The American Philosopher, John Dewey once mentioned, “Education is a process of living and not meant to be the preparation of future living”. This statement reflects upon ‘what education must be’. Rather than focusing on just preparing students for the future, instead, they must be taught that education is a process of living. This realization will ensure that acquiring knowledge begins right after their birth. Children at first gain knowledge unconsciously through touch and then gradually acquire knowledge through exploring and experiencing. This makes us realize that education has two layers which are psychological at the base and sociological at the core.
This is where schools help children in bringing out their true potential and teach them life skills that are foundational to life-long learning and holistic education. With a focus on holistic education, educational institutions today prepare children for their future and help them tackle any of life’s uncertainties. Understanding how holistic education transforms students, we at The Knowledge Review, on our quest to find an educational institution offering holistic education landed ourselves at Chavagnes International College.
A Message from the Founders
Since its inception, the school’s mission has been to offer a balanced education while recognizing each student’s individual strengths and abilities. That being said, the school was found in 2002 in Chavagnes-en-Paillers, France, with an aim to offer a truly Catholic education; at the invitation of the Bishop of Luçon, a small group of educators, under the leadership of Ferdi McDermott undertook this task. Today, with over 15 nationalities represented, the school has become a diverse family. Below mentioned are the thoughts of the founders and what they envisioned the school to be
At Chavagnes we are committed to delivering a balanced education to our students, recognizing individual strengths and abilities. We promote a model of education where the Catholic Faith permeates and informs our distinctive international program, one which accommodates both the British and French National Curricula. Beyond the classroom, we will help our pupils to develop existing interests and to find new ones that will stay with them for life. A testament to this approach is that our pupils go on to study at the very best universities in the world. In essence, we are seeking to educate the next generation of Catholic leaders. We ensure that each boy has the tools to excel in the world beyond Chavagnes and to respond to his individual vocation.
Creating Progressive Thinkers
Being a non-selective institution, Chavagnes International College benefits greatly from the fact that it teaches boys who have a range of academic abilities. It is within this context, of delivering a rounded education, that the institution places a significant emphasis on continual academic progress. At the core of its teaching and learning is the British National Curriculum. Whilst all of the boys sit the GCSE and A-Level examinations, it teaches the Brevet and Bac program for French pupils. It is also possible for foreign students to have their British examinations validated by their local Ministry of Education. Both inside and outside of formal classes, each boy is encouraged and supported to achieve the best that he can. The day to day school environment fosters individuality, curiosity, teamwork, and enjoyment.
Life at Chavagnes International
At Chavagnes, great importance is placed on overall pastoral care that it gives to the boys during their time. The institute believes that for many boys, their life in school is the first time that they have been away from home. Hence, it does not take responsibility for ensuring the comfortable stay of the boys very lightly. The school’s continuous endeavor is to ensure that each boy is welcomed and becomes an active part of the school and feels ‘at home’ as quickly as possible. It believes that by keeping the boys occupied they will be motivated to study, focused on enjoying their time in College and will quickly make lasting friendships. The House system, through which each boy is given a formal position within the wider school community, encourages each individual to grow and develop. Each of the school’s four Houses Rochejaquelein, Cathelineau, Suzannet, and Charette – is run by a House Master who, working alongside senior boys appointed House Captain and Vice-Captain, also acts as the main provider of pastoral support, organizes weekly activities and is an immediate point of reference for all boys.
“The House system is integral to this and forms the basis of intra-mural competitive debating, sport and other activities. Every boy is encouraged to take an active role in College life, and we look to develop leadership skills, the ability to be both self-reliant and effective team players as well as nurturing confidence as public speaking. These ‘softer skills’ help each boy to grow in confidence and fulfills our mission to ‘educate the next generation of Catholic leaders,” says one of the teachers.
The Academic Purview of the School
The academic programme at Chavagnes International College has been designed keeping in mind the holistic development of every student. Students here are at the center of the learning process and hence they are nurtured to be critical thinkers, self-learners and lifelong learners. The school is broadly divided into two sections:
- Junior School
- Senior School
There are several entry points for pupils within the Junior School, the majority of boys, however, join in Year 7 (age 10/11) at the most junior level for admission. The Junior School curriculum is designed to offer a board base, introducing pupils to academic and cultural experiences. It stimulates their intellectual and personal curiosity. All pupils study English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, Latin, Classics, Religious Studies, French, Spanish, English, Art, Music, Drama, Film Making, Rugby, Taekwondo, Rowing, Football, and Swimming. The school also offers provisions for students to learn English as an Additional Language for all non-native English speakers.
Coming to Senior School, students here prepare for GCSE and A-Level examinations, whilst some French boys choose to sit the Brevet and BAC. The masters and senior tutors monitor progress carefully and ensure that the boys make the most of the academic opportunities open to them. At the senior end of the school, additional responsibilities are placed on each student – to be an example of a Chavagnes education. Four boys are chosen as House Captains, and several others take on the role of prefects to monitor everyday life, inside and outside of the classroom. This allows them to develop leadership and communication skills.
Also, the school’s strong focus on personalized education and faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church, has helped develop a learning environment that meets the needs of each boy.
Developing a Sense of Community
As mentioned above, the school’s sole purpose is not just to educate students with jus academic knowledge but develop them a sense of responsibility towards the nation and also the world. To achieve the same the school also organizes various extracurricular activities. One of those initiatives is ‘The Scouts of Chavagnes’.
The Scouts of Chavagnes are an active, happy and engaging group within the wider school community. Boys from Year 7 to Year 10 are encouraged to join as ‘associate members’ of the troop, and those who are more serious about scouting have the opportunity to work towards taking the Scout Promise. A Chavagnes Scout is, like his fellows the world over, a brother to all other Scouts. He is also a gentleman, an explorer, a sportsman, an inventor, a cook and many other things besides. The most distinguishing characteristic of a Chavagnes Scout is that he is a Christian who lives the Gospel of Jesus Christ, loving and respecting God’s creation and his fellow man. Fidelity to these eternal truths, coupled with an ever-ready spirit of adaptability and ingenuity are the marks of a Scout.
Apart from this, sport is also an integral part of daily life at Chavagnes. The discipline, formation, and respect taught through timetabled sport enhance both the physical and mental development of students. Furthermore, as students engage in team games they learn to encourage team spirit, enabling the boys to experience healthy physical exertion. Weekly rugby, football, basketball and tennis matches as well as cross-country, rowing, taekwondo, fencing, and swimming offer a necessary counterbalance to spiritual, cultural and academic activities.
The students graduating from the school choose varied careers such as lawyers, dentists, teachers, journalists, architects, priests or military personnel and so choose to serve the community, thereby upholding the values of their school. Once they leave Chavagnes, the students strive to make a difference in the world.