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Introducing Gordonstoun School's Wide Range of Scholarships

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Children from all backgrounds can apply for a place at Gordonstoun through its extensive scholarship programmes.

Young people from all backgrounds apply for scholarships to attend Gordonstoun, the leading co-educational school on the coast of Moray, Scotland. Pupils who attend Gordonstoun follow in the footsteps of three generations of British royalty, Nobel prize-winners, Olympians, business leaders, and hundreds of other inspirational alumni. And it's no surprise that the school's scholarships are immensely popular - Gordonstoun's character-driven curriculum has helped children from all over the world reach their potential and flourish in careers for over 80 years.

But who can apply for Gordonstoun's scholarships? And what types are on offer?

Who Can Apply for a Gordonstoun Scholarship?

Gordonstoun scholarship applicants must be academically gifted, compassionate, empathetic adventure lovers. That's not to say candidates must have already shaped their skills; Gordonstoun helps successful applicants fulfil their potential and develop their confidence, responsibility, resilience, teamwork skills, and international outlook. In short, Gordonstoun looks for applicants who have the potential to make a difference to the world.

Young people may apply for scholarship places at Gordonstoun's junior school, secondary school (entry during years seven or nine), and sixth form. Gordonstoun may ask applicants to complete exam papers in English, Maths, and verbal reasoning. The school makes allowances for applicants whose current schools don't prepare them for scholarship examinations.

What Scholarships Does Gordonstoun Offer?

Gordonstoun offers scholarships for:

  • Children whose parents serve the Royal Navy or Royal Marines.
  • Children from mid-Wales or Scotland, particularly Perthshire.
  • Children from Germany or Rwanda.
  • Children whose parents serve the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services in the Grampian area.
  • Children who show outstanding potential in leadership, sports, and other aspects of the school curriculum. For example, Gordonstoun recently awarded one pupil a scholarship based on his amazing cycling abilities, amongst other strengths.
  • Children of sea fishing families, especially from the former county of Banff.

Bursary for Children of Local Fishing Families

Here, Kiera, a year 12 pupil who receives the bursary for children from fishing families, shares her Gordonstoun scholarship experience.

'Fishing runs in our family. My grandfather started off as a fisherman and many of my uncles are fishermen. I grew up in the fishing village of Buckie although I moved to Aberdeen when I was 11. I applied for a sports scholarship but then Gordonstoun told me that I was eligible for the bursary for local fishing families. It's unlikely I would have been able to come here if it wasn't for this bursary as my mum is a single parent. Although I only came here for the sixth form, I've already been on a five day sail training voyage and two expeditions which lasted several days each. I'm the Captain of Hockey, the Captain of the Sports Centre and Physical Education, the Captain of the Sports Service, the Captain of the Dialogue Society and the Captain of Juniors, which just goes to show the impact you can make in a short space of time!'

'I'm hoping to study Sports Science and Physiotherapy at University. I think it's very appropriate that I came to a school where sailing and the water is a big thing. I'd been on fishing boats before but never on a sailing boat where you were actually required to do the physical work to sail the boat. I'm now hoping to study Sports Science and Physiotherapy at University. I'm so grateful for the opportunity that this bursary gave me to come to Gordonstoun.' [CM2]

The Bob Boyd Fire Bursary

The Bob Boyd Fire Bursary allows one young person whose parents serve the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to attend Gordonstoun's sixth form. The bursary stems from the generous legacy of Bob Boyd, who studied at Gordonstoun when the school evacuated to Wales during the second world war. He was one of the first pupils to join Gordonstoun's Fire Service.

Today, applicants must demonstrate they can make an outstanding contribution to (and benefit from) at least one aspect of Gordonstoun's curriculum e.g. academic study, performing arts, sports, outdoor education, or sailing. The successful applicant receives a 50 percent discount on their school fees. The successful applicant for the Bob Boyd Fire Bursary also has the opportunity to join the school's Fire Service. Community service is an important part of Gordonstoun's philosophy, and many pupils and teachers volunteer for Gordonstoun's fully operational onsite fire service. Members of the Gordonstoun Fire Service are on call one week in every three, 24 hours a day.

The first recipient of the Bob Boyd Fire Scholarship, Hamilton Burr, joined Gordonstoun as an avid rugby player and completed his A Levels in 2014. He now plays rugby for the BT Scottish Rugby Academy and plays full time for Stirling County RFC.

Gordonstoun is now looking for its next Fire Service scholar.

The Neumayer Stiftung Scholarship

As Gordonstoun continues to welcome children from around the world, the school also offers scholarship places for a few German pupils to join its sixth form. Gordonstoun launched the Neumayer Stiftung Scholarship in Berlin, the home of its founder Kurt Hahn, who fled Nazi Germany and opened Gordonstoun in the North of Scotland in 1934. His aim was to run a school that provided character-driven education and helped pupils become world citizens who support their communities.

The Neumayer Stiftung Foundation funds the bursary for German children, which is means-tested and free of charge for children who come from low-income households. The Foundation's Chair, Felix Gutsche, is a former Gordonstoun pupil himself.

'There was a spark in me which was lit at Gordonstoun,' he says. 'By facing a wide range of challenges, I learned to just get on with it and give anything a go. I came out stronger, both mentally and physically. Having been tested I realised I was capable of more than I previously thought I was capable of. Gordonstoun changed my life and now I want to be able to change the life of another young person, especially someone who wouldn't normally have this kind of opportunity open to them.'

The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation

In 2019, as a former pupil himself, Prince Philip gave his name to Gordonstoun's latest scholarship, a foundation that allows children from a range of backgrounds to enjoy a life-changing education at Gordonstoun. The Prince Philip Gordonstoun Foundation allows these children to access the financial support they need to attend and allows the school to develop a diverse, inclusive community. Around a third of Gordonstoun's pupils receive this financial support.

When successful applicants join Gordonstoun, they enjoy experiences that span from learning to sail the school's 80-foot sailboat to challenging themselves on expeditions in the Scottish wilderness and working with pupils from over 40 countries in Gordonstoun's tranquil 200-acre woodland campus.

Alumni Reflections

Reflecting on his Gordonstoun school days, Ian Durant, chairman of Greggs said:

'The scholarship which allowed me to attend Gordonstoun opened my eyes to a future of possibilities, if only I was prepared to pursue them. I was inspired to a lifelong love of literature thanks to an inspiring teacher and the school's first Writer in Residence, a South African poet. Above all, the school gave me the confidence to try, and the resilience to see failure as a step on the journey.'

Meanwhile, alumni Faith Keza has found that her Gordonstoun experience put her on the path to secure a place at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, work for Google, and then become the chief executive of a technology company in Rwanda.

'At Gordonstoun School, I met and interacted with people from all over the world,' she says. 'The diversity of activities on campus helped shape my world view beyond the classroom and into the community where impact can be made. I always enjoyed Math and the school gave me the opportunity to explore STEM further and that eventually led me to M.I.T. Though M.I.T was tough, the strong foundation I had built at Gordonstoun helped me dig deeper. My two years at Gordonstoun set me on a different life path that has helped me learn and grow faster and opened many opportunities.'

How Does Gordonstoun Award Bursaries?

Bursaries are means-tested, which means some eligible pupils receive up to 110 percent of their school fees in a bursary fund. Gordonstoun runs its extensive scholarship programme with its own resources and fundraising initiatives, designated scholarship fund, and contributions from external trusts and benefactors like the Rank Foundation and the Royal Springboard Foundation. Pupils receive funds throughout their school career (subject to an annual review).

'Here at Gordonstoun, we encourage diversity for the benefit of all our students,' says the school's Principal Lisa Kerr. 'It was the vision of our founder, Kurt Hahn, that children should be able to benefit from a Gordonstoun education regardless of their ability to pay. So, we welcome applications from children from all walks of life, and our bursaries are means tested. It's always worth checking whether there is something unique about you which means you can apply for a bursary. However, it is competitive. Students must demonstrate that they are exceptional young people with real strengths and potential.'

About Gordonstoun School

Gordonstoun School is the pioneer of character education, which informs its academic curriculum, outdoor learning activities, and dedication to community service. Over 100 instructors and teaching staff help children aged 4-18 hone their skills in all aspects of Gordonstoun's extensive curriculum. These pupils learn in some of the smallest teaching groups the UK has to offer, enjoy using state-of-the-art facilities, and make the most of the great outdoors. The school's latest inspection describes Gordonstoun as both 'outstanding' and 'sector leading'.

Learn more about Gordonstoun School.

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