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! gordonstoun.org.uk