Staff Spotlight: Junior School House Parent Jess Noakes

In our Staff Spotlight series we are speaking with our fantastic Gordonstoun staff and getting an insight into what makes them tick. Meet Jess Noakes, our smiling superstar Junior School Houseparent. She has a few surprises up her sleeve too - let’s just say with Jess as HP, Junior School boarding is going swimmingly well.

Tell me a bit about yourself, what you do, and how long have you worked at Gordonstoun.

I’m the Junior School House Parent and I teach in the Year 6 class as well. I’ve worked at Gordonstoun for nearly a year and moved up from Central England with my partner Ben and our two dogs.

What has been happening in the Junior School Boarding House lately?

Our Junior Boarding House had a refurbishment this year, a complete refresh of the decor, new dorm furniture and some new sofas, it’s looking great! Also, We’ve had a few changes in routine, which the boarders have been really involved with suggesting, leading and implementing. Our boarders have been busy, they’ve been to Macduff Aquarium, swimming in Inverness, enjoying local beach trips and trampolining. We’ve got lots more fun activities coming up, a visit to Fort George, pottery painting - there’s always so much going on!

What is the best thing about being a House Parent at Gordonstoun?

The best thing is getting to know the children in a more casual environment. I really get to know them, their interests, what they like to do with their free time, and get to explore their passions with them. One of my pupils is really into origami, so we’ve got some origami paper and he’s been teaching everybody in the house. It’s really great to be able to get to know the children more as individuals.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I was selected at my previous school to go on a ‘Teachers Helping Teachers’ trip. We went to Madagascar and did loads of work with the community helping the teachers out there. We brought a shipping container full of resources for five schools and then taught the teachers there how to use those resources to help their students. That was a really cool experience.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A night in the campervan, with our dogs and the fire on. Ben and I usually play a game of backgammon and just sit and enjoy the view wherever we are as the sun goes down.

What would you most like people to know about boarding in Junior School?

That we’re a really welcoming family. The children put it best themselves - we sat down last night and I asked them “what would you like other children to know before they come to Gordonstoun?” and they said some lovely things, anything from “bring your favourite book, or your favourite teddy”, to “there’s always someone to talk to or look after you when you are sick”. They are really sweet and want to welcome and embrace as many people as possible.

What’s your greatest challenge as a house parent?

Can I say something really soppy? Saying goodbye when they’re ready to move on and go to the Senior School!

What is something surprising about you?

I am a qualified advanced scuba diver. I’ve been diving in Thailand and Fiji!

What talent would you most like to have?

To be able to sing. We sing every morning in assembly and I love it, but I do feel sorry for those around me who might not enjoy my singing as much as I do!

What do you hope Junior School Boarding will look like in the future at Gordonstoun?

I hope the Junior School will continue to offer a really flexible approach to boarding, and continue a really gentle, careful introduction to boarding. We can be flexi, we can be weekly, we can be fully boarding or we can mix and match. We will always give every child the best possible experience to support them with their independence and resilience, learning to be away from home, but in a safe, cosy place that feels like home.

Is there a quote or saying you live your life by?

My dad said something once that really stuck with me - “Everything will be okay in the end and if it’s not okay it’s not the end”.

What is your guilty pleasure?

A long bubble bath, listening to music with a big bar of chocolate.

Thanks Jess for taking the time to chat with us!

Want to learn more about life in our Junior School? For upcoming events or to book a personalised visit to Gordonstoun contact:

01343 837829