Located in Phuket, UWCT is an all-through IB school with a difference. As well as offering all three IB programmes, this small school has a strong focus on mindfulness, outdoor education and service learning – and a strong provision for students with learning difficulties.
Phuket has established itself as a rich educational centre with several international schools – and UWCT added itself to that list in 2016. This all through school is one of only a few schools in Thailand to offer the complete IB programme: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (IBDP). What really stands about UWCT, though, is its holistic educational programme that covers academia, mindfulness, service and outdoor education. Located next to a sports resort, the school also offers a well-rounded and competitive sports programme.
The school opened as Phuket International Academy in 2009 and became the world’s 16th UWC school in 2016. This brought it into the fold of a school group that was founded by one of the world's most influential educationalists, Kurt Hahn. As well as previously founding Schule Schloss Salem in Germany and Gordonstoun in Scotland, Hahn is largely responsible for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
UWC schools are recognised for encouraging students to flourish, intellectually, emotionally and physically. They are also well-known internationally for their focus on embedding Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and mindfulness into the curriculum – and this philosophy seeps through into the school's current thinking. Now into its second year as a UWC school, UWCT offers,
“an holistic educational programme that encompasses academics, social and emotional learning and mindfulness, service, outdoor education and activities.”
If there’s one thing you should expect from this IB school, it’s to receive a very well-rounded education.
The head teacher at this not for profit school is Jason McBride, formerly the head of a three-programme IB World School in Canada, and with experience at schools in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mexico and the UK.
A UWC school
UWCT differs from other UWC schools in a number of ways. Firstly, it is paid for while many other UWC schools around the world are free. Secondly, it is one of only four UWC schools to teach a pre-16 syllabus to students as young as 18 months through to 18 years. It still remains the same size as an average UWC school, though, as it has just 450 students representing around 60 nationalities.
In terms of curriculum, the school fully embraces the UWC’s guiding principles by integrating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and mindfulness into its educational approach. SEL focuses on developing life skills including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. According to research, this focus on the social and emotional development of students improves academic achievement, problem-solving skills and positive peer relations. The school day also include a period of quiet time for students to engage in mindfulness, which includes “a movement practice, a stillness practice and reflection”.
The IB's CAS – Community, Activity, Service – dovetails perfectly with UWC's belief in voluntary work. UWCT provides an extensive and diverse programme that offers students the opportunity to work with a range of people in the community, and in both local and global initiatives. This programme is steered impressively by the school’s Global Concerns Committee (GCC), a student led initiative.
The school offers extensive learning support to its students through the Arrowsmith programme. Suitable for students aged nine to 18, the programme focuses on learning difficulties with reading, writing and mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, problem solving, visual and auditory memory, non-verbal learning, attention, processing speed and dyslexia.
An IB school
The school’s nursery programme for children aged 18 months to three years centres on play-based learning, and includes activities as varied as yoga, cooking and swimming. UWCT’s curriculum is based on the three IB frameworks: students aged three to 11 years follow the PYP, 11 to 16-year-olds move on to the MYP, and students aged 16-18 complete the IBDP.
All three IB programmes, which are learner centred and inquiry based, cover languages, humanities, sciences, maths, the arts, physical health education and technology. Although the school has no traditional IT or computer labs, it does have iPads in every classroom, a Bring Your Own Device policy for Grades 4 and above, and modern technology such as 3D printers.
The 2017 inaugural graduating class of UWCT achieved an average score of 33 in the IBDP, which is higher than the global average of 30 and marks a promising start for the school.
Good heart, Balanced mind, Healthy body
UWCT lives up to its motto of Good heart, Balanced mind, Healthy body in all aspects of the school. There are plenty of opportunities for learning outdoors, including day trips and expeditions. What really stands out here, though, is Project Week, which sees Grade 11 students plan, book, and budget their own service-related expedition.
After school activities are held during lunchtimes, after-school and on weekends, and they range from free clubs to paid-for classes run by Thanyapura’s junior development programme or the renowned Phuket Academy of Performing Arts (PAPA).
Students are actively involved in the running of the school, from voting on the menu in the school canteen every International Friday through to developing a food waste system.
Located at the foothills of a national park in Phuket, UWCT has a stunning green campus with separate buildings for the early years, primary and secondary schools. It feels worlds away from the urban sprawl of Bangkok.
Facilities include a multi-purpose hall, performing arts centre, gymnasium, black box theatre and sports hall. The school neighbours the Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort, and students can access the resort’s fitness centres, beach volley pitch, sports pitches, athletics track, sports courts and swimming pools.
Students can board weekly or full time at the on-campus boarding houses from the age of 13.
Admission and fees
The good news is that UWCT is one of the more affordable schools in Thailand, and slightly cheaper than other international schools in Phuket. Fees range from THB 555,000 in Grade 1 to THB 654,000 in Grade 6 and THB 703,000 in Grade 11 – and they include membership to the Thanyapura resort.
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