Gordonstoun is the founding member of Round Square, a world-wide association of schools which share a commitment beyond academic excellence, to personal development and responsibility. There are 122 member schools all of which share the same ethos and philosophies founded by Kurt Hahn.
History of Round Square
After fleeing Germany from the Nazis in 1933, former founder and Headmaster of Salem School in Germany, Kurt Hahn established Gordonstoun and continued educating boys with the principles he had begun at Salem. Hahn had a vision that there should be a network of “British Salem Schools” across the world each spreading its influence beyond the school boundaries in it is own area.
In 1954 Jocelin Winthrop Young, headmaster of Anavryta School in Greece and former pupil of Kurt Hahn, had been involved in a project organised by Salem to reconstruct Argostoli in the Iionian Islands following a great earthquake. Such had been the success of this project that he considered the idea of founding a permanent association of schools, started variously by Hahn, his colleagues or pupils, to provide aid projects for those in need. In 1962/3 he visited ten of these schools to explain the plan which would include an annual conference to discuss and co-ordinate future projects.
In June 1966, to mark the occasion of Hahn’s 80th birthday, friends and acquaintances from all over the world were invited to meet at Salem. As well as the customary celebrations they held a meeting with the main item on the Agenda a proposal to found the “Hahn Schools Conference”. The first meeting was held a year later in 1967 at Gordonstoun and it was here that the name was changed to “Round Square Conference” after the famous building of the same name on the Gordonstoun campus. Initially attended only by Headmasters and Governors, in 1974 pupils were invited for the first time and increasingly played a part in deciding the theme for the conference and organising discussions. The name soon became simply Round Square and in 1980 the Round Square International Service (RSIS) was created to promote and organise overseas voluntary service projects.
Round Square IDEALS
Kurt Hahn believed that schools should have a greater purpose beyond preparing young people for College and University. He believed that students should be prepared for life by having them face it directly and experience it in ways that would demand courage, generosity, imagination, principle and resolution.
These broad fundamentals cover a wide spectrum of social, political and economic environments and are known as the Pillars of Round Square and which comprise the word IDEALS:
- International understanding and tolerance of others
- Democratic governance and justice
- Environmental stewardship
- Adventure through self-discovery
- Service to others
Round Square Opportunities
Round Square provides opportunities for students to participate in global and regional conferences and helps students to undertake exchanges and projects. Underpinning its philosophy are:
- International Service Projects
Gordonstoun has an extensive exchange programme. In any year we welcome 20-30 visitors from all five continents. A similar number of Gordonstoun students take part in exchanges. Some will visit Europe to brush up on language while others undertake a broader educational experience in Africa, North America, India and Oceania. Most exchanges are with other Round Square Schools and take place in the Spring Term of Year 10.
International Service Projects
For most senior students the international service project is a highlight and a hallmark of their time at Gordonstoun. The projects enable students to build on the personal benefits fostered by the School.
Students work hard in a team, with people of other nationalities, in a different environment, toward wholly worthwhile objectives. This is an experience without equal.
Gordonstoun is one of the world leaders in organising such projects. Recent projects have taken students to:
Round Square also organises projects, which provide students with an alternative, equally valuable experience.
Students have opportunities at various age levels to attend gatherings of their fellows at national, regional and global levels. Participation in conferences helps to develop social skills and provides opportunities for broadening international experiences. Each conference has a theme based on the IDEALS of Round Square, and the outcomes are invariably significant. In 2006 over 60 schools attended the global at Gordonstoun, where the theme was Plus est en Vous.
To find out more about Round Square, visit their website at: www.roundsquare.org