Reflections on our first year

Four new students - two from Year 9 and two from Year 12 - reflect on their first year at Gordonstoun.

Rosie B, Year 9 Windmill Lodge

It seems crazy to me that my first year at Gordonstoun has just flown by. I remember being so nervous about coming despite coming with one of my friends from my previous school in Kenya but now I couldn’t feel more at home. Boarding was a big worry for me as I was apprehensive about being away from my family for long periods of time; however I had nothing to worry about as everyone in the House was really welcoming and it helped me get to know all the new people in my year.

Another thing I enjoyed about Gordonstoun is the House spirit. I love to participate in all the inter-House competitions including things like hockey, table tennis and even tug of war as it helps me to feel like part of a family. Everyone always joins in and it's always a good laugh (especially if you win).

Outdoor education is also a huge part of the Gordonstoun ethos. There are always activities every day of the school week most of which include exercise or use of outdoor skills. A highlight of the year for me would have to be seamanship. For three days and a bit we were taught how to sail as a team in two small boats in Hopeman Harbour. Expeditions are also a key part of the curriculum and I thoroughly enjoyed my most recent exped on the West Coast despite the clouds of midges and creepy crawlies hidden in the grass. Personally I think expeds are important as they help you to persevere to reach the top of a certain Munro but also to appreciate the little things such as a shower or a good night's sleep.

It’s fair to say that I have really enjoyed my first year at Gordonstoun. I have made new friends and tried new things but have also been able to carry on my interests and I’m sure next year will be just as action packed and fun as this year has been.

Yahya U, Year 9 Round Square

I come from the Falkland Islands and joined Gordonstoun as a new pupil in August last year. The reason why I came to Gordonstoun is because I heard of their great academic, sporting and extra curricular successes. 

Gordonstoun has a real Hogwarts-like feeling to it. When I first discovered the school in 2015 from the documentary series, “Gordonstoun - A Different Class”, I instantly fell in love with it. The school had a lot to offer, not just academics, but also drama, music, sports as well as a strong sense of community. Coming to the school and actually seeing it myself has made me realise that everything I saw on TV a few years ago was exactly like I had witnessed

Being in Round Square has really given me a sense of community and really encouraged me to boost my confidence. Before coming to Round Square, I would have never had the courage to socialise as often or meet new people of different backgrounds, but since August, I have made many friends, from every continent in the world (except Antarctica, of course) and some who are up to four years older than me.

Although it seems like a cliché, House expeds and seamanship have really changed my life. In the Autumn term was my first time on any sail boat. Also in the case of House expeds, it really increased my endurance, stamina and team building. House expeds also helped me strengthen my relationships with the Year 10s in the House.

Outside the classroom, I like to take part in quite a few sporting activities, such as cricket, hockey and rugby. I also like to have a workout in the gym now and again. Apart from sports, I do like to socialise with friends from different Houses, by visiting their mixed common rooms or going to the fun and amazing socials.

Overall, I have had an unimaginable amount of fun over the past year. My life has been drastically transformed by the school and I am looking forward to the next four years of fun, adventure and challenges.  

Bridget A, Year 12 Hopeman House

I came to Gordonstoun from a public high school in Seattle because I wanted to have a new experience and my family had previously attended school here. I am a boarder in Hopeman House and everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. Prior to attending school here, I thought it would be similar to the way the media depicts Prince Charles' experiences at Gordonstoun. However, there is a very positive and supportive community here and the school successfully incorporates outdoor education while still having lessons six days a week. In Year 12 I have had sail training and completed two expeditions. My favourite expedition was in April because we had great weather and hiked around a beautiful estate for three days. For service, I participate in Community Service where I have volunteered at Anderson’s Care Home and now at Hopeman Primary. 

This year, I have participated in expeditions, competed in a cross country race, attended Sunday skiing at the Lecht Ski Resort and inter-House competitions such as triathlon, swimming, cross-country, volleyball. I have really enjoyed my first year of Sixth Form at Gordonstoun and have had so many opportunities I would have never had before. I am so blessed that my parents are able to send me to this school as it has challenged me both inside and outside of the classroom and I have gained a new respect and appreciation for myself and those around me.

Robert A, Year 12 Duffus House

I came to Gordonstoun at the start of Year 12 for a secure A Level education, a new adventure away from my family, and for the experiences of boarding school life. Having lived as an expat my entire life, being in Scotland is the 8th country I have lived in. My education has been very mixed from international American style education schools to sitting GCSEs in the Netherlands. My education has always been a gamble in a new country, what curriculums will I be studying? What qualifications will I gain where? Will I be able to finish these qualifications before another move? These are all questions me and my family had to consider with each move and I am very fortunate to have been able to stay with my family for so long. With a new move hanging over me midway through my A Levels I needed a secure option that would allow me to have a beneficial education inside the UK.

The choice to come to Gordonstoun was very influenced by my father who attended the school in the late 80s. Throughout my life the ethos of the school has been prominent when it came to learning and outdoor pursuits because of my father’s time here. I had my own tent that I shared with my little brother on camping trips at aged 7 and was taught through mistakes and experiences such as lighting fires and learning the hard way that embers stay hot for a very long time. This upbringing has developed a strong independent character in me that I am very grateful for. The outdoors has meant so much to me for all my life and so coming to Gordonstoun meant that I could continue my passion with other likeminded students. Being part of the Outdoor Leadership Service, I spend every Wednesday doing something with outdoor pursuits and have lots of opportunities to leave school on extra expeditions such as a winter skills training weekend. On the winter skills weekend I learnt how to use ice axes and walk in crampons for the first time, an experience I probably would not have had at any other boarding school.

I am very used to joining new schools now but even coming to Gordonstoun I knew it was going to be different with boarding life. Living with a group of boys 24 hours a day, 7 days a week has built amazing friendships. I feel very at home when I’m in Duffus and when I’m on holiday I sometimes even find myself missing the House and the atmosphere inside it.

Outside the classroom I am taking part in several different activities and constantly volunteering for my service which has taken me across Moray through extra expeditions and marshalling for different races in the area. My greatest passion, climbing, has been easy to keep up here with our climbing wall. I can be found there at ever single opportunity. I often help staff with belaying for younger kids within the school or from local primary schools who come in to use our wall, the deal being I get to squeeze in a climb or two right at the end of the session.

As my first year comes to an end I feel this has been an amazing decision, I love the friends  I spend so much time with and I love all the opportunities I have been given through the school. The support and structure I receive here with my education has been hugely beneficial and I feel that without it I would have struggled more with the huge pressures of A Level life.