Robert Gordon's College
|Motto||Omni nunc arte magistra which translates to 'Now Is The Time For All Of Your Masterly Skill"|
|Type||Independent day school|
|Local authority||Aberdeen City|
|Houses||Blackfriars, Collyhill, Sillerton and Straloch|
Robert Gordon's College is an private co-educational day school in the heart of Aberdeen, Scotland. The school motto translates as ‘Now Is The Time For All Of Your Masterly Skill’. The school caters for pupils from Nursery through to S6.
It originally opened in 1750 as the result of a bequest by Robert Gordon, an Aberdeen merchant who made his fortune from trading with Baltic ports, and was known at foundation as Robert Gordon's Hospital. This was 19 years after Gordon had died and left his estate in a 'Deed of Mortification' to fund the foundation of the Hospital. The fine William Adam-designed building was in fact completed in 1732, but lay empty until 1745 until Gordon's foundation had sufficient funds to complete the interior. During the Jacobite Rising, in 1746 the buildings were commandeered by Hanoverian troops and named Fort Cumberland.
Gordon's aim was to give the poor boys of Aberdeen a firm education, or as he put it to "found a Hospital for the Maintenance, Aliment, Entertainment and Education of young boys from the city whose parents were poor and destitute". At this point all pupils at the school were boarders, but in 1881, the Hospital became a day school known as Robert Gordon's College. In 1903, the vocational education component of the college was designated a Central Institution (which was renamed as Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology in 1965 and became the Robert Gordon University in 1992). Boarding did not return until 1937 with the establishment of Sillerton House. In 1989 RGC became a co-educational school.
The Pelican: The original crest of Robert Gordon’s Hospital showed three boars’ heads, the arms of the Pitlurg branch of the Gordon family. Above stands a pelican plucking her breast to feed her young. This crest was used on the Governors’ seal and appears on the memorial to Robert Gordon in St Nicholas Kirk. The pelican was a well-known symbol of charity and was chosen to represent Robert Gordon’s gift to the next generation. In time the pelican became associated with the Hospital. It was embossed on the boys’ uniform buttons and also on the buttons of the janitor. With the coming of Robert Gordon’s College in 1881, the Governors adopted a new crest, but various images of the Pelican continued to be used on items such as blazers, sports caps and the cover of the Gordonian magazine from 1963-86. The Pelican magazine for former pupils was first published in 2005.
The modern school is divided into a Nursery, Junior School and Senior School, and caters for boys and girls from 3 to 18 years. Robert Gordon's College has long had a reputation as one of the strongest academic schools in Scotland, and follows the Scottish curriculum.
The Head of College, Mr Hugh Ouston, is a member of Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference
Arms and motto
The coat of arms or school crest shows the boar of the Gordon family, and a fort or keep on a red background. The latter is perhaps an allusion to the very similar coat of arms of the city of Hamburg, a founding member of the Hanseatic league of Baltic trading cities.
The Latin motto of the college, 'Omni nunc arte magistra' translates to 'Be the best you can be'.
The school operates four houses, to one of which each student is allocated upon entering the school. The houses compete for different sporting and academic trophies throughout the year, and determine each student's form class.
The four houses are:
- Blackfriars - named for the Dominican monks (or black friars due to their garb), that once had a convent adjacent to the school grounds.
- Collyhill - named for Alexander Simpson of Collyhill who bequeathed a large sum of money to the school, which allowed for more boys to join the school.
- Sillerton - The origin of the Sillerton house name is not clear, but it is believed that, in Robert Gordon's lifetime, he was known as Gordon of Silverton (siller being Scots for silver), and on a 1746 map, the school is identified as Sillerton Hospital.
- Straloch - named for Robert Gordon of Straloch, one of the first graduates of Marischal College, studying humanities, mathematics and philosophy.
Notable former pupils
Former pupils include:
- Ian Black was a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1958 at the age of only seventeen. He later returned to RGC as Headmaster of the Junior School.
- Michael Gove, former journalist for The Times, MP for Surrey Heath (2005-present), Current Secretary of State for Education (2010-present).
- Martin Buchan, former footballer and captain with Manchester United, Aberdeen and Scotland
- David Carry, Commonwealth gold medal winner
- Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson and Stuart Grimes, Scottish rugby players
- William "Buff" Hardie, one-third of Scottish comedy act Scotland the What?
- William Dickie Niven, theologian
- BBC Radio Scotland presenter Robbie Shepherd
- Nicol Stephen, politician
- Stewart Sutherland, Baron Sutherland of Houndwood, academic and public servant
- Robert A. Thom, steam locomotive engineer
- Sandi Thom, singer
- Jack Webster, local writer
- John West, Depute Provost of Aberdeen (elected at the age of 18).
- Sir Ian Wood, Scottish businessman and Chancellor of the Robert Gordon University
- Ruaridh Jackson, Scottish International rugby player
- Ian Frazer, Key developer of the HPV vaccine
Former pupils' sports clubs
Gordonians RFC was originally founded by old pupils of the school. Former pupils also formed Gordonians Hockey Club and Gordonians Cricket Club. These clubs all play their home matches at the College's Countesswells Playing Field. There are a set of honours boards in the pavilion at Countesswells which record the names of Gordonians who have represented their country at rugby, hockey, cricket and other sports.
- "History of RGC". Rgc.aberdeen.sch.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- Webster, J. (2005) The Auld Hoose - The Story of Robert Gordon's College. ISBN 1-84502-051-0
- ‘NIVEN, William Dickie’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 30 March 2014
- Nicol Stephen's MSP site
- Marshall, John (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. p. 214. ISBN 0-7153-7489-3.
- "'97-'98 Class List". Rgc.aberdeen.sch.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- Councillor's Biography - John West
- Kirsty Scott (2007-06-13). "Guardian Unlimited - Fresh-faced challenge". London: Politics.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- Homepage of Robert Gordon's College
- Robert Gordon's College's page on Scottish Schools Online
- Robert Gordon's College bookplate on Footnote
- Profile on the ISC website
- HMIE Inspection Reports