Retained firefighter becomes new Head of Gordonstoun Senior School

Wednesday 21st January 2020

A retained firefighter and leading educationalist has been named as the new Head of one of the best-known schools in the country. Richard Devey says he intends to continue to respond to emergency call-outs after he takes up the new role at Gordonstoun, making him the first Head of an independent school to be an active firefighter.

Mr Devey began working as a retained firefighter when he joined Gordonstoun as a teacher in 1992. He has attended more than 230 fires as a member of the fire unit which is based within the school’s Moray campus, outside Elgin. The unit is the only one in the UK to have a fire engine which is crewed by under 18’s since pupils at the school make up the rest of the crew. All pupils at Gordonstoun volunteer for one of the school’s nine community and rescue services, which also include the Coastguard and Lifeguards.

Mr Devey said,

“Inspiring a willingness in the next generation to provide service to the community is more relevant than it’s ever been, so I hope to combine on-call duties as a retained firefighter with this important new role. At Gordonstoun we believe it is very important students are willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own. This develops a sense of social responsibility and compassion towards people from all walks of life and the satisfaction of helping others without expectation of reward.”

Mr Devey has attended every kind of call-out from a horse stuck in a ditch to the devastating Elgin floods in 1997 and 2000, when he led the Gordonstoun crew which spent many days pumping floodwater out of people’s homes.

He says his top priority in the new role is to bring out the best in every child.

“I was delighted that HM inspectors recently rated Gordonstoun as ‘outstanding’, but we can always do more to make sure every student achieves their potential. I also want to open up Gordonstoun’s life-changing opportunities to as many young people as possible and I will continue to support the build-up the funds of the recently announced Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation.

“I am a strong believer in challenging young people during their education, both inside and outside the classroom. As the University of Edinburgh research into Gordonstoun’s unique curriculum found, the out of classroom learning experiences at Gordonstoun have a life-long impact and help us to educate the leaders of tomorrow so that they know how to handle responsibility with compassion and thoughtfulness.”

In 2019 HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, announced he was giving his name to a foundation to offer financial support to children from a wide variety of backgrounds. A third of students already receive financial assistance and the launch of The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation aims to increase this.

Mr Devey has worked as Deputy Head, Head of Department and most recently as Gordonstoun’s Director of International Development where he played a vital role in the school’s recent announcement that it will be opening its first international schools in China.

Welcoming his appointment, Principal Lisa Kerr said,

“Richard has a wonderful mix of experience which promotes the unique Gordonstoun ethos whilst also ensuring it remains at the forefront of educational innovation in character education. He is hugely popular amongst pupils and staff, he has been at the heart of some of the most significant changes at the school and was part of the team which led to our inspection report from Education Scotland last term which described pastoral care at Gordonstoun as ‘sector leading’. I have no doubt that Richard will help us achieve our vision as part of a dynamic new leadership team.”

Richard Devey, (53) will replace Titus Edge who has spent 7 years at Gordonstoun, latterly as Headmaster.


For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Eleanor Bradford:

About Gordonstoun:

Gordonstoun is an independent boarding school which was established in Moray in 1934 by Dr Kurt Hahn, a Jewish exile who fled Nazi Germany. He founded the school with the ideal of developing better world citizens equipped to contribute to society. Dr Kurt Hahn was the driving force behind the Outward Bound Movement and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Gordonstoun has been a pioneer of character education which, as well as academic subjects, includes outdoor education, athletics, projects and service to the community. Three generations of British royalty have been educated at Gordonstoun, including the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales. Approximately one third of the pupils at the co-educational boarding school receive financial help in order to attend and earlier this year HRH the Duke of Edinburgh lent his name to a foundation to provide life-changing bursaries for the school.