Tag Archives: Catholic boarding schools for boys

Chavagnes opens ‘Double Diploma’ class : French Bac and A-levels!


Chavagnes International College Students

Chavagnes International College in France is the first school in the world to offer a class with the option of taking British A-levels and the French baccalauréate simultaneously. Other schools have offered hybrid qualifications with double validation between two education systems (French/Spanish; French/German most notably), but Chavagnes has this year a class of 7 boys, 4 of whom will be sitting the French Baccalauréat ES and a selection of British A-levels simultaneously.  The school’s mulitlingual environment, with native teachers of English, French, German and Spanish, makes languages a must for all students.

Most classes are taught in English, but special classes in the medium of French are offered to Bac candidates in Philosophy, French, Economics and History.

This coming June, the top class (Year 13/ Terminale), with just two students, includes one Frenchman who will sit the Bac, 3 A-levels and 1 AS-level; plus a Maltese student who will have taken 7 subjects at AS, moving on to 4 at A-level.

For more information, visit www.chavagnes.org

St Edmund’s College is “good”

St Edmund’s College, Ware, Hertfordshire, has been hailed as “good” in its recent OFSTED report.  This is the equivalent of a “B+” from the official state inspection service whose top grade is “OUTSTANDING”.  Reading between the lines, it seems that there was nothing wrong with the education on offer or the pastoral care. Inspectors were just a little snooty about the lack of modernised facilities in some parts of the historic school. More details in the local paper.

Chavagnes annnounces new development plan

Chavagnes International College, France, a British international curriculum Catholic boarding school for boys, has announced a new development plan for the next five years.

The new initiative, combining internal restructuring of personnel and management with a programme of building works, will be detailed at a meeting for current parents and parents of potential future pupils at the College’s Open Day on Saturday 18th June. For more details visit the Chavagnes website at www.chavagnes.org

Chavagnes will also have a new chaplain from September. Father Bede Rowe, a priest of the Diocese of Clifton, will be taking up the appointment at the end of the forthcoming summer holidays.

Living with the martyrs in a Catholic school

St. Edmund’s College, a small Catholic boarding school in Ware, England, is full of history. Not the usual type of history at the usual high school. St. Edmund’s actually traces its history back to 1586 and the founding of the English College at Douay, France. Cardinal William Allen started the college in order to educate young Catholics not allowed to exercise their religion under the harsh laws of Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 to 1603 …

for more on this , see: http://catholicexchange.com/2010/11/26/28810/

Vocations in Catholic education

At Chavagnes International College in France, Principal Ferdi McDermott is  sometimes very happy when he loses his best teachers. “On one condition,” he says. “I don’t mind at all, if they are answering God’s call to the priesthood or religious life: it’s an honour for the College.”

In the last few years, McDermott has seen three former teachers and one former pupil go into formation for the priesthood. The former pupil, Brother Stephen Morrison, is now a Norbertine Friar and having finished his noviciate will be making his first profession shortly.

McDermott continues: “We are looking forward to welcoming Brother Stephen back in September for a visit and hope that his example will inspire other boys at the College to consider the possibility that God might be calling them to serve him in religious life.”

Sport, Drama and fishing: the key to better exam results

Schools that offer more activities outside the classroom get better GCSE exam results from their pupils, the Independent Schools Council has recently claimed.

In a recently published report the ISC has shown that there is a direct correlation between exam success and the number of opportunities for children to excel in non-academic activities such as sport, music and drama.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jun/03/extracurricular-activities-boost-gcses

The Independent, picking up the same story, stresses the evidence that sport is the key to success for boys, quoting the Master in charge of Harrow’s 1st XI cricket team. It seems that even if they miss classes due to a full diary of fixtures, the feel-good factor of sporting success boosts them also in their academic work so that they outperform their classmates.

One interesting point struck me, especially as we have recently resurrected our whole-school table tennis league. According to the Independent article, table tennis is one of the most IQ-enhancing ball sports. It improves hand-to-eye co-ordination, using both upper and lower body and ensuring players engage different areas of the brain. Juggling is also excellent as it uses both sides of the brain.

Here again, researchers picked up key differences between boys and girls. as one Headmaster put it:  “Boys really want a hinterland to their studies. They don’t want to work in a vacuum and need a sense of life beyond the classroom to make the classroom more palatable.”

“Girls,” according to Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School for boys in Wimbledon, “tend to weather tedium better than boys. If their lessons are boring, girls will compensate for that, whereas with boys it explodes in your face a bit.”

At our school (www.chavagnes.org) , we find that daily sport (and also an attempt to provide some variety in it, so that different boys find what they are good at) makes a big difference to morale.

Catholic boarding school for boys on Vatican Radio

Chavagnes International College’s Principal, with three pupils, interviewed by Vatican Radio …

If you cannot see the embedded clip above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5M7HVFKhaQ

Gifted and Talented boys: benefits of an international environment

Gifted and talented boys need intellectual stimulus and emotional security, both areas in which small international study environments such as Chavagnes International College are particularly strong.

Over the last few years Chavagnes has welcomed a number of gifted and talented pupils from the UK, France and Spain and Principal Ferdi McDermott considers that his school provides an ideal environment for boys dealing with issues relating to intellectual precocity.

Often a child discovers that coupled with a high IQ comes a lack of emotional and social self-confidence, particularly with the onset of adolescence. In a small and friendly environment (Chavagnes has class sizes of 5-10, with a pupil:teacher ratio of 3:1) pupils, says McDermott,  are able to be “big fish in a small sea.”  There is also strong spiritual support from the school’s resident priest and brother.

A ‘year out’ of the French or Spanish education system has provided French and Spanish boys with fluency in English and/or French, plus a chance to develop sporting, theatrical and musical talents in a non-threatening environment. Pupils from the UK have also benefitted from the rich culture of modern languages at the College, with stays at the homes of French and Spanish friends and the challenge of a some classes taught through French.

The College operates a successful ‘extra Maths’ programme with participation in the UK Maths Challenge and the International ‘Mathletics’ scheme, making Mathematics an exciting and competitive subject, which is just the way it should be for boys, says McDermott.

Parents of Gifted and Talented boys are warmly invited to get in touch with Mr McDermott to discuss possibilities for their sons.

More details at www.chavagnes.org (Email office@chavagnes.org)

English boys school in France beats the credit crunch

Even if UK parents are abandoning the private sector in droves, some Catholic private schools are bucking the trend. One – a British Catholic boys boarding school in France, with fees at half the UK average, has noted a sharp increase in enquiries …

Top private schools have been pricing themselves out of their traditional market for years, caught up in an annual prospectus war, where the schools with the most luxurious facilities generally win hands down.

This has triggered increasing fees, a search for new markets (Korea, Hong Kong and other far-off places), emergency changes of policy (notably the near total abandonment of single sex schooling for boys) …

But one school, a traditional Catholic boarding school for boys set up in France 7 years ago by a group of UK teachers, is sticking to its guns, and feels that the current financial storms might produce a haul of new pupils from disenfranchised middle class families, keen to stay with private education but incapable of keeping up with fees.

Chavagnes International College, near Nantes, has its own full-time chaplain and ten staff, but provides an exclusive education for just 21 boys, aged 11 to 18. They are supported by their local bishop and the local government, but need to run on a very tight budget. All the traditional British public school trimmings are in place: plenty of choral singing and sport, public speaking, theatre, a tiny house system, traditional school uniform, Masters in gowns. But, apart from a small computer suite, Principal Ferdi McDermott rules out ‘the newfangled’; not just because he can’t afford it, but because ‘it gets in the way.’

The school has attracted several members of the French aristocracy who are all great anglophiles, together with some Spaniards, yet it manages to keep its British atmopshere intact. Bilingualism and even trilingualism follow quickly in such an environent, which make modern languages a particular strength for this eccentric but successful school.

Chavagnes follows UK exams, with GCSEs and A-levels, and has already got its pupils into Oxford and a number of other UK, French and US universities. Fees are 15,000 euros per year, with bursaries and scholarships available in some cases.

Private schools in the UK are facing an uncertain future. McDermott thinks we are going to see UK private schools fill up with foreign pupils from far-away places, because of the weak pound, while (bizarrely) an increasing number of UK parents send the children abroad to ‘no frills’ traditional schools like his own.

Source: www.prbuzz.com

More for less: Catholic boarding education at a price families can afford

The great independent Catholic schools of England have increasingly been caught up in the same ‘prospectus war’ as the rest of the private sector. Twenty years ago, there were dozens of Catholic boarding schools for boys in the UK. Now only one remains, in Reading, with the nearest competition on the continent at Chavagnes International College.

As boys’ schools become coeducational, effectively thereby declaring war on the surviving girls’ schools, the whole sector is becoming necessarily much more geared to the market. In itself, this is no bad thing; but it does depend on what one is selling.

In education, it is surely a pity when children choose their schools by virtue of which prospectus boasts the most luxurious accommodation and 5-star facilities. The knock-on effect this has on school fees is having a dramatic impact on the intake of these schools. Traditional supprters of private education now find themselves priced out of the market.

Most of the old boarding schools are now dependent on overseas students and those whose fees are paid by the parents’ employers. There is less and less of a sense in which these schools are serving a particular community.

In the case of the Catholic schools, this is a great shame. It has meant that the numbers of non-Catholics in these schools increases from a purely market-driven motive. As this happens, so the Catholic ethos of many of these schools, more talked about than ever before in their prospectuses, in fact diminishes year by year.

It is a pity, because the independent sector resisted the secularisation of eduation for a long time. Catholic private schools were beacons in the defence of Christian faith (not just Christian values) throughout the 1980s, but now risk going down the same road of compromise as their maintaned sector counterparts.

The current difficult financial climate is already beginning to hit many private schools as parents fall behind with fees and begin to consider other alternatives. What is the solution? For parents looking for day schools, on the grammar school model, Chris Woodhead’s Cognita schools are one honest way out of the ridiculous situation of spiralling fees.

For those looking for a solid Catholic education, inspired by the public school and grammar school tradition, and with boarding too, Chavagnes International College, in western France, could be the answer.  Just as Catholics did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the political climate in England made Catholic education impossible, perhaps the next few years will see a minor Ryanair exodus to Nantes in the Catholic community as parents search for a way to provide a private education for their children without endangering their family’s financial stability.

School fees at leading private boarding schools in the UK are in the 20-25,000 pounds price range.  Chavagnes fees start at 14,000 Euros; about 13,000 pounds. Bursaries and scholarships are available too, meaning that parents can often look at a saving of 50%, even taking into account transport costs.

With a convenient daily service from Stansed to Nantes, Chavagnes is nearer to home for families from the south – in terms of time – than one or two of two of its competitors north of the Watford gap.

For more information, visit www.chavagnes.org