At Gordon’s School, Surrey there is a strong focus on sport for wellbeing and skills, but also for the soft skills it develops, says Careers Lead Caroline Sims

There is no doubting the importance of exam grades, but increasingly employers are looking at the soft skills that separate one candidate from another. While the classroom will gain students their place at university or first job, 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 – and thirst for success – that will sustain them through life.

At Gordon’s, we have a top one per cent place for progress at A levels of all schools in England and Wales. It is telling that the statistic is for progress as the school places such importance on sport and co-curricular activities. All students are given a daily opportunity to play sport or pursue a hobby or interest. This is carried through to Saturday mornings. The school has a higher-than-average number of students completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and every student joins the Combined Cadet Force in Year 10. We see these opportunities beyond the classroom as vital, not only for our students’ physical and mental wellbeing but also for improving transferable skills and ultimately their chances in whatever they decide to do after leaving us.

Having the DofE Award on a CV demonstrates commitment, diversity, the ability to handle pressure, time management and a have-a-go attitude. All these elements certainly enhance a student’s employability. And whether it is sport, DofE, CCF, activities beyond the classroom take students out of their comfort zone. They become more confident as they learn new skills and find out more about leadership, perseverance, endurance, teamwork and problem solving. These elements are necessary qualities for their working life, whatever career they choose.

Sporting chances – Gordon's School on developing soft skills
Opportunities such as Scouts and DofE build skills valued by employers, says Gordon’s School

“Opportunities beyond the classroom are vital, not only for our students’ wellbeing but also for improving transferable skills”

Of course, sport is a huge draw, with all major sports represented at Gordon’s, alongside equestrian, golf,  karting and cycling. Last September, we welcomed the first  clutch of students on the Harlequins DiSE (Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme, a pathway for 16 to18 year olds looking to pursue a career in rugby. They train in an environment similar to that of a professional rugby club while also continuing their education. Our new sports hall, completed in October,  and another all-weather sports pitch enable sportsmen and women at the school to compete in even more disciplines – including futsal, badminton, indoor cricket, athletics, football and basketball – whatever the weather.

The commitment to sports extends to staff, and many have excelled in their field. The line-up includes Pakistan Olympic Hockey player Muhammad Irfan; former GB hockey player David Mathews; former Wales International and ex-Chelsea player Gareth Hall; former Fiji 7s Skills and Analyst Coach Chris Davies; three times Olympian rowing cox Alan Inns and Surrey Storm netballers Nicole Humphrys and Leah Middleton.

Some students leave Gordon’s for American universities on scholarships and others are set to tread a sporting path in this country, but all students take part in some form of competitive sport. As Director of Sport Jamie Harrison explains it: “The ethos of the school is to develop the whole child and our sporting infrastructure provides our students with the best coaching, facilities and experiences”.

Every one of them is encouraged to have a go at something. adds Jamie Harrison. “The emphasis at Gordon’s is very much ‘why not?’. We see time and again those that would otherwise not attempt competitive sport, doing so for their House and enjoying and benefiting from it.”

Find out more about Gordon’s School

Further reading: Meet The Mintridge Foundation