At UWCSEA, our concept-based curriculum is designed to develop the knowledge, skills and understandings that will challenge our students to take responsibility for shaping a better world. This is achieved through a unique education, encompassing all five elements of our holistic learning programme—academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education and service.
Our holistic programme provides age-appropriate challenges which encourage our students to:
- learn to think independently, laterally and critically about the world
- form an understanding of sustainable development
- develop cultural awareness
- recognise complexity and the interconnectedness of many global issues
- lead and act with integrity in a globalised, rapidly changing world
Learning is organised around the development of transferable ideas (concepts), which may be disciplinary or interdisciplinary. Knowledge and skill acquisition is vital, but not the end goal in a concept-based learning environment. Instead, by using their knowledge and skill learning, students construct and express conceptual understandings, which transfer to new contexts. This allows our students to apply critical thought in any situation, now or in the future.
This curriculum is shared across our campuses, and our professional development programme ensures teachers are supported in developing their classroom practice in concept based teaching.
We have a written curriculum in four of the five elements of our learning programme: Academics, Outdoor Education, Personal and Social Education, and Service.
Our model of curriculum development reflects a three-stage design process called ‘backward design.’ At UWCSEA it means that we started with what we understood students should know at the end of their schooling, and worked back from there. For each of the elements, and each of the disciplines within that element, our senior educators worked from the desired attainment at the end of Grade 12 backwards to kindergarten.
This involved identifying key concepts (our Standards), which were sometimes broken into Strands and sub-strands so as to better manage the learning pathways through complex disciplines. Each Standard then has age-appropriate Conceptual Understandings which are used by teachers to develop units of learning. By connecting each lesson to a larger understanding of a key concept within a discipline, our teachers create opportunities for students to demonstrate evidence of understanding (Benchmarks) in an age-appropriate way.
In the High School, the Standards, Conceptual Understandings and Benchmarks specifically take into account the requirements of the external examining bodies that set the (I)GCSE and IBDP examinations.