Gwent House and the integrated development program

Jonathan Hadad (Israel, AC 08-10)


Interview with Sarah Hamilton, house parent at Gwent house.


Can you define what Gwent house is?


Gwent house is the house in which IDP (integrated development program) students live. It’s funded by the government. We asked for a name for our house 4 years ago because we thought it would reduce the feeling of separation from the other houses on campus. The students get offered to some to Gwent house from their schools where they lived or by a governmental program that offers help to find jobs for young people for their future. Our calendar is basically the same as the rest of the college but the students have work for 4 weeks and then 4 weeks of studying. I don’t think they can get the same experience anywhere else in the UK because it’s a boarding school which means that they have a lot of time to interact with the rest of the students here. In their second year they do the program from home with more focus on a workplace which we help them find.


What is the Eco School Green Flag?


High schools sign up for this program to making their school more ecologically sustainable on a very high level. If the school is up to the organizations standards they receive the flag, as we did.


What do you think are your biggest challenges as a house parent at Gwent House?


Motivation definitely has to stay high for the students to get more active in the mornings and interact more with the rest of the campus and its events. The students tend to get nervous and shy and the more they come in contact with the other students on campus the better for their confidence.


When and why did you decide to become a house parent for Gwent house?


I actually worked in Atlantic College for 18 years, starting in the kitchen and threw a few more jobs. I found it very hard to imagine leaving this extraordinary place and the students here. After that my husband and I traveled and when we came back he decided he wanted to work as a social worker for youth and he became a house parent at Gwent House. I voluntarily helped him and through the years I started to take the responsibility over the students social skills and independence and Mark, my husband focused more on the classroom lessons. The students also have tutors to help them with communication skills.


Anything else you would like to add?


Our house is always open and we welcome anyone on campus to come and visit. We want to be as involved in the community and the different projects as possible. I’m starting an educational program to get skills for sustainable living to improve that aspect of our life here through new project we will start to do with habitats for animals on campus.


Interview with 17 year old Billy Richardson from Cardiff – Billy is a fellow student here at Atlantic College who lives in Gwent house. He will be doing the IDP program for the next two years.


Tell me a little about your life before coming to Atlantic College.


My name is Billy Richardson. I’m from Cardiff, Wales and I’m 17 years old. I lived with both my parents and my little sister Ally who is 14 years old. I have a very good connection with my uncles and aunts and I enjoy visiting my grandparents. I like spending time with my friends and I absolutely love Atlantic College.


What is your connection like with the IB students here at Atlantic College?


It’s very good. I get along with them very well. They’re very nice and friendly so it’s easy to get along with them.


Have you ever had a problem with one of them?


No, never. I really like and respect them.


Can you tell me about the IDP program? How different is it from the IB?


Well I know that our calendar is very different from yours. You come from different countries but we all live around here. Every weekend we go back home. We also don’t get any homework if we work that day (in the dining hall for example).


What do you think about our campus? Which parts do you like?


The campus is very beautiful. The forest is my favorite place. I also like the rose garden. The castle is historical and pretty. Early in the mornings I like to go to the seafront and look at the sunrise on the water. It’s amazing.


Do you miss home?


I’ve been here since the 10th of September 2009. I don’t miss home, probably because I get to come back every weekend. Sometimes I miss the food though. I usually like the food here in the dining hall but it really depends on the dish. I miss the Chili and the Fajitas I used to eat at home.


If you could change anything about Atlantic college, what would it be?


I would like to see the other IDP students being more social around the IB students like me. Over all, I think it would be great if the connection was stronger. If we would visit the other houses more it would probably help, maybe have parties or other events together.


Anything else you would like to add?


I just want to thank you for the interview. I’m happy to have my voice heard in United Words!


– United World College Student Magazine –


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