SITTING amid 300 acres of glorious Perthshire countryside with Munros on the doorstep, Glenalmond College does indeed boast a quite magical location – one that Warden Mark Mortimer, who joined the school in January, is quick to praise.

“I’ve been blown away by Perthshire,” he says. “Previously, I was Head of two schools in the south of England – in Dorset and Wiltshire – so I have been lucky enough to work in beautiful parts of the country before, but Perthshire is amazing.

“Our location is definitely a huge attraction but the fact it’s only about an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow means that it’s really accessible.”

The Scottish Farmer: GlenalmondGlenalmond

Glenalmond College undoubtedly provides an environment that is conducive to learning with a strong academic focus within the framework of an all-round education for both boarders and day pupils. Its ethos, however, is to nurture pupils not just from an academic perspective but across all aspects of their lives.

Mr. Mortimer, who points out that the school opened its doors to pupils in 1847 and was founded by politician WE Gladstone, says: “It is quite clear that the school was deliberately sited here to take advantage of its surroundings and you really feel that Glenalmond spirit and connection to the countryside. We are custodians of the environment and natural world for future generations in the same way that we have a responsibility to guide and protect our pupils.”

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At Glenalmond, it is about balancing what happens in the classroom with what pupils learn outside the classroom with the structure designed to help pupils challenge themselves, discover new interests, identify qualities they didn’t know they had, and prepare them for life after school.

The school welcomes boys and girls aged 12 to 18 as boarders or day pupils and currently, there are children from up to 16 different countries around the world. “As a relatively small school – 330 pupils – you get to know everybody which is really important for young people,” says Mr Mortimer.

With its own Chapel, pipe band, and strong sports facilities to its reputation for music and drama, the Glenalmond experience is a unique one for all pupils. Scholarships and bursaries are available.

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Staff live on-site which provides huge peace of mind for parents who know their children are safe and secure.

Glenalmond offers GCSEs, A-levels, Highers, and BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) qualifications. “Our exam results are excellent and while that is important, they are not everything and we instil in our pupils that Glenalmond can help them become the type of young person who can make a difference as a kind citizen,” says Mr Mortimer.

The Scottish Farmer: There is a variety of activities at Glenalmond There is a variety of activities at Glenalmond

“Yes, it is about adding academic value, but it is also leaving school as a well-rounded individual who will always help others and our vast community involvement is very much part of that, whether it’s doing things with other local schools or supporting Doddie Aid.”

How else does Glenalmond College stand out from other independent schools? Well, it has its own nine-hole golf course and indoor golf hub, indoor swimming pool, Olympic standard multi-used pitches, and a theatre.

“That is something else that sets us apart and there is that feeling of camaraderie throughout the day, every morning the entire school comes together for a short service in Chapel.

“Glenalmond was a boys’ school until 30 years ago and we have countless famous alumni – Old Glenalmonds – including Scotland rugby players Rob Wainwright and David Sole.

The school, he continues, has a strong heritage in farming and land-owning so it is no surprise that Glenalmond has its own Head of Outdoor Learning in recognition of the benefits of outdoor education in shaping well-rounded individuals.

It also offers a vocational course – BTEC in Countryside Management – which is intricately connected to the value it puts on its role as guardians of nature, the environment, and its Perthshire location. With the River Almond flowing through the grounds, there are opportunities for fishing and spotting nature with pupils sharing the grounds with red squirrels, otters, and deer.

“Whether pupils are climbing Munros, sailing, rock climbing or mountain biking, these activities allow them to engage and work closely with others which encourages them to think critically, be curious and solve problems,” says Mr Mortimer. “It is about a willingness to step out of your comfort zone, build resilience and self-confidence – pushing yourself that little bit further.

“At Glenalmond, we encourage everyone to give 100%, seize opportunities, and be kind to one another – that is what will stay with our pupils when they move on in the world.”