Gordonstoun: Prince Charles' boarding school to open Chinese campus

Lizzie Roberts
Gordonstoun School, Moray, Scotland.  - Gordonstoun/Gordonstoun

Gordonstoun, the school Prince Charles famously described as ‘Colditz in Kilts’, is to open a Chinese campus, it’s been announced.

The independent boarding school, which was established in Moray, Scotland in 1934, will open the first location in 2022, with plans to open more in the future.

The exact location of the first school is yet to be announced, but Principal Lisa Kerr has said it will “be chosen to enable access to green spaces and the sea, both key features of a Gordonstoun education”.  

She added the school’s “unique education ethos” has attracted students from all over the world, and opening a Chinese campus is the “next logical step”.

“We believe this is the right time to share our approach with China and offer the best of Chinese education with key elements of the unique Gordonstoun approach, which equips students with the skills for the modern business world and teaches them the importance of being an active member of the community,” Ms Kerr said. 

A young Prince Charles arriving for his first term at Gordonstoun school in 1962, accompanied by his father Prince Phillip. Credit: William Vanderson /Hulton Royals Collection 

The Highlands school, which the Prince of Wales attended in the 1960s and reportedly described as a “prison sentence”, is known for emphasising outdoor activities, including cross-country running, seamanship and mountaineering. 

The school has rejected claims Prince Charles was unhappy at the school, as depicted in the Netflix drama, The Crown.

Gordonstoun claims, in a speech the Prince made in the House of Lords, as well as an interview printed in the Observer Magazine, he has a more nuanced view of his education that the drama suggests. 

The school educates around 500 students aged 5 to 18, a third of which are from international backgrounds. 

Due to its international appeal, Gordonstoun expects demand will be high for places on the new campus.

“We anticipate significant demand for a Gordonstoun style education from Chinese families,” Ms Kerr said.

“Gordonstoun has been welcoming children from China for many years and we continue to have extremely strong demand for Chinese families at our school in the highlands.”

When asked whether the school’s relatively strict reputation would appeal to Chinese students and their parents, Ms Kerr was quick to reject the description.

“This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gordonstoun ethos and no one at Gordonstoun would recognise this description,” she said.

“Our students live in a caring and nurturing environment with outstanding pastoral care in which every single one of them is valued for who they are and are encouraged and supported by both their peers and teachers to get the most out of their time at school.”

Gourdonstoun is following in the footsteps of other British schools which have set up international campuses in China.

Wellington College, which charges around £41,580-a-year runs schools in Tianjin, Shanghai and Hangzhou, while the £44,346-a-year Dulwich College has two schools in Shanghai, one in in Beijing and Suzhou.