Gordonstoun Diploma

By Caroline MacCallum, Director of Teaching and Learning

In the increasingly competitive workplace there is more emphasis on what individuals can offer supplementary to formal education. The cataloguing of each student’s diverse experiences every year in senior school could be of real lasting value for many years to come in the workplace. Indeed, the CBI recently recommended that schools should be compelled to offer experiences in their curriculum that encourage “characteristics, values and habits that last a lifetime”. A Gordonstoun education certainly does this and that is why we have introduced the Gordonstoun Diploma.

The aim is for students to take ownership of their educational experiences and recognise the true nature and value of the breadth of the curriculum at school. The Gordonstoun Diploma provides students the chance to input and reflect on their achievements with the aim of enhancing the all-round experience and allowing them to understand and take more responsibility for their learning.

The award has been developed with input from across the entire school community. The Gordonstoun curriculum and experiences are a constant, but the recording and acknowledgment of the broad curriculum has now been restructured into the ‘Gordonstoun Diploma’. This brings together all the elements of a Gordonstoun curriculum into one single profile. Each term, students are awarded grades according to their commitment and approach in four areas: Academic Learning; Outdoor Learning; Arts, Culture and Sport; and Citizenship and Service. These result in an annual Diploma grade of Distinction, Merit and Pass (or not achieved). The students, with support from their tutors, record their individual achievements in each category twice a term and these come together with the grades in an annual transcript for parents and students. The transcripts can be used in their future life and careers as they are rich with detailed information about their engagement across the curriculum. In Year 13 the students are awarded their final Gordonstoun Diploma certificate.

The breadth of the educational experience at Gordonstoun was a founding element and has run as a thread throughout its 85-year history. Kurt Hahn’s wide-ranging approach to education was revolutionary in the 1930s; outside mainstream academic studies and examinations, the school has always provided learning experiences including service, outdoor education and seamanship training alongside more commonly-found activities such as sport and performing arts. The nature of this is intrinsic to the school’s founding ethos, not ‘extra’ curricular but more the backbone of the compulsory curriculum on offer. We therefore hope that the clarity of the new Diploma will enable students, parents and employers alike to easily recognise the worth in the educational experiences at Gordonstoun and in a format more suited to 21st Century life.

To mis-quote Kurt Hahn: ‘There is more to us than we know. If others can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less’.