“I chose Gordonstoun for my child not just for its academic achievements but because I felt the staff truly embrace the school’s philosophy with a passion and the students experience a rounded, challenging curriculum which will stay with them for life.”
As this parent recorded it is the unique breadth of curriculum that marks Gordonstoun apart from the rest. Gordonstoun is not an academic education with a built on “extras” curriculum, but a whole curriculum encompassing academic ambition; a world beating Outdoor Education programme; and an active engagement in service by all of its pupils from 8-18.
The Principal, Simon Reid, says “Our academic programme aims to throw open the doors to life beyond Gordonstoun as widely as possible. But if the last 20 years of technological change have shown us anything, it is that the world in which our young people will grow up in is evermore fast changing and unpredictable. We have to teach them about decision making and adaptability. At Gordonstoun you learn that on the hill, on the seas, and through service. My aim is for our pupils to leave school with a better understanding of working in teams, making decisions and self-awareness than most 18 year olds could be expected to have.”
Gordonstoun is a full boarding school for boys and girls of 8-18 years. We pride ourselves on our pastoral system and ethos of care throughout the school.
The School’s motto “Plus est en vous” is really true at Gordonstoun; a school which provides a preparation for university and life beyond.
Gordonstoun is committed to fulfilling the academic potential of all its students in a way that challenges and stretches every student, encouraging deep learning and higher-order skills. We are inclusive recognising that students develop at different rates and have different learning needs. Teaching is empowering, promoting the development of transferable skills and giving students the means to achieve their ambitions beyond school.
Junior school curriculum is based on the English National Curriculum and focuses on developing key skills needed to fulfil the potential of students as they move up through the school. By the end of Year 8, they will have acquired a solid platform on which to build success in the senior school.
In Year 9, the first year of Senior School, there is a year’s foundation course to give students a sound base of core knowledge and skills needed for GCSE’s. A wide range of subjects are taken so that students are ready to make good decisions on which to progress through to GCSE. Thereafter, a programme of study combines core subjects (maths, English, science, a language) with a wide range of options for GCSE. Most students will take 10 GCSEs.
A substantial number of students join for the sixth form. Most students will take three A-levels and one AS-Level selected from a choice of over 20 subjects. Standards in class work are high and our students perform strongly in external exams. At A-Level almost all presentations lead to at least a pass with, on average, over half of these being A or B grades. Ninety five percent of the Sixth Form leave Gordonstoun to follow a degree course at their chosen university, including Oxford and Cambridge and other top UK and international universities. We are a certified SAT centre and can provide extra SAT teaching for students wishing to study in the US, we send a number of students to US universities every year.
Gordonstoun has over 100 highly qualified and committed members of teaching staff. Each student has a tutor, who normally has eight tutees, the tutor meets each tutee weekly to discuss academic progress and welfare. Students are tracked and carefully monitored in all their subject to help teaching staff give the best advice and guidance. There are weekly clinics in each subject which are open to all students who wish to take advantage of extra help. The school operates a system of grading and reports every half term, which are shared with parents and there is an opportunity to meet academic staff each term.
The Arts and Sport
The Performing Arts play an important part in the curriculum, with over half the students learning to play a musical instrument. Drama and dance performances are held regularly and the School is represented at important competitions and festivals. The Music, Drama and Dance departments work in close collaboration with each other and every two years combine their talents to produce a major musical production.
Gordonstoun's Physical Education curriculum is designed to encourage individual development.
To this aim the PE Department provides a balance of competitive, co-operative and creative opportunities through a wide range of sporting activities.
The sports programme caters equally for students who:
- wish to take part in recreational activities as part of their personal development programme
- aspire to be part of an accomplished team at school level; or
- are strongly talented and seek to develop their skills through regional or national representation
The sports curriculum is extended and complemented by a programme of activities which has been devised to challenge everyone from top team players to willing enthusiasts.
Outdoor Education And Sail Training
Gordonstoun’s world leading education and learning programme of expeditions and adventure activities is specifically designed to challenge students to build on their strengths, recognise their limitations and develop their full potential. We are unique in ensuring that all students take part in outdoor education throughout their time in the School.
Placing students in a different context to one they normally find themselves in, is a powerful learning tool. The learning that comes from outdoor education is not just acquisition of new knowledge, skills and information but a deeper level of personal understanding that becomes embodied within individuals.
Sail training is an essential component of Gordonstoun’s broad curriculum. It helps to develop teamwork and leadership skills, which complement personal challenge. All students undertake seamanship training in cutters from nearby Hopeman harbour where they learn basic skills in preparation for a voyage off the Scottish coast in the School’s own 80-foot sail training vessel, Ocean Spirit of Moray.
This experience is unique in British mainstream education, combining the challenge of the sea with the development of interpersonal skills, teamwork and leadership.
Service at Gordonstoun is concerned with fostering and developing a sense of responsibility and a feeling of care towards all fellow beings. It builds on the experience of responsibility within the School community, transferring this to society at large.
It involves each student demonstrating a willingness to give up his or her time and effort to benefit another individual or group without expecting return or reward.
Service helps students develop a sense of social responsibility and sensitivity to people from different backgrounds and circumstances. Putting others before self is a commitment and a discipline that will live with them as they go through life. Each Service has a particular set of skills it requires or develops to put something back into the community. Every student is expected to take part in one of the twelve services on offer at Gordonstoun.
The Services offer a range of opportunities from supporting the local community in Community Service or Conservation to providing emergency services in the Coastguard, Pool Life Guards or Fire Service. Many of the Services include training which leads to nationally-recognised qualifications that will be useful beyond School life. The Services provide an opportunity to develop and use existing skills or a chance to learn new skills. Service is also an excellent way of fostering links with the local community and of increasing self-esteem.
To think, believe and act as an international citizen is a fundamental objective of a Gordonstoun education. Internationalism is promoted in the student body where over 40 nationalities are represented, one third of them from overseas with the other two thirds from Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Internationalism is reinforced through the curriculum. All students in both Junior and Senior Schools take the specially designed Gordonstoun course in International and Spiritual Citizenship (ISC). It combines spiritual development, health education, environmental issues, civics and life skills in an international context.
Gordonstoun is a founding member of Round Square, a worldwide organisation of over 100 schools. Through Round Square, students are able to participate in global and regional conferences, student exchanges and International Service Projects around the world.
The whole focus of the Gordonstoun ethos is one of care, support and service to others. For a student to reach their full potential in any area of Gordonstoun life and approach their future with confidence, their happiness is paramount. We have a pastoral team which devotes boundless time, energy and expertise to developing, encouraging and advising our young people.
Central to our fostering of a caring environment is that each student belongs to a boarding house which is their home and “family” for the duration of their time at the school. The housemaster or housemistress has responsibility for the wellbeing of each student and a vital part of this is the family atmosphere that they engender by living with the students and ‘sharing’ family life with them; spouses, children, pets are all an integral and valuable part of this atmosphere and vital to the health of our community. The HM does not bear this responsibility alone however: their live-in assistant provides the balanced professional partnership which provides any student with two adults available to them round the clock and in addition, both HM and AHM are supported by a matron who is around for practical help (or hot chocolate and a chat) six days a week. Teaching staff members also have allegiance to houses as house tutors, and all spend at least one evening a week in their boarding house; this engenders further the family atmosphere of the school. Each tutor has between 8 and 10 students who are their particular charges; they have individual weekly meetings to ensure that all students are not only taking a full part in every aspect of a Gordonstoun education, but above all, that they feel safe, secure and happy. House expeditions, sporting events, social events, regular house and tutor ‘brews’ all further a student’s sense of belonging to this unique community. Most importantly, we consciously foster a culture where all students not only treat others with respect and consideration, but also feel a responsibility for each other’s wellbeing. As part of Gordonstoun’s Community service older students can become peer mentors, trained in counselling and the support of others.
We have a Healthcare Centre which is manned 24 hours a day in case of medical need and Elgin Hospital is just 5 miles away.
Admissions And Scholarships
Applications are taken through the Admissions office and normally involve a visit to the school, interview with the Principle (or in his absence his Deputy) and a report from the applicant’s current school. We are delighted to answer any question you may have about our unique school.
Gordonstoun operates a policy of open access, committed to educating young people regardless of nationality, background or financial resources. The School therefore encourages applications whether for scholarships or for places from any young person who is capable of benefiting from a Gordonstoun education and who is committed to enhancing the life of the community.
Scholarships are available normally at 8+ (Year 4), 13+ (Year 9) and 16+ (Sixth Form) level. No more than 10% is ever awarded purely on academic, or other specific, merit. However, additional awards (fee reductions) can be given, based on means testing. There are also some designated fund Scholarships available and the school has links with external charities who offer scholarships for students with specific aptitudes.
Scholarships for the Junior School are held in November, for Year 9 in February and for Year 12 in January.