Aiglon College

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Aiglon College
Chesières-Villars, Vaud, Switzerland
Coordinates 46°18′N 7°03′E / 46.3°N 7.05°E / 46.3; 7.05Coordinates: 46°18′N 7°03′E / 46.3°N 7.05°E / 46.3; 7.05
Type Independent School, day and boarding
Motto "God is my strength"
Religious affiliation(s) Anglican
Established 1949
Founder John C. Corlette
Chairman of Governors Mark Elliot
Head Master Richard McDonald
Gender Co-educational
Age 9 to 18
Enrollment 380
Houses 8 Boarding houses
Colour(s) Mauve and white, blue and white
Publication Aiglon Association News
Former pupils Aiglonians/Aiglonites

Aiglon College is a private English-style boarding school in Switzerland, registered as a not-for-profit charitable institution, with an international student intake. The school gathers funds from full fee-paying students, from donations and via registered charitable trusts in different countries. Parents wishing to send a child to Aiglon, but who have insufficient funds to do so, can apply for their child to be granted a scholarship at Aiglon, funded through these trusts.


As a charitable trust, the school does not cater to any particular group, but offers scholarships and financial support to children who are deemed to be deserving in some way (academically or otherwise), and also regularly enrolls "legacies" - that is, children of alumni.[citation needed] There is a large international Aiglon alumni network, with reunions held in cities around the world including London, Boston, New York, Sydney and Chicago.

Aiglon College is located at an elevation of 1,300 metres (4,300 feet) above sea level, in the alpine village of Chesières-Villars, near the ski resort of Villars-sur-Ollon, in the canton of Vaud. The closest larger town is Aigle, and the nearest major cities are Montreux and Lausanne.

Foundation and founding principles

The school was founded in 1949 by John C. Corlette, who was a former pupil and teacher at Gordonstoun, a private school in Scotland. It has had links with the Round Square schools organisation for most of its history.[1]

Originally a boy's-only school run along Gordonstoun lines, the school went co-educational in 1968. Though the language of instruction is English, French is taught and encouraged with "French days", because the school is in a French-speaking part of Switzerland.

For "outward bound" type activities, students are required to:

  • go on at least two overnight hiking expeditions in the autumn term (in small parties);
  • ski at least twice a week during the winter term;
  • go on ski touring expeditions.
  • take part in activities including mountain biking, canoeing, rock climbing and Via Ferrata (or "iron road"), during the autumn and summer terms.

The The Good Schools Guide International called the school "strong educationally, strong emotionally, tough physically."[2]

Facilities and services

  • Art
  • Drama
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Languages (including French, German, Spanish and other languages offered on an individual basis)
  • Information Technology
  • Music
  • Physical Education (PE)
  • Science (including Biology, Physics, Chemistry)
  • Geography
  • History
  • Economics and Business Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Media Studies
  • Religious Studies
  • English as a Second Language
  • Learning Support

Changes to Aiglon

  • The ranking system has been abandoned. Previously there was a ranking system - which was similar to Gordonstoun and which encouraged the development of personal responsibility of the children as members of the closed community within which they lived.
  • Central dining has led to the separation of staff and students during mealtimes. This replaces the previous custom where lunch and dinner were laid out in each house on tables of eight to ten students with a staff member at the head to lead and encourage conversation at table.
  • Physical punishment (e.g., "beating" or caning) of the children - previously common practice in many English boarding schools - has always been forbidden at Aiglon.

Weekdays start with a morning meditation, and appreciation of nature is engendered with weekend expeditions on foot, ski or bicycle (the latter in the summer term only).

Notable alumni


In spite of the high reputation enjoyed by Aiglon College, there have been a number of scandals associated with the school.

On 17 March 2000, three pupils between 14 and 16 were drugged with trichloroethylene and sexually assaulted in one of the school's girls dormitory. The attacker, not related to Aiglon, was arrested seven years later in Olten. Also in 2000, the homosexual fantasies of Aiglon's chemistry teacher were published in the internet, and he was forced to resign. [3] [4]

Richard McDonald, Aiglon's headmaster in 1994-2000 and since 2009 to date, has spent 261 days in a Swiss prison accused by his wife of having sex with their son, aged 4. In 2002, McDonald was acquitted and joined Beau Soleil, another private school in Villars. In July 2009, he returned as headmaster of Aiglon College. [5] [6]

The school claims that the student body comes from "diverse religions, languages and cultures" (Aiglon College website, However, the great majority of pupils come from affluent families. The school encourages scholarship applications but the number of granted scholarships has been relatively low, resulting on a very homogenous group of pupils in a well-to-do social context. This strategy is reinforced by the granting of scholarships to children of former pupils.

Even if punishment is not allowed in Aiglon, there is testimony that some physical suffering has been experienced by boarders. According to a former pupil, the writer Allen Kurzweil, "early mornings were given over to fresh-air calisthenics, cold showers, and meditation." Kurzweil adds that "minor delinquencies … resulted in fines deducted from the pocket money doled out each Wednesday afternoon. More flamboyant insubordination … would lead to 'laps', punishment runs to and from a stone bridge up the road." A fellow former student cited by Kurzweil said that Aiglon "was like the military. Like a concentration camp. 'Do this! Do that! Make your bed! Tip your chair? Fifty centimes!' … The duty prefects who forced him to submit to an ice-cold 'punishment shower' until his 'skin turned red', or gave him laps 'for swearing', even though he had just been stung by hornets." [7]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mail Online, "Caroline suspect link to attack at Swiss school", by GORDON RAYNER and PETER ALLEN, Daily Mail
  4. ^ The Telegraph, "How a Swiss college lost ultimate seal of approval" By Robert Hardman and John Clare, 24 Jun 2000
  5. ^, "Aiglon pedophile’s case, 11 yrs later, could see him behind bars" 28 June 2011 by Ellen Wallace
  6. ^ 24heures, «Accusé à tort d’inceste, j’ai tout perdu et me suis relevé», Par Laurent Grabet le 06.11.2010)
  7. ^ "Whipping Boy: A writer spends forty years looking for his bully. Why?", by Allen Kurzweil in The New Yorker, 17 November 2014, pp. 66-75

External links