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Clarion School, Al Quoz Park 1
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Clarion School, Al Quoz Park 1

by Jon WestleyJanuary 30, 2016
Strengths

• Exceptionally well-qualified Advisory Board, rooted in US progressive educational provision
• Curriculum backed by Bank Street College of Education, New York, a major US player in progressive US education and teacher development
• Highly talented and experienced founding leadership team
• Guaranteed minimum teacher qualifications for entry places the school in Tier 1
• Phased, structure opening of phases designed to provide students a very high standard of education from opening without the potential teething issues of a new school
• Pioneering commitment to bursary provision for existing parents in exceptional circumstances to protect their children’s education
• Backing of long-established educational group with a history of schools provision in Sharjah
• Very serious commitment to G&T from the outset, personally guided by the school Principal
• Impressive dual-stream choice of US High School Diploma/International Baccalaureate Certificate/Diploma programmes in KG12/13 according to the individualised learning and aspiration profile of each student

Weaknesses

• Inherent risks of a new school, albeit moderated by significant investment in experienced school leadership and US partnership with Bank Street
• Facilities and school in build phase and design renders inevitably give a limited understanding off the final quality off provision
• Devil is in the detail

Is this school on your shortlist?
Top of shortlist
42%
In my Top 5
32%
Shortlisted
11%
A possibility
0%
Pass
5%
No way
11%

With a plethora of tier-one schools opening in the Emirates, it takes something very special to stand out from the crowd.

A notable feature of nearly all new UAE schools targeting the top end of the market are very significant investments in capital build and facilities. These however, no matter how grand and extensive, are the shell of a school and prospective parents should not be blinded by empty glass and steel promises. The heart of a school, and what matters, is its teaching staff.

There is every indication that Clarion gets this. The school promises an unqualified commitment to invest in the very best teachers, each qualified to a minimum Masters’ level education as a condition of joining, combined with more than three years teaching experience. There will be a maximum of only 15 students to each teacher to ensure highly individualised, progressive learning.

The school offers the first Bank Street, New York backed and-co-structured curriculum in the Emirates. Bank Street is in the top-5 educational training colleges in the US and has a 100-year history of working across US government and blue chip corporations in defining standards of US educational provision. The curriculum will offer the American Progressive Curriculum from Pre K. At Grade 11 and 12 students will be offered a choice between International Baccalaureate Diploma/Certificate and New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited high school diploma based streams, offering highly individualised learning according to each child’s abilities and aspirations.

There are other reasons why we think Clarion could become something special. Firstly it promises bursary assistance in special cases where parents face unexpected hardships during the course of their children’s education at the school, a key element of Bank Street’s provision in the US. Parents, and more importantly their children, will not be shown the door if the worst happens.

Secondly, the school makes it a condition of entry that parents are engaged with their children’s education; an open channel of school-parental communication is built into the DNA off the school from launch.

Thirdly, the school launches with a dedicated Gifted and Talented [G&T} child programme integrated within the school from launch, led by the school’s Principal (Superintendent), Dr. Kandace Williams. The importance of nurturing children with Special Educational Needs [SEN] and the Gifted and Talented child [G&T] is fundamental to KHDA standards but in many schools treated with significantly less attention than it requires. That this is being addressed at the very top of the school so early in the development cycle is impressive – although there is a caveat with the SEN provision – see below.

There is another major positive for prospective parents. Clarion’s Advisory Panel, driven by the ideals of US progressives, do not come any more qualified.

The Panel includes Dr. Paul Lieblich, best recognized for his work as the co-founder and co-author of the IB PYP (Primary Years Programme); Shael Polakow-Suransky, President of the Bank Street College of Education and former Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor of  the New York City Department of Education, the US’s largest school system with an annual budget of $400 million; and Alan Cohen, Co-Chair of Harvard Principals’ Center Advisory Board at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and Assistant Head of Speyer School, the NYC school for Gifted and Accelerated learners.

However, in spite of all of these positives, there are a number of considerations for prospective parents in shortlisting the school.

Like any new school Clarion is untested. Prospective parents should understand that any new school carries an element of compromise and risk. To some degree Clarion does offset this in its affiliation with Bank Street, the very high calibre of its leadership team and its starting ambitions.

Clarion has confirmed to our sister site that it will not offer specialist provision for children with dyslexia, dyspraxia or Aspergers syndrome and will have no educational psychologist within its planned Special Educational Needs [SEN] provision. For parents with children with more than moderate Special Educational Needs [SEN], Clarion School will not provide sufficient capacity to meet their children’s needs.

Clarion will also need to pay attention to staff retention. UAE schools have long had an issue with keeping good quality staff, and the school will need to make sure its remuneration starts, and remains competitive. Its current salary for starter teachers, $42,000 excluding benefits, may be insufficient for truly top-tier talent. Dubai is no longer an inexpensive city, and good quality teachers with Masters degrees will be at a premium.

Finally, US progressive educational approaches are at the very heart of complex political and educational debates in the US. The issues and educational impacts are complex, but for prospective parents seeking a more European, child-centred, and egalitarian educational environment for their children’s education, rooted in the US Common Core metrics, Clarion should score very highly.

Clarion School has the makings of one of Dubai’s top-tier flagship American curriculum schools. To be the Emirate’s finest US school remains an aspiration, but the blueprint, and indeed foundations are clearly, and strongly, in place.

 

Notes to parents.

(1) Clarion School opens in September 2016 and enrollment is open for enrollment from Pre-K to Grade 2. Clarion is the third school in the Scholars International Group (SIG) which also includes its founding school, Dubai Scholars, opened in 1976 and Scholars International Academy, both English National Curriculum schools. The group is privately owned and run by Aparna Verna, CEO, a UK and US educated, highly respected pioneer in UAE education who took over the running of Scholars at just 17 after the death of her parents. Clarion School is the Group’s first premium US based school.

Go to the News Story on WhichSchoolAdvisor.com

 

 

Details to consider
Type of school

Private, for-profit

Full WSA Review

Forthcoming September 2016

Average Cost Per Year

Pre-K: 43,000
FS1: 55,000
FS2: 64,500
YEAR 1: 76,500
YEAR 2: 76,500
YEAR 3: 76,500 (launching 2017)
YEAR 4: In planning
YEAR 5: In planning
YEAR 6: In planning
YEAR 7: In planning
YEAR 8: In planning
YEAR 9: In planning
YEAR 10: In planning
YEAR 11: In planning
YEAR 12: In planning
YEAR 13: In planning

Curriculum

Common Core + 15
High School Diploma
Bank Street College of Education, New York
International Baccalaureate Certificate and Diploma

External Exam Boards

New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
International Baccalaureate

Selective

No

Value Added

Not published

Number of Students

Maximum launch intake 240 (Pre-K to Year 2 ONLY) 2016-17

Teacher to Student Ratio

1:15

Largest nationality teachers

American

Year opened

New School 2016-17

Location

Al Quoz Park 1, Al Quoz, Dubai

Gender

Mixed, co-educational

School canteen

Yes

Owner

Scholars International Group (SIG)
(Aparna Verna)

Admissions Telephone

+971 4 457 4321

Web Address
Attainment Nur SEM

100% (Projection)

Attainment Pri SEM

100% (Projection)

Attainment Sec SEM

Provision in planning 2017+

Attainment Post-16 SEM

Provision in planning 2017+

Progress Nur SEM

100% (Projection)

Progress Pri SEM

100% (Projection)

Progress Sec SEM

Provision in planning 2017+

Progress Post-16 SEM

Provision in planning 2017+

Arabic Native Primary Results (Native)

75% (Projection)

Arabic Secondary Results (Native)

Provision in planning 2017+

Arabic Post-16 Results (Native)

Provision in planning 2017+

Arabic Primary Results (Add.)

75% (Projection)

Arabic Secondary Results (Add.)

Provision in planning 2017+

Arabic Post-16 Results (Add.)

Provision in planning 2017+

Islamic St. Primary Results

75% (Projection)

Islamic St. Secondary Results

Provision in planning 2017+

Islamic St. Post-16 Results

Provision in planning 2017+

Leadership

100% (Projection)

Community

100% (Projection)

Facilities

100% (Projection)

Quality of teaching

100% (Projection)

Student personal responsibility

100% (Projection)

Quality of curriculum

100% (Projection)

School Governance

75% (Projection)

SEN Provision

50% (Projection)

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Acting Editor of SchoolsCompared.com and the International Editor of WhichSchoolAdvisor.com. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at] schoolscompared.com
2 Comments
  • Mirna
    October 12, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Hi, is it possible to have an updated review now that the school is open? Many thanks…

    • October 12, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      Hi Mirna, we will be revisiting our review, but we will give the school a little time. It has not made it though the first term yet. In the meantime we would appreciate feedback from parents of children attending…

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