It’s official : Chavagnes International College is now the last remaining UK Catholic boarding school for boys left standing, and (like the English Catholic schools founded on the continent at the time of the Reformation) it is not even in the UK … Although we are just across the channel in France, Chavagnes is a UK-curriculum school which follows British GCSEs and A-levels as well as providing some tutoring for French state exams. Back in the UK, schools such as Downside, Ampleforth, Stonyhurst, Worth and St Edmund’s Colege, Ware have tended to followed the same path: increased non-Catholic enrolment, increasingly numbers of non-Catholic staff, vast expenditure on infrastructure and massive increase in fees (therefore pricing themselves out of their traditional market), then finally, the admission of girls …
The latest and last in the list is the Oratory School in Reading. The Oratory was the only remaining all-boys Catholic boarding school in Britain, and has recently announced that it will become co-educational from September 2020.
And yet worldwide boys boarding schools are enjoying a new vogue of popularity, and the leading non-Catholic boys’ independent schools in the UK (Eton, Harrow, Winchester and the like) have no intention of going co-educational. The movement for boys’ education has even led to the creation of the International Boys School Coalition, of which Chavagnes is a member. The IBSC comprises over 300 hundred member schools across 20 countries and five continents.
At the same time, scientists are now unlocking the secrets of brain development, showing definitively that boys and girls learn in a different way; at the same time we are witnessing a crisis in identity for boys and girls, where boys are no longer educated for manhood and girls are no longer educated for womanhood, with the result that they are left confused and unprepared for adult life. The UK is one of the worst countries for this kind of gender confusion, exacerbated by ideological currents in education and politics as well as by the negative influence of media celebrities and the breakdown of traditional family life.
This is not the time to be abandoning traditional modes of education; rather it is time for society to come back to its senses, and to provide families, at the very least as an option, an education for their sons which will prepare these boys for life as sensitive, strong and courageous men who are ready to lead and to serve. That is what the world needs. And that is the task we have set ourselves at Chavagnes.