United Kingdom / Scotland / Moray / Gordonstoun

Gordonstoun Q & A

Gordonstoun is one of the world’s best known public schools, although it is fair to say that this reputation is due in greater part to its educating British royals including Prince Philip and King Charles III.
At a glance
School phase
All through
Inspection rating
No rating
Availability 2022/23
Availability 2023/24
Annual fee average
GBP 8,500
Annual fees
GBP 4,100–14,250
Price band help
Opening year
School year
Sep to Jun
Lisa Kerr, Titus Edge
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
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Welcome to the Gordonstoun official Q and A page. Here we ask the questions, and the school answers directly. It is its chance to have its say on specific areas you have told us you want to know about. If you think there are additional questions we should be asking you may contact us here.

If you have to highlight three strengths of your school, what would they be?

Gordonstoun doesn't just prepare you for exams, it prepares you for life. Every student learns how to sail and joins regular expeditions which were the inspiration for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. All this is possible because of the schools spectacular location on the Moray coast, creating the ideal learning environment to create resilient, compassionate individuals who are team players but also develop true leadership skills.

Performance in national qualifications is ‘an important strength of the school’ (HM Inspectors, 2019) and staff have a relentless drive to nurture each individual.

Our peaceful and safe campus offers an opportunity to have an idyllic childhood and develop lasting friendships away from the pressures of city life.

What is the single biggest challenge your school is currently addressing?

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on our students mental wellbeing and we are impleming mental health recovery curriculum based on the 'CHIME' mental health recovery programem and includes art therapy, training senior students to be ‘wellbeing watchers’ and extra outdoor adventures.

Gordonstoun has always believed that the best classrooms don’t have walls and we extended our (already extensive) outdoor programme to Reconnect students with nature. New outdoor learning and social spaces were built within the campus woodlands, boarding house were given personalised braziers for evening fires, there were outdoor quizes and even a fairylit Winter Funfair on the lawn complete with ferris wheel.

To help build Resilience following months of containment, we knew young people had to be challenged so we quadrupled the size of our outdoor education team and chartered a second yacht to operate alongside Ocean Spirit of Moray (on which every Gordonstoun pupil learns to sail).

Does your school have a waiting list? In which years?

There is competition for all places and recent publicity surrounding the passing of our former student HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has led to a surge in inquiries.

What are qualities and characteristics that define your school and its students?

The unique all-round education on offer at Gordonstoun provides its students with the chance to develop intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually because Gordonstoun understands that the broader the experience, the broader the mind. As well as regular expeditions into the Highlands and on our own sail training vessel, active engagement in service to the local community also comprises a core part of Gordonstoun’s ‘working week’. These include the Coastguard and the Fire Service, where students have an opportunity to work with rescue service personnel on real emergencies. Gordonstoun is the only school in the UK to have its own Fire Engine which is staffed by students and responds to genuine call outs.

How many nationalities are represented in your school? How international would you say your school is?

One third of our students are from outside the UK and they come from a wide range of countries with no one nationality dominating.

Are there high proportions of a particular nationality?

One third of our students are Scottish, one third are from the rest of the UK and one third are international.

What is the teacher: student ratio in your school?


If external examinations and assessments are part of your curriculum, which ones do you offer?


Please provide details of how well your school did in its previous external exams for students at 16 and at 18 years of age? Please provide sufficient detail to allow parents to have a view on how academic your school is?

Gordonstoun is a non-selective school on the basis of academic performance. In 2020, 20% of our students achieved 3 A/A* at A Levels, meaning the most academic students in the top set achieve results in line with schools who select only the most academic students. In 2020 87% of A-level grades were A*-C, with 38% of grades A*-A. 43% of GCSE grades were at grade 7-9.

What percentage of your sixth form that take exams at 18 go to university, and where, in general, do they go?

The vast majority go to universities all over the world. In 2020 One of our students went to study at Cambridge, two students went to study medicine/dentistry and 10% of our students went to universities overseas.

Describe your school's approach to education and teaching?

The school’s uniquely broad curriculum encourages every individual to fulfil their academic potential and develop their character. The school motto is ‘Plus est en vous’ – There is more in you. At Gordonstoun, this sense of possibility is presented to its students, every single day. Gordonstoun follows the English GCSE and A level curriculum. Performance in national qualifications was described as ‘an important strength of the school’ by HM Inspectors in 2019 and staff have a relentless drive to nurture each individual.

Physical education and sport is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. How does your school ensure children engage in physical activity?

We believe the best classrooms don't have walls and have pioneered outdoor education. As well as teaching resilience and teamwork this creates physical fitness. Our students go on regular expeditions as well as enjoying a full programme of sport and physical activities.

How does your school promote healthy lifestyles?

Gordonstoun believes it is the first school in the UK to marry its menu to the curriculum all year round in order to improve wellbeing and outcomes for its pupils. The latest nutritional research linking diet to performance was first applied at Gordonstoun in 2018 as part of an innovative ‘Active Revision’ course which offered ‘brain boosting’ foods rich in essential nutrients alongside exercise sessions to help with revision. All students on this course improved by at least one grade in their exams compared to their mocks, with 60% improving by two grades. As a result of this success, this year we introduced a ‘Phased Learning Menu’ for the whole school. On weekday mornings we offer a breakfast to boost concentration, memory and focus. Basing our menu on the latest research, we have porridge with a variety of health-boosting options such as sunflower seeds, goji berries and cranberries; and omega-rich smoked salmon and poached eggs with homemade artisan bread and Hollandaise sauce, containing essential fatty acids to absorb vitamins A, D and E. On Friday and Saturdays students are active in sports, therefore a new Carb and Protein Bar offers chicken, fish, rice and wholegrain bread to boost their carb and protein intake. Alongside this we offer nitrate-rich fresh vegetables to help oxygenate the blood.

During exam periods we increase the amount of fish and antioxidants on the menu and during inter-house sporting competitions we increase carbohydrate and low-fat meat or protein-rich alternatives.

In order to improve mental health overall, we make sure that macro nutrients (carbs, protein and fats) are the main part of each dish and that meals are also full of antioxidants. We have added foods packed with nutrients often missing in our diets including more fish, asparagus, red kale, purple sprouting broccoli, alongside spices like turmeric which is an antioxidant. We use whole-wheat and wholegrain flours and over 90% of the menu is now home-made so that we can limit the amount of saturated fat. More beans, lentils and vegetables have been added to vegetarian and vegan dishes to ensure they equally nutritious.

How do you promote healthy eating?

See above

Does the school have cafeteria facilities for the students? How does it promote a balanced diet?

All students eat in our Refectory. See above.

What is the approximate average cost of a lunchtime meal?

All meals are included in the fees.

What is the starting and finishing time of your school day?

0815 - 2030 for Senior School

0815 - 1730 for Junior School

Is there a school uniform?


How do you feedback progress and attainment to students and parents?

Every child has a tutor who acts as the main point of contact on educational matters. Every child also has a Houseparent who looks after pastoral care. Parents receive regular updates by phone call and email and can see their children's activities via our House social media feeds.

Which languages are taught at your school - please detail any as a first as well as second language?

French, Spanish, Latin, Greek

Do you offer EAL or TEFL support for those students where English is not their first language?


How do you support gifted, able and talented students?

We ensure that the most able students are supported with their learning by stretching them beyond the taught curriculum and further strengthen their interests out of the classroom. This includes a scholar’s programme of seminars, debates, dialogue society and Model United Nations.

Do you have a learning support team in your school?


Not all schools are staffed or resourced to offer learning support to those children with either moderate or significant learning needs. To what level can you offer support for those with learning differences?

Students with special educational needs are supported by three staff in the Learning Support department through 1:1, small group lessons or in-class support. In addition, students, regardless of need, can access the school’s unique programme of curricular support after lessons. Through the school’s qualified assessor we are able to recognise the individual needs of each student and therefore can provide a tailored programme of study to ensure barriers to curricular learning are removed and exam performance is not hindered. Part of our success in the Learning Support department is due to our openness to communicate with both Parents and Staff who may also request student assessments.

Does your school have particular expertise in dealing with a specific learning need such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, aspergers syndrome and so forth?

These needs are met by staff in our Learning Support Department (above)

Does your school have an educational psychologist or access to one to assess and support those youngsters with more challenging learning and emotional needs?


Is there an opportunity for parental representation on your school Board of Governors?


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