School inspection reveals excellence across all areas of Robert Gordon’s community


HMIe Inspectors have published an excellent inspection report for Robert Gordon’s College highlighting the school’s strengths as one of Scotland’s leading educational institutions. The school has been recognised for outstanding educational attainment and the impact their pupils make in the world.

The team of inspectors from Education Scotland, who visited in February 2024, praised the College for “outstanding and sustained levels of academic attainment across the school”, year on year, highlighting that “young people’s very strong performance in examinations is frequently above national averages.” The inspectors reported that the standard of learning in literacy and numeracy in the Robert Gordon’s College Junior School was exceeding national expectations with a significant number of children across all stages working beyond national standards. In the senior school young people’s attainment and progress in literacy and numeracy has been described as outstanding, with the College being praised for its dedicated teaching approaches that carefully track the progress of those young people who require additional support to be successful in their learning.

As well as being rated “excellent” for pupil attainment, the school was praised for its outstanding practice in four specific areas. These are equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), international partnerships, the quality of staff professional learning, and the ground-breaking digital school, RGC Online.

The school was also recognised for successfully promoting and celebrating highly effective approaches to inclusion, particularly for those members of the school community with protected characteristics. The report notes that “a key strength of RGC is staff’s well-developed and highly successful approaches to promoting equality and diversity.” As a result, the inspectors feel “RGC is a highly inclusive school where individuals are supported to feel confident and respected by all.”

The inspectors commended Robert Gordon’s College for its proactive approach in the 3-18 curriculum and its inclusive, positive, nurturing culture created by all staff who take time to get to know every learner as an individual. Spending time speaking with pupils, staff and parents, the team of inspectors concluded that Robert Gordon’s pupils are highly motivated by their enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate teachers, and pupils are confident to seek help when required, receiving exceptional support from caring staff who know them very well. As a result, they are “rightly very proud to be ‘Gordonians’.”

The extensive range of opportunities for children and young people to achieve success outside the classroom was viewed as a strength of the school, with inspectors reporting that staff and partners strive to provide sports, creative arts, clubs and activities that motivate and engage learners of all ages. The inspectors also commented that they were impressed to find that staff ensure that no one misses out on these enriching pursuits.

Robin Macpherson, Head of College, shared: “We are very proud of the excellent practice that the HMIe team identified during their visit, and being invited to share four distinct areas of best practice with other Scottish schools is a testament to the whole Gordon’s community. We have brilliant staff who are passionate about their own development as teachers, and that directly benefits our pupils. Their academic attainment at all stages is incredible, and we pride ourselves on offering an unparalleled breadth of opportunities in the co-curriculum. I’m delighted that the inspectors recognised how inclusive our community is, and how well we both embrace and celebrate our diversity. We have a very clear ethos and sense of identity, with the philanthropic values of Robert Gordon alive and well through our outreach and impact in the wider community.”

Jane Tulloch, Head of Junior School, commented: “We are thrilled that the inspectors recognised the importance we place on providing the very best start in a child’s educational journey. By focusing on foundational learning in reading, writing and numeracy our pupils build upon these skills as they progress through their education. This is crucial for academic achievement, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication which are essential for success in every aspect of life. Our Nursery and Junior School staff invest a lot of time preparing our youngest learners to achieve these important skills, setting them up for a lifetime of learning and growth.

“We pride ourselves on the importance we place on our school community. The relationships that are forged between pupils, teachers and parents is an impressive and integral part of the culture at Robert Gordons’ and our community benefits greatly here in Scotland, and with our international outreach globally with alumni and international partnerships that are in place to enhance our pupils’ educational experience.”

Clare Smith, Head of Senior School, said: “We devote extensive time to reviewing our practices to ensure continuous improvement as a school. We are extremely proud of our outstanding attainment levels and dedicated teaching strategies which allow us to effectively monitor our pupils who require additional support with their learning. We are pleased that the inspection team praised the very positive learning environment, which is underpinned by the high expectations we have of behaviour and effort.”

A recent change in practice that has enabled improvement is the introduction of a new policy for mobile phone use around school which has quickly and positively impacted social behaviour throughout the school day. The experience has been quick and positive with staff reporting tangible benefits being realised. It was encouraging to learn that pupils also reported to the inspection team that they have found improved concentration, socialisation and communication as a result of the phone policy.

The College’s sector leading approaches to new educational programmes have also been highlighted in the report. RGC Online was praised by the inspection team for its innovative approach to learning, widening access to study SQA Higher subjects to young people across Scotland. Furthermore, the international partnerships with MIT and the Global Alliance for Innovative Learning (GAIL) provide pupils with access to global education leaders in other regions, providing real academic and personal extension through the 3-18 super curriculum.

Clare Smith adds: “The diverse post-school destinations of our leavers reflects the personalised support each pupil receives to ensure their individual pathway is the optimal one for them. Our recent inspection success reinforces our commitment to excellence and highlights the dedication of our staff and the remarkable achievements of our pupils.”

Robin Macpherson summarised: “Ultimately, our pupils’ happiness and success beyond school is the real measure of a Robert Gordon’s College education. We are really proud of our pupils’ success as they transition in their paths beyond school, becoming Gordonians who feel empowered to continue their learning beyond school, living and working in any part of the world. The DNA of our alumni is extraordinary and there is a very strong sense of pride attached to being a Gordonian. That gets channelled back into our current pupils through a very high level of alumni engagement, and creates even more opportunities. The inspection report has been fantastic for our whole community and underpins the ambition we have for each pupil who joins Robert Gordon’s College.”

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