This new-age pre-primary to class V co-ed day school sited in the shadow of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, has quickly established an excellent reputation within the emirate’s expatriate parents community – Summiya Yasmeen
Sited in the heart of Dubai — the commercial capital of the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s most diversely cosmopolitan cities with 83 percent (2.6 million) of its residents foreign-born — the new-age Clarion School (CS, estb.2016) has quickly established a reputation within the emirate’s expatriate parents community for providing a rigorous American-style curriculum, experiential and inter-disciplinary pedagogies and excellent sports and co-curricular education.
This five-year-old school was adjudged runner-up in the ‘Best American School in the UAE’ competition organised by the Dubai-based schoolscompared.com. Recognised by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the Dubai government’s education quality assurance and regulatory authority, Clarion is currently a pre-kindergarten to class V co-ed day school with 240 children of 42 nationalities instructed by 35 teachers. New grades are being added each year with the management having applied for accreditation with the US-based New England Association of Colleges and Schools (NEASC). Clarion reopened last August after almost five months of closure because of the Covid-19 disruption with students given the option of in-person, online and hybrid classes. However, 92 percent of students attend in-person classes every day.
“Clarion School is UAE’s premier American model school conceptualised as an experiential learning and discovery academy. We believe that a child with a curious mind will become a life-long learner capable of succeeding anywhere in the fast-changing world. Therefore, we have designed a unique curriculum to deeply engage children in purposive and meaningful learning. This curriculum meets the highest tier American K-12 education standards, including the Common Core, which is interdisciplinary, stimulating and taught by highly qualified educators,” says James Pastore, principal of Clarion School. An alumnus of the University of Notre Dame and College of New Jersey, USA, Pastore has over 30 years of international teaching experience having taught in schools in Latin America, Italy, and the US, before being appointed principal of CS last August.
This 21st century school is promoted by the Dubai-based Scholars International Group (SIG) founded by Indian-origin entrepreneur Aparna Verma, a graduate of Georgetown University, USA, and Parsons School of Design, New York. SIG also owns and manages the Cambridge International (UK)-affiliated Dubai Scholars Private School (promoted as a nursery by Aparna’s mother in 1976) and the Scholars International Academy, Sharjah, UAE. Together, the three schools have an aggregate 3,346 students.
The newest greenfield venture of SIG, Clarion is sited on a modern 4.7 acre campus built in the shadow of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The school’s open free-flowing campus houses 27 Smart Classrooms, a carpeted library with 7,200 print volumes, several Apple computer workstations and a mini ‘amphitheater’ for read-aloud presentations. Moreover, 150 ipads are distributed among the school’s 27 classrooms for use by students. Sports facilities include two swimming pools, a synthetic turf football ground, basketball and tennis/volleyball courts, and an indoor physical education room.
“The distinguishing feature of Clarion School is our ‘openness’. The grounds and buildings are open and spacious; rooms are infused with natural light through large windows and wide hallways, and we use recyclable wood, bamboo and other natural materials. But even more than the infrastructure, we pride ourselves for having chosen our teachers from around the world with great care and diligence. They are committed to the teachers’ vocation, child-friendly, caring and open to newest pedagogies that ignite children’s curiosity about life and learning — in alignment with our school motto: The Art of Igniting Curiosity,” says Pastore.
Yet according to Pastore, this new greenfield primary school’s key feature is its contemporary, internationally benchmarked curriculum, incorporating globally best pedagogy innovations. For instance, the school’s curriculum is aligned with the New York State Common Core +15 standards as well as the US-based Partnership for 21st Century Learning which accords prime importance to developing the 4Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) of all students. The school is also a member of the Common Ground Collaborative (CGC), a global association of international schools “working towards more teacher and student empowerment through hands-on, personal project-based learning”. “From early childhood through to primary school, all our teaching-learning is experiential and project-based,” adds Pastore.
With CS having speedily established an excellent reputation within Dubai’s sophisticated upper middle class community, and set to roll out its middle and senior schools over the next seven years, Pastore is optimistic about the future. “Our teething pains are over and we will be adding class VI in September 2021, and progressively establishing our middle and secondary schools to ensure we are positioned to grow together with our parents community.”
Admission & fees
Currently, Clarion School offers nursery to class V education with upper primary school (class VI) scheduled to start in September. Admission is open year-round for all classes.
Fees (per year): 43,000-76,500 dirhams (Rs.8.6-15.3 lakh)
Also read: UAE & South Asia Top 10 schools