Pupils at Robert Gordon’s College were able to look to the future as the school launched the first ever Creative Minds Festival on Friday 4 November to highlight the importance of creativity and showcase the wide range of creative talent available in our alumni network. Eleven Gordonians from across the UK returned to Aberdeen to share their experience and advice from their career, encouraging pupils to explore their creative side, use their imagination and celebrate what they are passionate about as they plan their future pathway.

Junior School pupils were impressed learning about the careers of former pupils working in songwriting, musical theatre, journalism and app design as the festival launched their 2 week World of Work mini topic which focuses on building skills and developing qualities that are important in all areas of work so the festival was a great opportunity for junior pupils to speak first-hand to former pupils who have followed their passion with careers in the creative industries.

Sarah Webb, Head of Junior School comments: “Across the Junior School our children were fascinated to hear about the career paths of the speakers. Our youngest children were fascinated that they may end up working in careers and jobs which have not been thought about. All our children valued the opportunities they have at the College to work as part of a team in their day to day learning and try out so many different skills at our co curricular clubs. They were also encouraged to take on challenges even if they thought they were unachievable.”

In the Senior School programme, S4 pupils had the opportunity to hear from Steve Parkinson, Class of ‘85 in the opening plenary who talked about the importance of creativity in the future world of work as new and emerging roles are established. Steve shared his thoughts on how pupils can prepare and adapt to be the best version of themselves and what they should be considering as they prepare to leave school and enter the world of work. Pupils were also able to attend individual breakout sessions to learn about creativity in different career settings and the skills required for these career paths, and the panel sessions enabled pupils to learn about the significance of the Gordonian network and how to access support from alumni throughout their lifetime.

Pupils past and present were delighted to see former Head of Senior School, Mike Elder return to school to join Clare Smith, Head of Senior School and Steve Parkinson as they opened the senior school programme, enlightening pupils with his wisdom and passion for creativity, and joining his daughter Bex Elder who was delivering a breakout session on the art of storytelling where they spoke about their recent joint venture in podcasting.

For the former pupils coming back to school, in many cases for the first time since leaving school, they were amazed with the investment in facilities such as the Craig Centre for Performing Arts and the emphasis on creative careers.

Sandy Buglass, Class of ‘04, is a freelance musician with over 15 years' experience in performing, composing, teaching, and researching music. He comments: “It has been an amazing experience coming back to school and having the opportunity to speak to both Junior and Senior pupils about working in the Creative Industry. The main thing that has really resonated with me is the investment that has gone into the Arts at Robert Gordon’s College with the fantastic new music resources and theatre facilities that are now available to pupils.” 

Sandy has worked with high-end artists such as Pet Shop Boys, Cher, Kiesza, and Pixie Lott, as well as the TV show America's Got Talent. He has composed music for companies such as Subway, LinkedIn, and Nescafé, and teaches university students at undergraduate and Master’s level. 

Olivia Attwooll-Keith, Class of ‘15, recently graduated from the University of Glasgow with a joint degree in English Literature and Music. She is currently working in Glasgow as a singing teacher having set up her own business Oak Vocals and has recently co-founded Call to Stage Theatre Company with the goal of creating new performance opportunities for aspiring musical theatre performers. She comments: “I felt very honoured to be a part of the Creative Minds Festival and so grateful to have been a part of the experience. It was a very special and monumental day which no doubt will only grow bigger over the coming years.”

Krystal (B) current S4 pupil commented: "The Creative Minds Festival has made me realise that creativity is fluid and is applied, not just in the Arts, but in all industries. Hearing from former pupils about their own creative journey's since leaving Gordon's was really interesting and inspiring. I really enjoyed learning about the different ways in which you can apply creativity which is important and relevant to many aspects of life."

Clare Smith, Head of Senior School summarised: “The Creative Minds Festival provided an opportunity for S4 pupils to take time out and hear from a group of inspiring and varied former pupils. Themes and messages on the day included keeping an open mind about the future, making the most of all opportunities and that creative thinking is required in all types of careers. We are very grateful to all who participated to ensure the inaugural RGC Creative Minds Festival was such a resounding success.”

“The festival has been supported by the Robert Gordon’s College Parents’ Association who provided assistance with the financial costs which enabled the festival to be delivered professionally with additional breakout sessions operating in the One Tech Hub building at the entrance to the quadrangle.”