A parent's perspective on Gordonstoun

Q&A Blog: Interview with parents Kath and Neil Brown on what makes Gordonstoun so special and the characteristics the school has instilled in their three children.

1. First of all, can you give us your parent’s perspective on Gordonstoun

We initially looked at a number of schools for our three very different children. Our aim was to let the kids visit and decide where they would be happiest - ultimately the decision was theirs. Gordonstoun was their first choice! Gordonstoun stood out as an opportunity to explore more than just academics; to find challenges outside the classroom whilst balancing the challenges within was exciting. It was important that the extra-curriculum activities/hobbies were embedded in the timetable. The campus is big, and the students have to go outdoors whatever the weather. They can’t hide in their rooms and quickly learn to make the most of clear skies. Learning takes place not only in the classrooms but also on the rockface, sailing, harbour jumping, sea kayaking, snow-holing, on the sports pitches, performing on stage or under a tarp in the woods.

The diversity of the student population is surprising. It’s a really eclectic group and each child is valued for who they are at school. There are rustic elements to the school, but these add to the charm and remind students that they need very little to succeed in life except resilience and patience. The size of the school means that friendships are vertical and horizontal. The staff to student ratio ensures pastoral care is excellent and there is always someone looking out for your child. We wanted the kids to be together at the same school and Gordonstoun’s ability to cater for this has been important. Their sibling bond is now far stronger as a result. They share the same experiences, jokes, tales and anecdotes which have cemented their relationships for life.

Picture of Angus (Year 12), Fraser (Year 9) and Rosie (Year 13).

2. As parents, what you particularly love or think is outstanding about our school …

  • It was clear from the outset that the student’s well-being was central to their learning. The pastoral care and friendliness of the staff gives the children confidence to ask for help in the knowledge they will be supported. The combination of this and the dynamic use of environment has developed great characteristics in all our kids. Self-belief, individual and collective confidence, tolerance, fun, sense of humour, the value of diversity, independence, sense of adventure, physical robustness and mental resilience.
  • Academics are really well supported, but importantly cater for each individual student. The spread of high academic achievers and those students whose brilliance is hard to capture in a grade is fantastic, and true to the real world. The agility of the teachers to manage and support such a broad range of abilities should be congratulated. Whatever the GCSE or A level results are – there has been a supportive teacher throughout the process; there are some outstanding role models for the students.
  • The kids can celebrate their individuality and shape their own path. The diversity of activities and the fact that students have the responsibility to navigate their timetable and choose their activities, gives them independence, ownership and self-motivation. Kindness and nurturing are a theme in the junior school which leads to tolerance and emotional intelligence in the Senior School. This is also reinforced through participation in international / national service projects.

3. What would your children say they love about Gordonstoun

  • We think the kids would celebrate the music and drama department - whether it is pipes and drums, rock band, or classical; the children have the freedom to express their creativity. The opportunities to perform to their peers regularly and participate in fantastic musical theatre or drama productions for the school is excellent.
  • There is no time to be bored: adventures take place every day, on and off campus. The breadth of inclusive opportunities ensures our kids are kept really busy, which they love.
  • Finally, the kids will probably all agree the highlight of school is their friendships.