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    Why So Many Families Are Applying to Gordonstoun, Scotland’s Unique Boarding School

    Gordonstoun offers world-class educational opportunities for those hoping to study at a Scottish boarding school.

    This year, Scottish boarding schools have seen an influx of admissions from prospective students throughout the UK. But this surge hasn’t come as a surprise to educational bodies; numerous candidates live in busy English cities and, as we recover from the pandemic, hope to attend school in Scotland’s peaceful pastures. In fact, almost 6,000 families from London alone have researched boarding schools through the Scottish Council for Independent Schools and Scotland’s Boarding Schools websites over the past year.

    ‘During lockdown, many families were cooped up together in major cities like London and dreamed of an idyllic childhood with easy access to wide, open spaces and a safe environment,’ says Director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools John Edward. ‘That is something Scotland has in spades, and our members are seeing an increase in inquiries from city-based families as a result.’

    Surge of Enquiries for Gordonstoun School

    Amongst the rise in Scottish boarding school admissions, Gordonstoun has seen a huge surge of enquiries over recent months. Beautiful countryside and open spaces aside, the school has also received much media attention since one of its first pupils, and lifelong supporter, Prince Philip passed away in April. Since the Duke of Edinburgh attended Gordonstoun during the 1930s, some of his children and grandchildren have also spent their school days at the acclaimed school, which has long carried its royal heritage.

    ‘We’ve noticed for a while that there was an increase in inquiries from city-based families who wanted their children to escape an urban environment,’ a Gordonstoun spokesperson says. ‘Then we had all the publicity surrounding the death of HRH Prince Philip. Sometimes it’s hard to unpick one definitive reason why a parent is interested in our school, but these are both definitely factors at the moment.’

    On May 22, 2021, Gordonstoun took part in a virtual event for families who are considering Scottish boarding education for their children. Many young people and their parents enjoyed virtually meeting the school’s principal and admissions team.

    Post-Pandemic Return to School

    Now Gordonstoun students have returned to their rural campus for the 2021 summer term, they’re spending much time learning in the schools 200-acre woodland campus, local beaches, and backdrop of Scottish Highlands. Gordonstoun has moved many lessons outdoors as part of its commitment to the Boarding Schools’ Association ‘Covid Safe’ Charter. The school is also complying with all government guidelines and BSA regulations.

    Dialogue Society

    As students are now back at school, Gordonstoun is also encouraging them to share their thoughts on political pandemic-related challenges in its Dialogue Society. Many schools run debating societies, but Gordonstoun fosters a belief that dialogue is a healthier concept to teach when it comes to politics. And the pandemic has posed many challenges for political discussion. For example, students are currently discussing the row between the UK and the rest of Europe over vaccine supplies.

    By encouraging dialogue over debate, Gordonstoun helps students become great listeners. The Dialogue Society helps students understand their opponents’ views as a key part of resolving conflict. Rather than encouraging students to ‘win’ arguments, Gordonstoun shows students how to reach the best outcome for all. The idea is to show younger generations how they can replace the confrontational debates we often see on television with healthy dialogue.

    ‘We believe that dialogue and negotiation skills are a vital part of any education, and we want to make sure that as many young people as possible can learn these skills,’ says Gordonstoun’s Principal Lisa Kerr. ‘In recent weeks, we have all seen the effects of poor negotiation – from the Northern Ireland protocol to a row with the EU over vaccine supply. We now have the difficult task of rebuilding after the pandemic and successful dialogue will be key to keeping the international community unified and focused in its response. These issues affect all our lives, and if our young people can be more successful in the art of dialogue, the future will be in safe hands.’

    Dialogue Symposiums

    Gordonstoun hopes to instil dialogue skills in as many students as possible. That’s why the school runs its widely recognised Dialogue Symposiums, which young people and teachers from schools across the UK attend. Having already hosted the UK’s first-ever dialogue symposium, Gordonstoun hosted a follow-up virtual symposium last March, and students from schools across the country tuned in to take part. Following the Handforth Parish Council meeting that went viral last year, Gordonstoun also invited council members to attend the symposium. During the council meeting, the chief officer had muted and even removed members because the debate was so confrontational.

    Gordonstoun’s virtual symposium attracted extensive media coverage from media names like The Times, BBC, and ITV.

    ‘It was an amazing opportunity with so much potential to do good in the world,’ says student Nicole, who attended Samworth Church Academy, Mansfield. ‘It not only allowed me to expand my skillset but also my mind. Meeting people with such diverse backgrounds and pasts was remarkably interesting as diversity is not something we really have here in Mansfield. As a result, I found it quite useful to be able to talk to people who have experienced different lifestyles and cultures, and it has given me a lot to think about.’

    Gordonstoun also taught teachers in attendance how to become facilitators so they can set up their own dialogue societies and workshops in their own schools.

    About Gordonstoun School

    Nestled in Moray, Scotland’s ‘Sunshine Coast’, Gordonstoun is a tranquil home from home for boarders from all walks of life. Though the school’s private campus sits amid acres of beautiful Scottish scenery, the school is still within easy reach of both Inverness and Aberdeen airports, where students fly in from around the world to study at the prestigious school. Gordonstoun welcomes a cosmopolitan blend of young people from over 40 countries who enjoy learning in small teaching groups on the school’s seventeenth-century estate.

    There are several reasons why Gordonstoun is a unique boarding school for children aged 4–18. Firstly, students don’t just learn in the classroom. They also enjoy learning outside, especially at the helm of the school’s 80-foot sailboat. Prince Philip himself learnt to sail with Gordonstoun and, to this day, students follow in his footsteps by sailing to Norway (which the Duke of Edinburgh achieved during his school days). On the day of his funeral, students and staff even placed a memorial wreath in the sea in his honour.

    Gordonstoun also founded the infamous Duke of Edinburgh (D of E) Award, which Prince Philip developed with former headteacher Dr. Kurt Hahn. Together, they built the Award out of the school’s original Moray Badge, which Prince Philip completed when he was at school. Today, employers around the world recognise the D of E Award, and schools in over 140 countries encourage young people to get involved.

    Most of Gordonstoun’s students board; the school houses 500 students who live in seven boarding houses alongside pastoral staff. However, Gordonstoun also welcomes an additional 100 day students from local areas. All students enjoy the school’s inclusive house structure, whether they board or attend during the day only.

    Plus, Gordonstoun hosts one of the UK’s first – and most successful – summer schools.

    Read more about Gordonstoun School.

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