Robin MacPherson of Robert Gordons College

I grew up in Huntly so it’s wonderful to be back home in the North East of Scotland. My family moved to Edinburgh then I studied Modern History at Oxford. After university, I became a chef. Working in a kitchen requires a strong work ethic and the ability to perform under intense pressure. 

When I had a chance to go into teaching, I realised that was what I really wanted to do. After getting married, we moved to Dubai and spent three years teaching in a brand new school. It presented new challenges every day and crisis management became the norm – something that prepared me well for 2020! 

My next move was to Wellington College in Berkshire. The Master was Sir Anthony Seldon, and he remains one of my biggest educational influences. He made me think on a much bigger scale. I worked in teacher education, becoming content director for the Telegraph Festival of Education. I went into publishing, public speaking and events management and these are things that I really enjoy doing. 

When we started a family, we moved to Dollar Academy. We wanted our children to have a strong, Scottish education. When the chance came to join Robert Gordon’s I knew it was the perfect fit. It really is tailored to my experience, values and educational philosophy. It strikes a great balance between innovation and tradition, underpinned by a strong sense of ambition.

Our two young children attend nursery, so mornings are a flurry of activity with getting fed, dressed and out the door. The end of the day is about getting home for a family dinner and the bedtime routine. Every day is different. I have to deal with a lot of situations as a head teacher that emerge suddenly, but I make sure that I spend time on creative and strategic work so that we are always forward thinking. I have a great team of senior leaders and the staff are so committed, so there is a strong sense of purpose. We’re extremely lucky with the pupils we have, and if I had one wish it would be to spend more time teaching. I still teach S2 history so I’ve not lost touch with the craft of teaching.

Spare time is family time for us, and weekends are a bit of a novelty after working for so long in boarding schools. We explore the beautiful parks and beaches in the North East or catching up with a good series on Netflix. I’m an avid football fan and make time for running and golf. Reading and writing about education are labours of love. I’m aiming to get my next book out in 2021.

I’m keen that our school contributes to society at large.  Our participation in global networks, such as MIT and the GAIL schools, allows us to bring the wider world inside Gordon’s. The emphasis we put on innovation, entrepreneurship and curiosity are essential if we are to find solutions to the problems of the 21st century. 

As an independent school, we have more freedom to design our own curriculum, providing a bespoke education. We have a diverse pupil population and are very different to the tired stereotypes that still exist. There are people from all walks of life at RGC. Our bursary programme supports 1 in every 8 pupils in the Senior School.

We’re keen that pupils develop their own sense of identity. We always look to challenge them, and help them to be brave and adventurous, achieving things that they might not think possible. Being a Gordonian provides a lifelong network – professional not just social – connecting people across the world.

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