The headmistress of Roedean School has taken aim at the nation’s “hostility towards public schools” as she quits her top job.

After five years at the helm of the leading independent girls’ school, Frances King is leaving Sussex to run a college in Switzerland.

She said it has been “quite hard work” given the hostile climate towards independent schools.

But headteachers at other prestigious public schools in the county have questioned her comments.

Mrs King told a national newspaper: “In the UK the independent sector has gone through quite a bruising time and I can’t see that changing.

“The Government cannot afford to be supportive.

“The media, when it likes to, commends what the independent schools are doing but more likely is looking at the wider context of national provision for education and it is quite hard work to continue to be always on the negative side of public opinions.

“We are putting our heart, soul and effort into this provision.

“We are making sure we have got a good amount of money put into bursaries and, as much as we can afford in our situation, we are trying to ensure we are widening access.”

But, she added, it was “hard work” feeling that independent schooling is not something the nation approved of.

Wonderful years

The former head of Heathfield School for Girls in Ascot will leave in the summer to become the director of Collège Alpin Beau Soleil.

She told The Argus: “I have had a wonderful five years at Roedean and shall leave the UK with many very fond memories of the colleagues - and students - I have worked with here. Together we put our heart and soul into offering high-quality education which is a meaningful preparation for life.

“However, education is a global commodity and I am excited to be moving to an environment where I can participate in a wider educational debate.”

Mrs King’s concerns were not echoed by other independent schools in Sussex.

'Hostile attitude'

Headteacher of Lancing College Jonathan Gillespie said: “I don’t agree with that as a position in terms of my experience of leading an independent school.

“If there is a hostile attitude it’s not born out in terms of interest in places - demand for places in my school and many others is very high.”

Mark Beard, deputy headmaster of Brighton College, added applications for places at their school are at an all time high.

He said: “The huge interest in boarding places, particularly from families across the South East, at Brighton College has led to the building of an additional boarding house to accommodate demand.

“Independent schools that demonstrate they are a part of society rather than apart from it, that have strong pastoral care and that celebrate diversity will always be in demand.”

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