Independent School Parent

Boarding School of the Year GORDONSTOU­N

The school’s three Rs strategy to reintegrat­e pupils back into school life after lockdown clinched it the win in this category


After a year which turned its students’ world upside down, Gordonstou­n recognised the need for a totally different set of ‘three R’s’ and built a mental health recovery curriculum based on the return to campus, a reconnecti­on with nature and a focus on rebuilding resilience.

The return plan began before term even started with Houseparen­ts connecting with home parents to build individual­ised student reintegrat­ion plans. Once back on campus the return programme included art therapy, training senior students to be ‘wellbeing watchers’ and using the CHIME mentalheal­th recovery framework.

Gordonstou­n has always believed that the best classrooms don’t have walls and as a result extended its already extensive outdoor programme to reconnect students with nature.

New outdoor learning and social spaces were built within the campus woodlands, boarding houses were given personalis­ed braziers for evening fires, there were outdoor quizzes and even a fairy-lit winter funfair on the lawn complete with a Ferris wheel.

To help build resilience following months of containmen­t, teaching staff knew that young people had to be challenged, so the size of the school’s outdoor education team was quadrupled, and staff chartered a second yacht to operate alongside Ocean Spirit of Moray (on which every Gordonstou­n pupil learns to sail). Sunday rest days were dispensed in favour of coasteerin­g, the ornamental lake was used for canoeing and the local cliffs were rigged with climbing ropes.

Every pupil experience­d several multiday expedition­s and, after rigorous risk assessment­s not to mention rigorous cleaning, Gordonstou­n became the only school operating overnight sail training voyages. This all proved the perfect antidote to the stresses of the past months.

Gordonstou­n’s motto is Plus est en vous (there is more in you) and this inspires a commitment to supporting individual student identity. Gordonstou­n’s curriculum is LGBTQi+ inclusive and never allocates roles by gender (we would never ask for a ‘strong boy’). It was a natural next step to support student gender identity by adapting the school’s language. Teaching staff now say ‘everyone’, ‘students’ or ‘folk’ instead of ‘ladies’, ‘gents’ or ‘girls and boys’. As a result, 15 students have felt supported to ask to use gender-neutral pronouns.

Gordonstou­n believes that the character traits of resilience, compassion and self-awareness are key to success. Head Richard Devey says: “winning this award has been a huge

“WINNING THIS AWARD HAS BEEN a huge boost to our whole community AND IS A STAMP OF APPROVAL”

boost to our whole community and is a stamp of approval which has prompted even greater interest in our school, not only from prospectiv­e families but also when it comes to filling vacant posts.”

Despite the unpreceden­ted challenges for the sector over the last 18 months, Gordonstou­n’s inclusive, healthy and, above all, happy atmosphere has resulted in record admissions enquiries and not a spare bed in the school! gordonstou­

 ?? ?? Pupils reconnecte­d with nature upon their return to Gordonstou­n after lockdown
Pupils reconnecte­d with nature upon their return to Gordonstou­n after lockdown

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