The recent documentary

A few comments would seem to be in order regarding the recent documentary about Chavagnes, shown on UK television.

The documentary seems to have concentrated on what makes Chavagnes different from other schools, rather than what makes it similar to them. In fact, most of the time boys at Chavagnes are engaged in exactly the same kind of academic work, sports and cultural activities as boys at other boarding schools.

Here are some examples:


There is a high level of literary culture in the College which was not at all represented in the documentary, although it was extensively filmed.

This academic year we have organized three plays at the school: Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, a Medieval Passion Play sequence and a dramatization of Oliver Twist.

Boys participate in regular debating and learn poetry off-by-heart for public recitation in inter-house competitions.

Boys from Chavagnes have won prizes in national writing competitions and had their work and letters published in international cultural journals.

There is a regular literary club that meets for readings and discussions, hosted by Mr and Mrs Asch.

Many boys have regular instrumental lessons.


The College has a modern computer suite (10 machines) with internet access. This is available to pupils under supervision.


Boys at Chavagnes participate regularly in rowing, swimming, football, cricket, cross country running and other mainstream sports. Four players from the College recently participated in a six-a-side competition for Cricket and won a trophy on behalf the Vendee Cricket Club. They have also participated in other winning matches for the Club. This coming weekend 11 players from the College play (for the third year running) a match against Les Moulins Cricket Club.

At a recent county 10-km event, three boys from the College gained 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at under 18 level. At the 2-km distance the boys also collected several prizes in the younger age-groups.

About ten boys undergo weekly riding lessons with an experienced teacher and former cavalry colonel.

These various activities were filmed but not included in the documentary.


There are weekly cookery classes at the College, hosted by our French chef, Fabrice.

This activity was filmed but not included in the documentary.


Several boys have become fluent in 4 modern languages at Chavagnes as well as gaining a good grasp of Latin. Many boys sit language GCSEs early.

This aspect of life at Chavagnes was filmed but not included in the documentary.


The College has a science laboratory and study sciences for GCSE and A-level. Some boys take all three sciences at GCSE level.

This aspect of life at Chavagnes was filmed but not included in the documentary.


Each year some boys take Mathematics GCSE one or two years’ early. This year, the younger boys (in Year 7) took the Year 8 UK Maths challenge. Among Year 7 boys, there were 3 silver medals and a bronze medal.

Some other misconceptions:

Unfortunately a misconception has arisen that we have a problem with teacher qualifications. Most staff teaching at Chavagnes have undergone formal teacher training. Those who have not, are all graduates, mostly with Masters or Doctorate level degrees.

Morris dancing and rabbit-killing, it is suggested, are a regular part of the curriculum. The dance is something that happens a few times per year, mainly for the youngsters. It is great fun.

The rabbits have only featured in our College life on one single occasion in five years (about a year ago), and that was largely for the benefit of the cameras; given the importance it was given in the documentary and the problems around it, it is perhaps regrettable that it happened at all. In any case, it is not representative of regular activities at Chavagnes.

Fishing, an activity that has featured quite often over the years at Chavagnes, was filmed, but not included in the documentary.

We are grateful for the opportunity to appear on the television, but unfortunately it would appear that there has been a lack of balance in the presentation, and certainly in people’s perceptions, based on the presentation which they saw on the screen.

It is particularly regrettable that in drawing attention mainly to the College’s perceived eccentricities, the coverage failed to represent the varied cultural and academic formation on offer at Chavagnes.

It is true that as a young institution, we have had our ups and downs. But we still have pupils and staff who have been here since our first academic year (2002-2003), and others who have joined us since then and continue to enjoy living and working here.

We commend all our efforts to the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Jesus, confident in her loving protection.

For a friendlier, more balanced take on Chavagnes (though still not immune from a little hype) - from the same journalists as the recent documentary, please visit ...


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