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About Us

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About Us

UWCSEA is a united, welcoming community, spread across two campuses that embrace students and their families.
Learn more.

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Guiding Statements

Our Guiding Statements help to ensure that our students live the mission through their lives. Learn more.

Learning

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Learning

A UWCSEA education is values-based and holistic, developing young people who will build a more peaceful and sustainable world. Learn more.

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K–12 Curriculum

Our concept-based currriculum is designed to help students develop knowledge, skills and understanding through five elements of our learning programme. Learn more.

Community

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Students

The passion and energy of our diverse community of students is what makes our campuses come to life. Learn more.

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Scholars

Our scholars come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring unique perspectives and experience to our community. Learn more.

Admissions

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Welcome

A welcome from our Director of Admissions and introduction to our process. Learn more.

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How to Apply

Our admissions process helps us to identify students who will benefit most from our learning programme. Learn more.

Our Big Ideas

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Our Big Ideas

As a learning community, we engage with the world of ideas to connect concepts and put ideas into action. Learn more.

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Measuring Impact

The UWC mission requires us to measure our success througth the impact we have on students and the wider community. Learn more.

Support Us

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Support us

The UWCSEA culture of giving and service is central to our identity as a mission-aligned community. Learn more.

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Impact of Giving

The generosity of our community has had a significant impact on individuals and groups in Singapore, the region and globally. Learn more.

Professional Learning

Staff Learning

Professional Learning

At UWCSEA, our educational ambition to be a leader in international education compels us to continually reflect and adapt. To support this, our approach to professional learning has evolved to ensure our teachers and leaders can implement our major projects, for example, approaches to Concept-based Teaching and Learning across the five elements of our learning programme. 

Educational research and institutional experience tells us that the teacher is the most significant variable in students’ learning. Supporting Professional Learning is, therefore, a critical strategic tool in maintaining and enhancing excellence. 

It turns out that it doesn’t matter very much which school you go to, but it matters very much which classrooms in that school you are in. And it’s not class size that makes the difference, nor is it the presence or absence of setting by ability—these have only marginal effects. The only thing that really matters is the quality of the teacher. 

In the classrooms of the best teachers, students learn at twice the rate they do in the classrooms of average teachers—they learn in six months what students taught by the average teachers take a year to learn ... as Michael Barber says, the quality of a country’s education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. 

Dylan Wiliam from (2009). Assessment for learning: why, what and how? London: Institute of Education, University of London.

As a result, we attempt to put in place the best possible systems for the professional learning of our academic staff. As we consider how we can best support their professional learning, and success in moving towards fulfilling the College's Strategy and ambition, we also recognise the need to understand the context. This is perhaps best explained by the McKinsey report, How the world’s most improved school systems keep getting better (Mourshed, Chijioke, Barber, McKinsey Education 2010).

This report identifies which strategies are most effective at different stages of school improvement. As can be seen in the ‘good-to-great’, and ‘great-to-excellent’ categories, the strategies that we should be pursuing have a heavy emphasis on building capacity and increasing professional responsibility. This is in contrast to the heavier emphasis on external accountability in the 'poor-to-fair' column. 

The nature of highly effective teaching is a combination of strong knowledge and understanding of curriculum and pedagogy, coexisting with the ability to inspire and motivate a wide variety of students through caring and learning-focused relationships. We also wish for these relationships and the learning in classrooms to be aligned to our mission and values.

“The craftsman teacher understands that they are continually perfecting their craft and are willing to work toward attaining their own high standards through the pursuit of ongoing learning. They seek precision, mastery, and refinement in their craft. They generate and refine clear visions of student learning goals and professional goals, and strive for exact critical thought processes. They use precise language for describing their work and make thorough and rational decisions about the actions they take. They test and revise, constantly honing strategies to reach their goals. In short, they persist in the service of their craft.”

Modified (slightly) from Costa and Garmston (2013)

Aspiring to self transformation

Theories of institutional development in education, based upon the work of Robert Kegan at Harvard University are used in order to describe the kinds of professional learning we undertake. Robert Kegan, and Bill Powell whose work builds upon his, describe four potential levels of development in schools. We believe we have both the capacity and the resources available to achieve the self-transforming model described below.

A quick description of each stage in institutional development follows; each successive level subsumes, rather than replaces the prior levels:

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Instrumental Stage

  • We need to get things done!
  • Rule-bound. Large policy manuals. Prescribed consequences for infractions
  • No mission (no connection)
  • Little trust (contractual)
  • Plans based on external accreditation
  • PD seen as implied criticism
  • Teacher evaluation is one size fits all (checklist)
  • Conflict resolved by power with a winner and a loser
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Socialising Stage

  • Mission shared by those who wrote it; values are external
  • Pseudo-trust, congenial loyalty and conviviality
  • Long-term planning reflects external trends; common practice = best practice
  • Jumps from one ‘latest idea’ to the next—not coherent
  • Teacher supervision = checklists to encourage; little feedback
  • Conflict avoidance
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Self Authoring Stage

  • Mission is shared and guides decision-making
  • Relational trust; expectations and obligations are clear
  • Strategic plan reflects values, often overwhelming
  • PD is considerable and coherent but informational, separate from daily craft
  • Supervision focuses on behaviours and learning with some feedback
  • Conflict is mostly cognitive
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Self Transforming Stage

  • Stakeholders select the school because of the mission
  • Values drive daily decision-making with shared norms and beliefs
  • Opportunities to develop relational trust are sought
  • Strategic goals are clear and broad but strategy is fluid and flexible
  • Professional learning in everyday practice; action research and pilots
  • Conflict is embraced as a chance to learn, and managed sensitively to build relationships and trust

Framework for Professional Learning

Our Professional Learning Programme (PLP) takes place within a framework where we:

  • employ professionals who are highly competent, well-qualified and well-referenced, who are passionate and values-driven
  • are committed to ongoing professional learning as an organisation and invest heavily in professional learning related to our strategy
  • prioritise human-centred organisational decision-making

The framework also embeds a mindset of continuous improvement; a methodology to address any identified gaps in teacher performance; heavy strategic investment in teacher development; and guiding pathways for career progression, both internal and external. Our wellbeing principles of connectedness, autonomy and competence underpin our approach to the wellbeing of all.

Five-domain focus

The broad focus for professional learning can be considered within five main domains:

  1. teaching: improve pedagogical practice in order to directly improve the learning

  2. leadership: building the capacity for collaboration, coaching, facilitating and presenting within our staff and positional leaders in order to indirectly improve learning

  3. management: building the knowledge and skills of staff and positional leaders so that they feel confident to develop, maintain and improve the structures supporting the school, e.g., its policies, processes, practices

  4. culture (underpins the first three): develop values, attitudes and competencies aligned to our guiding statements, e.g., the mission, the skills and qualities of our profile, in order to strengthen a culture and behaviours aligned to our mission and improve learning in some hard to measure but nevertheless critical areas

  5. networking and thought leadership: reputation, recruitment, innovation

Professional Learning Provision

Our priorities cover a broad spectrum of needs, by nature of the diversity of the stakeholders, and this also necessitates the use of a variety of means to integrate Professional Learning in the College. Some of the different means of provision are described and illustrated below:

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College-initiated foci for workshops or extended enquiry

The College promotes or advocates participation in sustained enquiry or development aligned to the College Professional Learning strategy, usually in the form of staggered workshops facilitated by external specialists. Importantly, the College prefers to establish long-term relationships with these experts, allowing us to contact them with questions throughout the course of the year. 

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Professional Learning Days

Two or three times a year, a professional learning day is scheduled, providing staff with focused learning together on campus while students undertake self-directed learning at home. The Professional Learning on these days usually incorporates campus, school and team level learning opportunities and the topics of focus are linked directly to the College Strategy and Campus Strategic Plans. 

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External course and conference representation

External learning opportunities are offered throughout the year as appropriate. These opportunities range from online courses or webinars to face-to-face workshops, conferences and certification. 

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Professional Learning Programme

Every year, every member of staff including all leaders, commit to personal professional learning goals. There are three recorded and scheduled coaching conversations with a mentor each year to ensure working towards these goals is supported: a planning conversation in Term 1, an ongoing reflection in Term 2, and a final reflective conversation in Term 3. This sits at the heart of individual staff professional learning and is aligned to applications for further learning.The majority of an individual's PLP goals are aligned to team and campus plans through the lens of the individual’s immediate context. 

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Collaborative meeting time for Professional Learning

Each week, schools organise professional learning sessions for their staff. This substantial time is designed to support professional learning aligned to strategic plans. That time can also be used for pragmatic, administrative purposes where necessity dictates.

Throughout the school, teams have collaborative time to work together. This varies a great deal by grade and team due to timetable related matters and timing of teaching load. We know that this can be the most effective form of professional learning: when teams look at evidence of learning together and plan next steps and reflect upon their practice. On East Campus, an allocated time is set aside for this on Wednesday afternoons with a four-week cycle to allow for different groups to work together. On Dover, the timings and time allocations are organised at team, department and/or school level. 

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Further education subsidies

We set aside funds each year to acknowledge and support teaching staff who choose to pursue postgraduate study related to education or their role in our community.

In recognition of the hard work and expense that goes into this, and the benefits to the school, the College reviews applications and awards funding to contribute towards these studies.

Teachers are asked to submit their applications in October each year, which are then considered at the senior leadership team meetings in November, and decided and announced in December. 

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Learning Coaches

The College invests in a number of pedagogical coaches across the schools, whose roles are to directly support teachers with their classroom craft. There are literacy coaches in Primary and Middle School, Maths coaches in Primary School, and Digital Literacy Coaches in Primary, Middle and High School with varying teaching loads.

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On the job learning

Much of the Professional Learning happens through the daily work of teaching; through lesson planning and post-lesson reflection, sharing with colleagues, and learning through doing. The College works deliberately and systematically to ensure the school maintains a culture which facilitates collaboration, innovation and experimentation.