Inside Prince Philip's former boarding school, which charges up to $19,000 per semester and has Saturday classes and bonfires on the beach
- Gordonstoun is an elite
boarding schoolin the Scottish Highlands.
- The $19,000-per-semester school once enrolled
Prince Philipand his son Prince Charles.
- The school's mandatory subjects include sailing and dance.
Most people know Gordonstoun as the $19,000-a-semester boarding school that has been attended by royalty and featured on "The Crown."
But according to Principal Lisa Kerr, the school in the Scottish Highlands is so much more than that.
Kerr says the school - whose alumni include Prince Charles and the late Prince Philip - sets itself apart from similar establishments by focusing on more than just grades.
Students must interview to be admitted to the school, but the process is about "getting to know both the children and the parents" rather than their academic achievements, Kerr told Insider.
"There'll be lots of parents who say, look at our children, they have all A-stars," Kerr said, referencing the highest grade students in the UK can be awarded in examinations.
"We think children of all abilities and all talents are valuable. We want a wide range of students - the best scientists, the best mathematicians," she said. "But we also have students who might struggle in those areas but who are the most wonderful leaders on an expedition or who will be the star of the show in a drama performance."
Senior students take classes on Saturdays and have bonfires on the beach
Prince Philip was one of the first students to attend the school when it opened its doors in 1934. At the time, only boys were admitted to Gordonstoun.
Today Gordonstoun has its own dance studio, theater department, and a sports center with an indoor rock-climbing wall and swimming pool. The school also has its own golf course on campus.
Sailing has been on the curriculum since Philip was a student and is mandatory for students attending the school today.
"Even if you're not good at sailing, you still have to do it because you'll learn a lot," Kerr said. "Doing something that you're not good at and you don't like doesn't define you. You're still a good person and will still succeed in life. It makes you brave and more likely to succeed in the future."
Kerr says the school has become more focused on academics since Prince Philip and Prince Charles' attendance. There is a wide range of subjects on offer, including sociology, internationalism, and dance.
"Everybody does dance at Gordonstoun, including the boys," Kerr said. "Everyone has to learn to dance because we know it's a wonderful way of connecting and strengthening the brain, which allows other areas of development."
"There's a wonderful story of a boy who came to Gordonstoun on a rugby scholarship and ended up leaving to go to dance college," she added.
Some students are also expected to attend class on the weekends. According to the Gordonstoun website, senior school students (ages 14-17) attend Saturday school in the mornings and partake in other activities during the afternoons.
The school organizes recreational activities in the evening, including bonfires on the beach and game nights.
Gordonstoun hosts a summer school each year in which children have the opportunity to try their hand at jewelry making as part of the creative arts and technology course.
The school has adhered to the UK's social-distancing restrictions by offering outdoor lessons. It is also following the Boarding Schools' Association's COVID-safe charter, which states that schools must conduct deep cleans of indoor spaces and offer suitable isolation areas for students who show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
Kerr says Gordonstoun was misrepresented in 'The Crown'
Philip and Charles' experiences at the school were portrayed in a season two episode of "The Crown," titled "Paterfamilias." Kerr told Insider that the show's portrayal was misleading.
The episode shows an emotional Philip, who'd just lost his sister, work through his grief by building a brick wall and iron gates at the school's entrance. His sister, Princess Cecilie, died in a plane crash in 1937.
"I think Gordonstoun has been very strongly misrepresented in television through the years. And while '
The episode also references the students being forced to take cold showers after their morning run. Kerr said the school doesn't impose "a harsh regime" as it was portrayed.
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