Chavagnes International College serves as a platform where young men find opportunities to excel in their areas of interest, be it as sportsmen, artists, scientists or literary men. They are groomed to become future leaders, equipped with the tools that would help them to succeed in university life and beyond.
The college is located in the Vendée, in the beautiful Pays de la Loire region of the west of France. This all-boys’ Catholic boarding college is where students learn how to live independently, manage their time and form lifelong friendships with schoolmates.
It’s more than a place where students thrive academically. Ask alumnus Josh Osborne and he’ll tell you just that. “I have grown spiritually and intellectually in the family that is Chavagnes,” says the Head Boy of 2019-202. “Being surrounded by different cultures and nationalities, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Kathy Sinnott, former Member of the European Parliament and parent of two former Chavagnes pupils, concurs. “Chavagnes is where the academic, sporting, cultural, spiritual and moral life are all lived to the full; where healthy friendships are developed; where the character and originality of every child is cherished and respected,” she says.
Alumnus Captain Dominic O’Leary of the Royal Irish Regiment attributes his deep love of culture, thirst for adventure and justice, and talent for leadership and community building to his time at the college. “I’d say I first truly discovered and developed them at Chavagnes, thanks to Mr. McDermott, Dr. Boyles and my other teachers, to whom I remain profoundly grateful,” he says.
A pathway to leading universities
Chavagnes’ students have achieved great success in Cambridge Assessments, GCSEs and A Levels. Many continue to study at top universities — such as Oxford, Cambridge and leading French, Spanish and American universities — before taking on leadership positions in business, law, journalism, diplomacy or public service. How is this achieved? Through the Colleges’ expertise in coaching, extra tutoring and interview practice.
What’s more impressive is that this is the only college in the world where pupils can obtain A Levels and the French Baccalaureate. Students consistently produce stellar GCSE and A Level results. A total of 70% of GCSE students score A* or A, while 100% obtain a grade six or above; 50% of A Levels score an A* or A, while 86% of pupils got at least one A* or A.
Last year, two candidates obtained the A Levels as well as the French Baccalaureate, with one “Mention Bien” or high honours.
Here, education up to age 16 is general, with specialisations between 16 and 18. This ensures students enjoy a well-rounded education. The College’s academic programme up to UK Year 11 includes physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, history, Spanish, German, English language and literature and religious education for GCSE. Latin and music are also available as non-examination subjects, as well as Arabic for native speakers.
In Years 12 and 13, Advanced Level courses leading to UK A Level qualifications are offered. These are available in the same academic subjects (including music and Latin) as well as economics and politics. Students who want to take it up a notch are welcomed to combine A Levels with the French Baccalaureate or with a US high school diploma.
Chavagnes can also offer students an online option if they’re interested in an unusual subject that isn’t taught. The College has seen students achieve A* grades in Russian through this method.
Where students blossom in and out of the classroom
Polarisation doesn’t exist in Chavagnes’s dictionary. A student who secured a place to read mathematics at Cambridge at 15 — who had been fast-tracked in the subject when the College noticed he was good at it — is the same boy who was also a key actor in Shakespearean plays and studied Latin at a high level. Another alum who recently went on to study French and Italian at Oxford was also an avid footballer and trumpeter.
Underpinning these achievements are Chavagnes’ goal of forming future community leaders. The boys are provided with a positive experience of community life; have opportunities to lead within the context of school; while older boys can benefit from leadership training.
Students are also given the platform to develop expertise in their chosen fields, are encouraged to develop new passions, inspire confidence in others by an attitude of cheerful service and good example, and to develop a healthy balance between the intellectual, the physical, the spiritual and the cultural.
Ultimately, Chavagnes is a home away from home. Alumnus David Mobberley notes, “The experience of going away to another country as a young boy was daunting at first, but I quickly settled in and by the end of the summer holidays after my first year, I couldn’t wait to go back,” he shares.