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.
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.
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.)
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.)