Co-curricular opportunities and future careers

Posted on 1st Mar 2024 in Which School?, School News, Co-curricular

Gordon’s School explains why co-curricular activities are a fundamental part of school life and how they help equip students with essential skills for the future.

No doubting the importance of exam grades and qualifications, but increasingly employers are looking at the soft skills that separate one candidate from another.

And while the classroom will gain students their first job or place at university, it is the character acquired on the games field or in the school play, the team spirit, ability to get on with others as part of a team – a thirst for success, that will sustain them through life.

Gordon’s School, a non-selective residential boarding and day school in Surrey and Boarding School of the Year in the TES Schools Awards for 2022, boasts a top five per cent place for progress at A Levels of all schools in England and Wales. Telling that the statistic is for progress as the

school places such importance on sport and co-curricular activities.

All students are given opportunities throughout the day to play sport, indulge in a hobby or interest or perhaps set up their own society - with a choice of 128 activities currently on offer! This is carried through to Saturday mornings.

The school also records higher than average numbers of students completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards. And in Year 10 every student joins the CCF (Combined Cadet Force), choosing the Army, Navy or Air Force.

Students are also encouraged to apply for leadership posts during their time at Gordon’s, whether becoming a Student Governor; Head of House/Prefect or taking on the role of team captain in sports teams or Pipe/Drum Major in the Pipes and Drums. As part of their leadership positions, they are offered the chance to study for industry-recognised qualifications through the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management).

Careers Lead Augusta Kennedy sees these opportunities as vital not only for their physical and mental wellbeing but for improving transferrable skills and ultimately their chances in whatever they decide to do after leaving school.

“Increasingly employers aren’t just looking at exam grades but the additional skills that candidates can bring to the workplace. Duke of Edinburgh Awards for instance, demonstrate commitment, diversity, the ability to handle pressure, time management, a have a go attitude and certainly enhances a student’s employability.

“The opportunities that students have access to at Gordon’s, which include sport, DofE, CCF, creative arts and the many chances to perform publicly, take students out of their comfort zone. They become more confident through taking part in these disciplines, learn leadership qualities, versatility, perseverance, endurance, teamwork, problem-solving and discover new skills - all necessary qualities for their working life whatever career they choose.”

All the major sports are represented at Gordon’s as well as equestrian, golf, karting and cycling and there are ample and varied opportunities for creative arts including drama, music, art and LAMDA with many chances to participate in plays, exhibitions and performances.

The new sports hub and additional all-weather sports pitch has enhanced the already extensive sporting facilities at Gordon’s and creative arts has benefitted from new art studios with plans for a new performing arts centre.

In September 2020 the school welcomed the first clutch of students on the Harlequins DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme to provide a pathway for 16-18 year olds pursuing a professional career in rugby. Partnerships with Superleague Netball team Surrey Storm and National League Football Team Aldershot Town have followed.

The commitment to sports extends to the school’s staff. Many of them have excelled in their fields, ensuring the highest level of coaching and commitment. The impressive line-up includes Pakistan Olympic Hockey player Muhammad Irfan together with former GB hockey player David Mathews; former Wales International and ex-Chelsea player Gareth Hall and three times Olympian cox Alan Inns.

Some students leave Gordon’s for American universities on scholarships for golf and football. Others are set to tread a path to becoming a professional sportsman or woman in this country. But all take part in some form of competitive sport, whatever their ability.

Director of Sport Jamie Harrison explained why there is such a strong emphasis on co-curricular options at Gordon’s and the importance of encouraging every student to participate.

“The ethos of the school is to develop the whole child and our sporting and creative arts infrastructure provides our students with the best coaching, facilities and experiences. Every student is encouraged to have a go at something.

“The emphasis at Gordon’s is very much ‘why not?’ and we see time and again those that would otherwise not attempt competitive sport or performing in a play, doing so, enjoying and benefitting from it!”

This article first appeared in the 2024 edition of Which School? You can view the digital version of the guidebook here: