A thank you to our teachers

by parent Tessa Lumley

While ‘assessments’ are underway – ‘assessments’ that are doing a very passable impression of being exams – I wanted to write about the teachers at Gordonstoun; before results come out (results to which, this year, again, they are personally connected in a way that I am sure they wish they were not) because what I have to say is can’t be read as coloured by those (a statement which carries with it an assumption that my children will do well! Ha!).

Today, my youngest daughter – who is 16 and in Year 11 - sat her last paper in a subject she is not pursuing at A level. And so her career in that subject is over. And her classroom based relationship with the teacher who taught it is over. This will be true for her with most of her GCSEs as the week goes by - as it will be true for her older sister of all of her A levels. And this is something which also makes both of them incredibly sad, because they love the people who teach them.

So I want to take the opportunity to thank those teachers – very, very sincerely for the patience, support, good grace and good natured affection with which they have shepherded my daughters. They have, throughout their long careers at Gordonstoun, from the Junior school up, had a series of teachers who have been truly inspirational to them; who have engendered a love in them for subjects they didn’t know they could love, and an ability to achieve what they need to achieve in subjects they absolutely could not love. Because it’s naïve to imagine that young people can be enlivened by every subject they study, regardless of how talented their teacher is! My daughters have been led, considerately, through their education with an enthusiasm and care by their teachers that we could not be more grateful for.

And then there are the ones that have gone above and beyond, and championed and understood the girls, even when their parents failed to. Both have been tutored with compassion, understanding and always patience – often to a jaw dropping degree. I have been gently reminded of their teenagerdom when I have been less than patient myself, I have been nudged and guided into complete faith in the process when my daughters’ own behaviour has made that difficult to maintain. Teachers have shared their concerns, their sense of my daughters’ academic potential and the need for them to fulfil it, have presented solutions to the problem of how to achieve that, with respect and clarity. This has been true across the board, and in a few particular instances remarkably so. It is so impressive that Teaching staff have made the time to become so fluent in my children as individuals, to know them so well. And to care about them so completely. I also think it’s important to point out, that this doesn’t guarantee a string of 9s and A*s. It guarantees that my children have achieved what they were capable of at the time, and not everyone has a string of 9s or A*s in them, no matter what their parents expectations of them and the school they attend might be. That doesn’t make them any better or worse than those that do. The biggest gift my daughters have been given by their teachers at Gordonstoun is an understanding of their individuality - and the value of it.

So thank you, teaching staff at both the Junior and Senior schools, for being everything we could have hoped you would be. It’s been brilliant.

And as a Post Script now that results are out, my faith in the school is even stronger as my eldest daughter, whilst happily achieving the grades required to do a well respected degree at a Russell Group University, did not in fact achieve the grades from the school that she had been predicted by the school; which shows an impressive level of integrity and professionalism in Gordonstoun’s handling of this difficult year. She wasn’t disappointed. She was sanguine. She saids she got ‘what she deserved’ - which showed a maturity that must also be a credit to what she has learned out of the classroom, growing up at Gordonstoun.