Empowering students to make a positive difference in the world

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Students at UWC Atlantic College expand their world view through engagement opportunities with local and international charities, other schools and non-governmental organisations.

Number of learners: 370
Age range: 14-19
Date of inspection: September 2016

Information about the school

UWC Atlantic College was established in 1962.  The college is the founding member of United World Colleges, a group of 17 independent international schools and colleges.  It is a residential co-educational college for students from across the world that is situated on the south coast of Wales at St Donat’s Castle. 

Context and background to sector-leading practice

As an international, mission-based educational institution, UWC Atlantic College aspires to ensure that the UWC mission to “make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future” is deeply embedded in the learning environment and the learning experiences of the 370 students who come from over 80 different countries.  To achieve this idealistic, yet pragmatic, educational objective, the college seeks to provide a broad range of learning experiences that enables students to reach out, work with partners, and engage with the world, both globally and locally.

UWC Atlantic College embraces enthusiastically the adage of “thinking globally and acting locally”.  However, it refines this approach to encourage students to simultaneously think and act both locally and globally.  The college nurtures students to be ethical and informed citizens of the world.  It encourages them to be active contributors to the local context in which they find themselves during their two years at the college.  Students’ experiences during their time at UWC Atlantic College, and in Wales, are a crucial stage in what the college expects to be a life-long journey towards active citizenship and influencing positive change in society.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

UWC Atlantic College’s outreach and partnership engagement approach seeks to work with like-minded organisations, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) throughout the world.  These include Oxfam, Voluntary Service Overseas, United World Schools, and Seeds of Peace.  These connections and partnerships impact beneficially upon the students’ world view.  They present structures to help students to develop a deeper understanding and then to grasp the opportunities to ‘make a difference’ in the world around them.  Partnership with the international social entrepreneurship organisation Ashoka offers opportunities for students to submit self-generated project plans as part of that organisation’s ‘Young Social Entrepreneurs’ initiative.  Similar projects working with the UWC GoMakeADifference (GOMAD) venture provide ‘seed’ funding for students to put their ‘change-making’ plans into practice, often in their own countries of origin.

The college also recognises the importance of local Welsh outreach partnerships.  Atlantic College strives to develop links with Welsh-based institutions and organisations including the European Commission Office in Wales, British Council Wales, and the Welsh Government.  Representatives from these groups provide relevant lectures, workshops and external visit opportunities to students.  The college has developed an exceptionally strong partnership with the Vale of Glamorgan-based NGO Vale for Africa, which works with a less-advantaged community in Tororo, Uganda. http://www.valeforafrica.org.uk/.

On the immediate local level, Atlantic College students work with young children from comprehensive and primary schools in Llantwit Major, Cowbridge, Bridgend and Barry.  These connections contribute to a symbiotic sharing of experiences and insights across cultures.  Atlantic College has also instituted an ‘Associated Schools Programme’, with partner schools throughout Wales and the rest of the UK.  This partnership helps to enhance inter-cultural engagement, and to develop networks of young people working together for positive change.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

UWC Atlantic College’s outreach and partnership educational approach is predicated upon the ideal that in order for students to engage with the world, they must come to know, understand and work with others whose experience is different from their own.  The learning environment at UWC Atlantic College, with its many nationalities, is a nexus for such intercultural engagement.  The benefits for students are enhanced by the determined and structured efforts the college makes to reach out beyond the immediate school context and to embrace fully the world that lies simultaneously at Atlantic College’s doorstep, and in students’ own ‘global-mindedness’. 

In the recent inspection of the college, inspectors noted that:

• The exceptional international family ethos is particularly successful in encouraging pupils to reflect on their role in society and how their actions can affect and transform the lives of others
• Pupils have extensive opportunities to initiate, lead and engage in local and global development projects that embrace the college’s vision that pupils should ‘be empowered to make a positive difference in our world’ 
• Participation in these activities prepares pupils well to affect change and underpins the college’s ambition that education should be ‘transformative’

How have you shared your good practice?

The college has shared its practice with the partners involved and with other colleges within the United World Colleges group. 

Links: https://www.uwc.org/school/uwc-atlantic-college-0