43 of Gordonstoun School alumni say outdoor lessons didnt help their academic

“There was so much to do outside the classroom I rather neglected my academic studies and failed to get into university,” one alumni told the report. With its motto “broader experiences, broader minds”, Gordonstoun has long prided itself on fostering resilience by encouraging pupils to take part in hearty outdoor activities.  But a new report, commissioned by the £38,000-a-year Scottish boarding school which counts the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh among its alumni, found that this approach did not serve all students well. A survey of over 1,000 former students found that almost half (43 per cent) felt that the emphasis on extra-curricular activities did not help or even negatively impacted their academic studies.The poll of alumni – known as Old Gordonstounians – was part of research that the school commissioned Dr Simon Beames, a senior lecturer in outdoor learning at Edinburgh University’s school of education.  A report, titled “The nature and impact of Gordonstoun School’s out-of-classroom learning experiences”, was published in May last year.The majority (57 per cent) of the school’s alumni felt that activities such as sailing and outdoor expeditions “somewhat or definitely enhanced” their academic studies, the survey found.  But the report noted that this was “the most contested issue to emerge from the OGs survey findings and revealed very contrasting viewpoints”.It said that there were a “number of highly critical responses” which included some students blaming the school’s approach on their failure to get into university, or even advance their career. UPDATE: An earlier version of this article wrongly stated that Dr Simon Beames’ report was published earlier this month.  In fact it was published in May last year.  In addition, the original headline focussed on the effect of outdoor lessons on pupils’ ‘prospects’ when it should have said ‘academic prospects’.  Following representations by Gordonstoun School, for which we are grateful, we have updated the text accordingly. The report found that overall, extra-curricular activities at Gordonstoun “have a powerful and enduring influence on students’ personal growth”, with 94 per cent of alumni rating their effect “positive” and 81 per cent “very positive”. Meanwhile, the effect on careers was rated “positive” by 73.8 per cent of  alumni and “very positive” by 52 per cent.The report also concluded that students build confidence and resilience through participating in outdoor pursuits. They develop a “just get on with it” attitude and become accustomed to “giving it a go”, it said.The Principal of Gordonstoun, Lisa Kerr, said: “The research was published a year ago and the findings were overwhelmingly positive about the lifelong benefits of learning experiences outside the classroom. The research backs up what we have seen with our own eyes – that education is about more than just exams results and our students become resilient, confident and responsible young adults.”A report published last year found that parents should not stop children playing sport in the run up to exams because it has no impact on results.Taking part in competitive team games in the run up to GCSE and A-level exams will have no negative effects on a teenager’s grades, according to research commissioned by The Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference. Another said: “My overall problem with Gordonstoun’s extra-curricular activities was that (in the 1970s) these were at the cost of good academic standards. “I failed my A-levels – having entered 3rd Form with highest Common Entrance marks – and failed to get into university. This, in retrospect, has had a seriously negative impact on my career.”Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother had warned against sending Prince Charles to boarding school in Scotland because she thought he would be miserable.She petitioned the Queen not to send Prince Charles to Gordonstoun in Moray as he would feel “terribly cut off and lonely in the far north” and suggested that he instead attend the “staunchly protestant” Eton.  Despite the Queen Mother’s pleas, the Duke of Edinburgh ruled that his eldest son would attend his alma mater, located in rugged countryside near Elgin.But her concerns proved accurate after the young prince described the inter-denominational school as “Colditz in kilts”.  In a letter home in 1963, he wrote: “The people in my dormitory are foul. Goodness, they are horrid. I don’t know how anybody could be so foul.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A young Prince Charles arrives for his first term at Gordonstoun school A young Prince Charles arrives for his first term at Gordonstoun schoolCredit:William Vanderson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *