UWC: Schedules and Timelines (in progress)

Posted on Nov 7, 2012

This is a living post.  I’m getting in touch with students and staff from the different Colleges!

After I wrote about the academic schedule, I got into several conversations about the schedule and timelines of the Colleges.  The United World Colleges around the world run the same IB program (with exception of Venezuela college), but we differ in operational details.  It would be interesting to look at and summarize the similarities and differences.

I chose to break down an academic year into the microscopic schedule (academic schedule: how does day-to-day classes work?) and the macroscopic timeline (what celebrations and events happen in the year, and when?).  For the timeline I will be using the Clock representation, adapted for months.

Thanks goes to Mark Sylvester for the current Adriatic operation (and rationale), and Trevor Marriott for the considerations going into LPCUWC’s calendar.

Daily Schedules

For the UWCs I’ve studied or taught at (Adriatic, Pearson, LPC), classes are morning activities and end at lunch.  Within the constraint there’s minor differences in arrangements.

Different daily schedules from each UWC

Breakfast: The Hong Kong college have 30 min breakfast after the first class.  This is a student health support measure, to make sure that everyone eats breakfast (instead of just rolling out of bed and into class).  Mahindra gets 20 min breakfast time.  Duinese get no breakfast slot, presumably from the practical constraint of mensa being far from the school building (I do still remember the yogurt, selected flavours disappearing preferentially).

Class length: LPC > Ad > Mahindra.  What surprised me was that, at 10 minutes each, the blocks at Mahindra is actually substantially shorter.  Over 200 blocks, Mahindra would actually only get ~167 hours of contact time, equivalent to 167 of LPC blocks.  Adriatic sits exactly in the middle.

Last block extension: In every college, the last block can be optionally extended for 30 minutes.  This is usually used for labs.  (Though in my own teaching I haven’t made use of them… yet.)

Academic Cycles


Unlike a static week-based calendar, where the same classes happens at the same day/time from week to week, all UWCs run in cycles.  In the Cycle system, the first academic day starts at Cycle 1, Day 1.  Each academic day that follows will either increment in Day (e.g., Cycle 1, Day 2), or loop to Day 1 of a new cycle when the end is reached.

Mahindra and LPCUWCs both run on 7 day cycles.  In these two systems, all blocks appear exactly 5 times in each cycle.  However, the LPCUWC cycle have vertical cycles of sequential blocks (A always precedes B), but Mahindra have horizontal cycles, so a different class will follow block A on different days.  I’m not sure what were the practical reasons that drove these decisions.

Adriatic, on the other hand, runs on an 8 day cycle.  Not all block are equal here: 4 blocks are higher level blocks, which appears 6 times each, and the others are SL blocks that appear only 4 times in a cycle.  (LPCUWC used to run on 8 day cycles as well, but with each block appearing exactly 5 times.  By switching to the 7-day cycle, there is more contact time overall for HL subjects over the year.)



Yearly Timeline

  • Bruce_William_Smith

    This is fascinating. I hope you will keep up this comparison, and post some more results. I am particularly interested in comparing how UWCs schedule student time with how the European Schools do the same.

    • Jon

      Hi Bruce,

      One component of the comparison (yearly schedule as a clock) is spinning into a much bigger project than I have time to do ATM, so the complete installment will probably not be until the summer.

      Regarding your interest, we have generally far less class time than other IB schools: we have ~160 hrs over two years to teach a 240 hr IB Higher Level class.


      • Bruce_William_Smith

        That sounds really challenging . . . yet you make it work. You must have really quick students!

        • Jon

          Yes, this is a credit to them. At the same time, the extreme time crunch means that we can’t do things that are educational but not directly in the curriculum. For IB chemistry this would include non-physical chemistry labs such as synthesis, since they are seldom of the assessible intellectual rigor (though practically useful… and fun!)

  • Sharona

    Do you have a sample of one of the schools schedule that you can post?

    • Jon

      Hi Sharona,

      If you mean a yearly schedule, then no, not immediately. The schedule I have in hand is a (private) electronic version, and not very amenable to description. In part this is why there’s been limited progress since drafting this post — I’m not sure how to get the yearly schedules aligned right without having to manually do each one.

      If there are more specific questions, I will be happy to try answering.


  • Very inspiring! I also want to make my Schedules following this.

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