from being in a beautiful part of the town of Eastbourne, near enough for pupils to enjoy the town at appropriate times and next to the sea and the Sussex Downs. This is a fully co-educational, seven-day school where life-long friendships are forged. We believe whole-heartedly in the benefits of co-education and the boarding school day, which allows over 300 boarders and 300 day pupils to enjoy the widest possible range of opportunities not just in their academic studies, but also in sport, music, drama and a whole host of activities. With up to five teams per year group in any sport, it would be unusual for a pupil not to represent the College at some stage.
Eastbourne College
At a time when weekly and flexi-boarding are taking the heart out of weekend boarding, Eastbourne College still offers a full boarding ethos both at weekends and during the week. Day pupils are fully involved until 8pm and join in Saturday morning school and afternoon matches as well as other week-end concerts, drama, socialising or activities.

This is a fizzing school, where individuality is prized, and boys and girls develop into responsible, inquiring and considerate adults, confident but not arrogant. It is a hugely busy community, united by shared values and underpinned by a palpable friendliness.

» www.eastbourne-college.co.uk