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The Bigger Picture

07.07.21

Bringing together bright young minds from across the world to study and live together, Aiglon College’s approach to education captures what it means to learn and grow in its truest and fullest sense. Tania Jacobs gleans some valuable life lessons

When John Corlette founded Aiglon in 1949, he set into motion an evolving educational community that’s so much more than simply a school. Drawing from foundational principles as a basis of approach, at Aiglon there’s the understanding that through the balanced development of mind, body, and spirit their community can set out together upon a journey that has the power to engage and enrich.

Aiglon students are free to explore their academic interests and personal passions, all the while being pushed and challenged by a diverse community, physical activity and a global culture that is designed to fit alongside and inform their studies.

How does the school balance academic rigour with creative and sporting pursuits?

Aiglon can be really proud of its exam results and excellent university placements, both of which are transitory, not transformational satisfactions. The measure of a successful education is not always the certificate or the destination that you move onto after school.

The school is more interested in producing young people who will grow to be ‘great’ with strong values and a sense of purpose, a strong intercultural understanding and a strong desire to convert their lives into meaningful and positive changes in the lives of others and their environment.

As such, mountains have long-represented to humanity a call to push higher and harder than we would have otherwise imagined possible; as such it’s important to embrace this sense of challenge across all areas of school life. The school’s vision in educating young people is wider than simply academic rigour. All students are expected to participate in creative work, sporting endeavours and trips into the mountains. This well-rounded approach doesn’t detract from academic performance.

How does the College innovate, whilst retaining its traditional principles?

The world is not a static place. We have to retain a restlessness in our quest to see whether the education we provide is well-adapted to the world in which we live. Rather than a constraint of innovation, Aiglon’s longstanding Guiding Principles, are an invitation to continuously and regularly seek and be challenged in terms of what’s next in the world around us.

Tell us about the school’s not-for-profit culture?

Our position as a not-for-profit school is both one of both privilege and responsibility. Maintaining this status allows us to educate and nurture with our full focus on student success. We are dedicated to impressing upon Aiglonians the importance of contributing to the community both locally and internationally. As a result, we craft opportunities for our students which guide them toward taking their place as true global citizens, through volunteer work and connecting with an array of communities both local and abroad.

What are the benefits for boarding pupils?

Aiglon is 90% boarding, and our day student population lives close by in the village. The Aiglon programme is much more than just class time and we feel that this immersive experience is central to what it means to be a boarder. The educational experience doesn’t end each afternoon. Whether it’s in their boarding house or out on a weekend expedition, students are building relationships with each other and with staff, that’s much more family-focused than it is simply academic.

With over 60 different nationalities represented at the school, breaking down cultural barriers by a shared life and experiences have always been central to the Aiglon ethos. You may have a roommate from a very different culture than your or own; these experiences can’t be easily replicated in another environment. The ability to form a global community like Aiglon is singularly unique thanks to the emphasis we place on what it means to be a border.

How does the College prepare its pupils for the future?

Our offering of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a good reflection of Aiglon’s values. The IB is a challenging programme and believes, like we do, that education must be academically rigorous, but also something larger —and it’s through this lens that we really prepare our students for the future. Our College & Careers Department excels at guiding students from an early age toward their best future options. While this is sometimes at a top university, we also regularly counsel students that we want them to find the best fit —an ivy league or a gap year can both be acceptable and encouraged options.

We believe that a holistic, yet rigorous programme, remains the best preparation for the future. Whether the business world or politics, we regularly hear back from our alumni community that their experiences on the mountain (specifically expeditions) uniquely shaped their future and who they are.

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