A Look at the Rich History, Successes, and Future of Gordonstoun

Set on 200 acres of woodlands near the Scottish Highlands, Gordonstoun serves as a boarding school for students aged 4 to 18.

Students come from all over the world for a chance to take advantage of the educational opportunities provided at this innovative boarding school. And the unique curriculum has inspired the creation of many other excellent academic institutions across the globe. But how did Gordonstoun start – and what is it all about? To learn the answers to those questions, take a peek in this guide.

Modest Beginnings

Gordonstoun history begins with the birth of its founder, Dr. Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist and revolutionary. His Jewish parents proudly welcomed him into the world in 1886 while living in the heart of Berlin, Germany. With their loving support, he breezed through school, going onto studying at a handful of universities, including Oxford.

Using his love of great philosophers, like Plato, and respect for the British public school system, he set out to further improve the educational system for all students. His first step was partnering with Prince Max of Baden in opening South Germany’s Salem School.

Unfortunately, once Hitler came into power, Dr. Hahn was no longer safe in his home country and fled to Moray, Scotland. His departure came after getting arrested for dissenting against the Nazi party and only barely getting freed thanks to help from his influential friends.

As he settled there, local families provided him with their support and helped him continue his lifelong goal of bringing stellar educational opportunities to all students. He set his sights on the Gordonstoun estate soon after, intent on opening a truly iconic boarding school.

Founding Gordonstoun

In the early 1930s, Dr. Hahn set out to bring his vision of a unique boarding school to life. With the historic Gordonstoun as his site of choice, he deviated from the current educational models in favour of taking his very own approach. To his great success, he aimed to blend basic academics with coursework on social responsibility to help all students become the best they could be.

In addition to using his ingenious educational model, he created the Moray Badge to further inspire excellence in all his pupils. This badge encouraged a lifelong dedication to service of friends, family, and the community at large. Then, he opened the doors to students in the local area in hopes of helping youngsters develop the foundations they all need in life.

Over the years, his pupils came from all walks of life, including from the royal family. Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, had the opportunity to attend the Gordonstoun boarding school, earning the Moray Badge and using his educational foundation to achieve greatness all throughout life. In the coming years, Prince Charles followed as well.

Inspiring Greatness

Gordonstoun could only educate and lift up a finite number of students, but Dr. Hahn wanted more. He wanted to see his curriculum bolster the success of students all around the world. To achieve that lofty goal, he worked with Prince Phillip to create the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, based on the Moray Badge which Prince Philip earned at school.Since its creation in the late 1950s, schools across 140 countries have earned this award and given students the foundations they needed to grow and thrive.

The teaching ideals used at Gordonstoun also inspired Jocelin Winthrop-Young to found Round Square. This association serves nearly 200 schools that are dedicated to teaching their students just how to be socially responsible while learning their reading, writing, and arithmetic.

As they gain steady footing in this world, those students get to accompany staff to conferences all across the world. They also get to participate in international exchange programs and volunteer opportunities galore. With that, they get to contribute to the betterment of the world well before graduating from high school.

Broad Curriculum

Whether they are at Gordonstoun or a sister school, students gain their footing so fast due to the broad curriculum used throughout each school year. With the beautiful beaches, forests, and other scenic landscapes within reach, boarding school students get to take their learning outdoors on the regular expeditions into the Scottish wilderness.

While out in the world, students get lots of opportunities to learn life skills of all kinds, including swimming, cooking, and everything in between. They also have opportunities to embrace the spirit of service in every way. Since Gordonstoun has its own onsite fire department, they can serve on the fire service detail, for starters. Beyond that, they are given the ability to try out many other formative volunteer opportunities including being a member of the Coastguard and Lifeguard Service.

All along the way, academics are never left as an afterthought. In fact, students put their academic studies at the heart of their educational journey. They have core classes every day after the chapel service kicks off their learning experience. Depending on their school year, academic focus and daily schedule, their lessons range from Maths, English, and History to Photography, Physics, and PE.

In addition to that, they can enjoy lessons like Drama and Dance, that further expand their interests and skillsets. Through this educational exploration, they can define their purpose in life, take every opportunity for service, and reach great heights in all they do.

When students are not learning life skills, focusing on academics, or enjoying their electives, they can spend their hours at the library or state-of-the art sports centre. Both offer plenty of chances for fun and learning, giving all students a well-rounded educational experience.

Comfortable Boarding Houses

Students can stay at the Gordonstoun boarding school through the nine-month school year and can also attend the Summer School if they wish. While going to school here, the students stay in one of eight boarding houses built for junior and senior school attendees.