Why I moved country to get my child to Gordonstoun

Parent Anthony S. writes about his family's journey from Slovenia to Gordonstoun, why Gordonstoun was the right choice for his daughter Sophia, and how the school has helped her to reach her full potential.

Four years ago, whilst sojourning amongst Slovenia’s alpine meadows, lakes and snow-capped peaks, we decided the time had come to return our 13-year-old Sophia to an English-speaking education.

A new and different adventure beckoned and we decided to head for Scotland, my family’s homeland several generations ago. Our reconnaissance in the dark, rain-lashed January of 2020 failed to identify a suitable solution. Twenty-four hours before flying back to Slovenia,dejected, we were drinking coffee in a farmer friend’s kitchen. “Have you thought of Gordonstoun?” he queried.

We had not. Having been exposed, many years ago, to the tired old tropes of cold showers and early-morning runs, I had given no thought to Gordonstoun, indeed did not even know where the school was. I was rapidly disabused of my misconceptions. After a friendly and positive telephone call, we piled into our hire car and set off for the scudding clouds and seals of the Moray Firth, where we would spend two hours in the office of Gordonstoun’s inestimable Principal, Lisa Kerr, and Scarlet, the junior rugby-international sixth-former who marched us around the campus. Seven months later we were unpacking boxes, ordering uniforms, and settling into our forested Highland cottage.

Although a day student, Sophie is required to conform to the same daily routine as the boarders, including the evening’s prep. Her only variation is that she has a school run, to and from home, bookending her day. And that day is varied: academics; sports; “activities”, which offer a medley of clubs and extra-curricular studies from which students pick their own areas of interest; and Services, notably Mountain Rescue, Coastguard, and Fire and Rescue (Sophie’s team). Then they have trekking and sailing which develop team-work, resilience, confidence, and leadership, but at a pace which varies from student to student to suit each individual. On top of that, any passions for which Gordonstoun cannot provide, may be met through local outside organisations. Gordonstoun genuinely does nurture individuality.

Coming from a foreign-language background, Sophia has excelled in ways we could not have predicted. Her confidence has blossomed in the wider curriculum (for example, competing in this summer's Tall Ships Races), and her impressive results in GCSE sciences, English, and Mathematics, have set her up nicely for her A levels and her university applications in eighteen months’ time. To have cracked so many top grades while labouring with a language processing impairment, which she has now largely overcome, has been a formidable accomplishment. Gordonstoun's opportunities, tuition, and care have been exemplary. I doubt Sophie’s all-round development and progress could have been achieved anywhere else.

Anthony’s daughter Sophia recently joined the crew of Gordonstoun’s tall ship ‘Ocean Spirit of Moray’ for three weeks sailing in the North Sea. Read more about her experience here.

Find out how Gordonstoun helps every individual reach their full potential by joining us for a Virtual Taste of Gordonstoun Webinar.