As one of the best private schools in Scotland we understand the importance of a questioning mind. So, if there is anything you want to know please get in touch. To save you some time though, we have answered many of the most frequently asked questions below.
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1. How many students are at Gordonstoun?
That’s an easy one to answer. There are around 123 in our Junior School (age 4 ½ to 12) and 459 in our Senior School (age 13 to 18). This means we are large enough to offer our uniquely broad curriculum but small enough for everyone to know each other.
2. Why do you do A Levels and not IB?
We believe the in-depth study of three or four specialist subjects at A level provides the best option for our students. A levels are academically challenging and give students a greater chance of being accepted to universities across the UK. They are also recognised around the world, understood by employers and complement our broad curriculum perfectly.
3. How will you help my child reach their full academic potential?
Our curriculum, which is unique and unrivalled in breadth, has been designed to stretch, challenge and nurture every child at Gordonstoun. Our pastoral and curriculum teams closely monitor the academic needs of each student on an on-going basis and work is tailored to maximise each child’s ability.
In the Senior School students meet with their tutor every week to make sure they are working as hard as they can to fulfil their potential. Our motto ‘Plus est en vous’ means ‘There is more in you' and we have high expectations of every student. Subject-specific weekly ‘clinics’ provide the opportunity for students to further explore areas of particular interest. A wide range of events are organised by our Scholarship and Enrichment co-ordinator - including national academic competitions - and trips are run throughout the year to develop each student’s ability, to broaden their horizons and build their confidence and desire to learn more. On top of all this the debating, dialogue and current affairs societies specialise in taking students’ learning beyond a classroom curriculum and into the wider academic and intellectual world around them.
Out of classroom learning at Gordonstoun is a key element of the education on offer here. Our broad curriculum helps students develop independence, determination and self-awareness whether they are crewing the school yacht, playing in sports team or scaling a Munro. These are not only important life skills, they can also be utilised to enhance academic studies.
Our aim to help every child achieve their full academic potential starts young, and in the Junior School we are committed to marking and celebrating all academic success and progress. Each pupil is encouraged to engage in learning which goes above and beyond the norm. Children are taught to aim for top grades and are given regular feedback on their performance. Gordonstoun’s small classes allow our specialist teachers to provide individual attention, stretching each child and instilling a love of learning that will serve them well in later years.
4. What happens at Weekends?
Where do we start? The advantage of being a full boarding school is that students have the opportunity to take part in activities seven days a week. On a typical weekend Senior School students have Saturday school in the morning and activities in the afternoon. In the evening there is a social event for each year group - which might be a bonfire on the beach, a quiz night, a pizza night, a disco or a film. On Sunday after chapel and prep there is time to relax or take part in inter-house sports competitions, in everything from hockey to ping pong or chess. On top of all this there are mountaineering trips, sailing expeditions and skiing in winter. We also have drama and music rehearsals and a myriad of sports fixtures.
The schedule is also busy in the Junior School. Year 8 has Saturday morning school to prepare them for all the excitement of the following year when they move up to Senior School. The Junior School also has a programme of activities and trips for their boarders, with access to the extensive campus and its facilities every weekend.
5. How many students share a bedroom?
Junior School pupils share rooms of up to six children. In the Senior School, each house is slightly different, but in Year 9 most students share dorms with three or four other pupils. In Year 10 they have just one other roommate and in Years 12 and 13 they have a room to themselves. We have one girls’ house in which all students have their own room and in the boys’ sixth form house everyone normally shares a large room in Year 12.
6. How do you allocate children to a house?
All Junior School pupils are in the Junior School House. In the Senior School, unless students have a family tie to a boarding house, students are carefully allocated to houses so that each has a healthy, dynamic mix of nationalities, abilities and personality types. In our experience this helps everyone grow together and learn from each other. Friendships are not constrained by boarding house, and all of our students have friends across the year groups and the houses.
7. Are day pupils integrated with the boarders?
Absolutely! Day students are expected to join in with all activities at school, from Chapel in the morning to supper, prep and often extra activities in the evening. Day pupils are allocated to their boarding houses and are treated in all the same way as boarders. In the Junior School day pupils normally go home at 5.35pm, but each evening they are welcome to stay for supper and activities - and many of them do. They are also invited to take part in our busy programme of weekend activities and sports fixtures.
8. What is your mobile phone policy?
Today’s smartphones are amazing machines, but they are also incredible tools for distraction. So, we don’t allow pupils to use their phones after they leave the house in the morning until the end of lessons in the afternoon. They can still have their phones in their bags for emergencies. Years 9 and 10 have their phones taken away for prep and at bedtime.
In the Junior School the children are allowed their phone for a short time in the evening to phone home. (Time differences are taken into account for foreign students.) We relax our strict phone policy over the weekend, if students can find time to use them during our busy, broad curriculum.
9. Where do I get school uniform from?
Much as we value diversity at Gordonstoun, a little uniformity is good on occasion. Our distinctive uniforms are something students can be proud to wear and are available online from School Blazer. Uniform can be ordered anytime and from anywhere via the bespoke Gordonstoun pages, making it easy to find the right uniform for your child’s year group. All uniform is delivered within 3 working days and can be delivered to your home or the School. An “intelligent sizing system” on the website helps to ensure that garments fit first time and allow room for growth. Returns are free-of-charge and there is a second-hand section on the School Blazer website to buy and sell items in good condition. Please ensure that your child has all the compulsory items on our uniform list which can be found here or via a tab at the top of the School Blazer shopping pages. There are a range of additional items which are optional. We do recommend that your child has a pair of wellies. Boarders will need to bring a selection of casual clothes and can choose to bring items such as their own duvet covers – see our uniform guides for details.
10. We live far away, so does my child have to go away at leave out weekends?
Students who live further afield can go to a local guardian or many choose to stay at school for the leave out weekend - there are usually two of these weekends every term. There is always a fire crew at the school, staffed by students who are doing their community service.
11. I see you don’t have open days, how can I come for a visit?
We believe one-to-one meetings give families a better insight into life here at Gordonstoun. Please phone the admissions office on 01343 837829 to arrange a talk and tour any morning that suits you during term time – except Sunday.
12. How do I get to Gordonstoun?
Our beautiful location in the Moray countryside is peaceful, but not remote. We are easily accessible by air from Aberdeen or Inverness airports, by train to Elgin or by car.
13. Can you cater for different educational needs?
We know children all grow and learn at different rates. That’s why we have an experienced Learning Support Department with friendly, helpful staff who can encourage, challenge and motivate pupils to embrace and master new challenges. Our English as an Additional Language Department also helps pupils who don’t speak English as their first language to develop both their written and spoken language skills.
14. What nationalities of student attend Gordonstoun?
Diversity is a crucial part of life here at Gordonstoun and we are delighted to have such a broad mix of students. One third of our pupils are Scottish, one third come from the rest of the UK and one third travel here from overseas. We have children of over 40 different nationalities adding to the vibrant, rich mix of life at the school – something which has been one of our core values since the very first day we opened. Today, this is more important than ever and helps give all our students respect for different cultures, and consequently a better understanding of their place in the ever changing world.