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Dear UWCSEA Community,

The perennial what students should learn? question is more relevant today than it has ever been. It might surprise non-educators to know that this is even a debate – but once you get beyond the basics, it turns out that there is no definitive answer: we have to draw on conceptions about what’s worth knowing, and also speculate on what the future will bring, and ultimately, what is valuable in education and what is worth pursuing in life in general. These are profound questions that schools rarely ask, but that all schools answer even if only implicitly; you can look at a school’s curriculum to deduce what the school values.

At UWCSEA, we have continually innovated to prepare students for what is before them, in terms of continued learning, changing career demands and meaningful lives of purpose. We are therefore excited to announce two significant developments in our High School offerings on both campuses, beginning in August 2024 and August 2025. Despite the changes being some way in the future, we are informing you as soon as the decision was confirmed by the Board of Governors, as we are keen to open conversations about the opportunities they present for your child(ren).

IB Diploma, beginning 2024

We are committed to the IB Diploma and will continue to offer it to all our students. We are delighted to say that from August 2024, there will be an additional option for students taking the IB Diploma qualification, which opens up different combinations and opportunities for students. This option requires two Standard Level courses to be replaced with a focus on mission-aligned areas of interest, such as leadership, systems thinking, peace studies or sustainability. There will also be more varied forms of assessment (continuous assessment, portfolios and so on). 

The IB has offered this flexible programme only to UWCSEA and UWC Atlantic as part of their strategic development of the IB Diploma and its future. The IB’s confidence in choosing us to partner with them on this programme, and award the full IB Diploma qualification for it, is a mark of their trust in our teachers, leaders and students, and in our ability to develop and deliver high-quality programmes to create outstanding student experiences. Through this ongoing partnership, we are informing and influencing the future of the IB globally.

The table below outlines the IB Diploma options from the August 2024 Grade 11 entry.

IB Diploma

From August 2024
Grade 11 entry

Option 1 

Option 2 


  • 3 High Level
  • 3 Standard Level
  • 3 High Level, 
  • 1 Standard Level
  • Course involving various pathways of Mission-aligned learning


CAS, Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay

CAS, Theory of Knowledge, Extended Essay


IB Diploma

IB Diploma

Further information will be shared in due course. For now, we are grateful for the opportunity to innovate for our students and excited to start developing content and designing the student experience, in line with our mission.

Grade 9/10, beginning 2025

Those of you who have been at the College for a few years will be aware that a level of flexibility and choice has already been introduced in the Grade 9/10 programme. 

  • Students on East Campus can choose between a full (I)GCSE programme or a full UWCSEA programme
  • Students on Dover Campus can choose between a full (I)GCSE programme or a programme that includes a combination of (I)GCSE and UWCSEA courses. 

The UWCSEA courses provide students with more flexibility than the (I)GCSEs, while retaining an academically challenging and personally enriching programme for students in Grades 9 and 10. 

As we reflect on the direction of education globally, the skills our young people will need in the future, the expectations of universities, and the changing world of work, it has become clear that qualification at the end of Grade 10 is no longer necessary, either for those leaving for other schools, or for university entrance. Universities have confirmed with us that (I)GCSEs are not critical for students, even in the UK, nor are they necessary for students transitioning to another school or system for Grade 11. At the same time, we need to introduce more flexibility into our Grade 9/10 programme to respond to the different needs and interests of our students and global trends in education. The (I)GCSE programme was not designed to meet these needs and cannot provide that flexibility.

These two factors, alongside our commitment to the IB Diploma, have led us to decide that, from the 2025/2026 school year onwards, we will no longer be offering the (I)GCSE programme on either campus to students entering Grade 9. Instead, we will offer a UWCSEA Grade 9/10 programme that gives students more flexibility and choice, more complex, real-world problem solving, more interdisciplinary thinking and more authentic assessment in line with the IB Diploma assessment model. Students will continue to write exams, and will also be able to explore greater breadth or greater depth of study, with opportunities to go beyond the scope of (I)GCSE syllabi. 

For students entering Grade 9 in August 2023 or August 2024, the (I)GCSE courses will continue to be available, alongside the UWCSEA course. You can view a series of FAQs about the future move from (I)GCSE and the Grade 9/10 programme here. This is a ‘live’ document and will be updated with questions as they come in.

We will be sharing further information with parents and the wider community in the coming weeks and months and look forward to the conversations.

In enhancing our High School academic programme we are also deepening and creating further possibilities for our entire holistic programme, celebrating all five elements of academics, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education and service. This is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to continue our proud tradition of curriculum innovation that will support the rapidly changing needs of our students. 

Thank you to the IB, Governors, teachers, staff, students and our parent community, for your trust and support.

Exciting times ahead.

Nick Alchin
Head of College