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A-level alternative promises to transform the world

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is trialling a pioneering new education programme at a Welsh college, which it hopes to roll out to schools across the world.

Created in partnership with the IB, UWC Atlantic will offer a bespoke, project-based, curriculum focused on addressing complex ‘systemic’ real-world challenges.

The new curriculum, called Systems Transformation Pathway: Leadership for Just Futures, will focus on tackling four global issues: Biodiversity, Energy, Food and Migration. Those behind the new programme say it will shine a light on “transformative change, systems leadership and making the world a fairer place”.

The course will be taken by a group of 20 students coming to UWC Atlantic in September 2023, and the college hopes the pilot will be rolled out to all its students by 2027. More schools around the globe will also be invited to trial the new approach, as part of a wider review by the IB into education for 16-19-year-olds.

The college’s principal Naheed Bardai said that he wants students to be able to “go beyond treatment symptoms” of the world’s challenges, such as climate change, and be able to offer systems wide solutions that get to the root cause.

Naheed Bardai, Principal, UWC Atlantic, said: “A more forward looking and relevant education for today’s youth is long overdue. This bold and courageous partnership between UWC Atlantic and the IB intends to do just that.”

Students taking part will not be assessed by traditional exams, but will still be awarded the full International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Olli-Pekka Heinonen, IB Director General, said: “Graduates of this new IB Diploma pathway will leave UWC Atlantic uniquely empowered. They’ll learn how to organise at scale and address systemic challenges, balancing the ‘why’ of systems thinking with the ‘now what?’ of transformative change, inspired to secure a just future for our people and planet.”