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Q+A: Clarion School, Dubai

Q+A: Clarion School, Dubai

Clarion School, situated in the Al Quoz area of Dubai, is the first affiliate school of the renowned Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Here the school answers our questions and takes us on a guided tour...

How old is the school?

We were established in 2016 in Dubai. Our affiliate school, Bank Street College of Education, was founded in New York over 100 years ago and Bank Street School for Children has been educating children for over 50 years.

How many students do you have?

We are a small community school; the full capacity of the school will be 1300 at maturity.

What accreditations do you have?

We are candidates for the New England Association for Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and will be candidates for accreditation to provide the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBDP) in high school.

What assessments are required to enroll?

The assessment /observations will be led by Clarion teachers and children will engage in different age-appropriate activities to see if they are school ready. This will take place either at Clarion School or the child’s nursery.

For older children, we assess by interview which may include MAP testing.

Parents are also interviewed as part of the process. This enables us to understand your requirements too.

What happens when parents visit the school?

Parents are greeted by a friendly smile from security, checked in and then given a warm welcome from our admissions team.

We offer tailored school tours, introducing our progressive curriculum and highlighting our purpose-built campus.

School tours are held every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 9am, and also by appointment. In addition to school tours, we hold open mornings every month which are led by our Senior Leadership Team, where a presentation is given followed by a tour of the school.

What do you do to help children settle?

Home visits – before the academic year begins all teachers will visit their students in their home. The phase-in period allows the children to get slowly acclimatize to the classroom routines and activities. Your child’s teacher will work closely with you to determine how, when and for how long you will leave the classroom. The goodbyes may not only be difficult for your child but for you too.

What facilities do you offer?

Our school has an innovative design, and our IT facilities deploy 21st century Apple technology. Our classrooms are open to the outdoors in the cooler months, creating a large and natural learning space. The extra-wide corridors have been designed as an extension of the classroom to engage the students and illustrate to them that the whole campus is a place of learning. The external landscape is comprised of natural elements, and our woodwork shop and “street” are unique to Clarion.

Our inspiring campus rests in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world and a monument to Dubai’s aspirations to being the global center of innovation and possibilities. The singularity of Dubai provides the perfect extended learning environment to support the rich and meaningful experiences that will enhance the deep learning of our children.

Facilities include:

  • learning pool
  • 25m pool
  • Elementary gymnasium
  • multi-purpose complex
  • specialist rooms for Music, Drama, Languages, Art and Design technology and Woodshop.

What is the background of your teachers?

Our primary avenue for teacher recruitment is through the Bank Street College of Education. We also use several secondary avenues such as the Progressive Educators Network, Harvard University and International School Services. All our teachers (other than specialists) are required to have teaching experience in the US and hold a Master’s Degree in Education from the US. This is unique in Dubai, no other school offers this level of experienced teaching staff.

What is the curriculum?

The Clarion School Curriculum is aligned to the highest level of US Standards, including the New York State Common Core + 15. The curriculum is also aligned to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, which ensures that critical competencies and character traits are supported and developed. A strong STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) focus runs through the school program. 

Students graduate with a High School Diploma and can also elect to take the IB Diploma Program in Grades 11 and 12.

How have you adapted the curriculum for learning in Dubai?

We believe that learning is not restricted to the classroom. Given its strategic location close to Business Bay and Sheikh Zayed Road, the campus also offers multiple opportunities to engage with the innovative business, scientific and arts centers of Dubai.

To make the learning meaningful and engaging, our curriculum and pedagogy incorporates many aspects of the local environment and culture, forming a significant part of the learning experiences of our students. We use Dubai as our learning laboratory.

What is your teaching philosophy? 

At Clarion we believe that all children are blessed at birth with an avid desire to learn. As a progressive school, we use our deep understanding of child development to create and provide our students with a curriculum framework that has a strong emphasis on learning by doing, problem solving and critical thinking. The foundation of our curriculum is based on the researched work of Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s Young Geographer Social Studies.

Our emphasis is on learning by doing (experiential learning). We know that children learn best in an environment suited to their age and stage of development, and therefore, have incorporated a range of multi-sensory modalities to motivate, support and guide student learning. We purposefully integrate curriculum subjects to ensure learning is authentic, meaningful and includes collaboration and the development of social skills.

We believe the social and emotional are inseparable from the intellectual, as demonstrated in our school student profile, where we inspire academic achievement, building character skills and empower students to apply what they know in a purposeful and significant way.

How do you teach reading?

In Early Years, students are exposed to a unique print-rich learning environment.

Our work in Elementary begins with a commitment to give students large amounts of time to read and, based on each child’s individual reading ability, we give them books that they can read with fluency, accuracy and comprehension.

Supporting students to read independently is a planned process. It is important to understand each child’s abilities and ensure that they are supported from their current level of reading to independence, using a gradual-release-of-responsibility model.

Initially students engage in a variety of activities to develop their phonemic awareness – the tools we use include Sounds in Motion and the Readers and Writers Project, which incorporates scholastic readers and an A–Z scale. We also use Literacy Pro, an online resource which supports specific instructional, independent, school and home connections, as well as assessment and monitoring of each child’s progress.

How large are your classes?

For Pre-K, the maximum number of students per class is 1518. In K1 and K2, the maximum number of students per class is 1520. In Grades 1 and higher, the maximum number of students is 1524.

Do you have a wide range of field trips?

As we are progressive school, experiential learning is essential so our students take at least one field trip a month on average across the year.

If my child moves between countries, can you ensure they will be equipped for a different educational system?

The ‘learning to learn’ knowledge, skills and attitudes our children learn at Clarion are transferable.

Clarion students are equipped to:

  • closely observe, experience, analyze, and make sense of the world around them
  • build intellectual curiosity and develop skills to gain new understandings
  • build equitable communities in which they participate, learn and advocate for one another and what they believe
  • think critically to analyze issues and design solutions to solve problems that are current and relevant to themselves, their communities and the world
  • see themselves and each other as whole people and active members of society
  • see the interdependent relationships of human-created systems and Earth systems on their learning and draw connections between new ideas and prior experiences.

With these skills our students are able to transition to a global pool of educational systems worldwide.

What is your homework policy?

Homework is formally introduced in the third grade. Students should not do more than 30 minutes a day, and homework is not given on weekends. Your child’s homework will be an extension of what they have learned in class.

How do you encourage inquiry-based learning?

We know and believe that learning is deep, natural and joyful when children are actively engaged with materials and the environment. Inquiry in action at Clarion is based on guiding students on a learning journey that is based on high-order questioning.

In all classes at Clarion, teachers discover through questions, conversations and observations, what students already know about a topic/subject/idea and develop learning engagements that ensure all students work towards building an enduring understanding based on what is worth knowing. Students are supported to take action with their learning. These ‘learning to learn’ skills are applied as ‘habits of the mind’ in all aspects of their daily lives.

What languages do you offer?

Languages are essential at Clarion School. The main language of instruction is English. French and Arabic are mandatory starting from Pre K. We follow KHDA guidelines for Arabic and Islamic studies from grade 1 onward. In middle school, a third additional language will be offered.

How can parents get involved?

Our goal is to be a community school where parents are welcome participants with teachers and school leadership. The purpose of the Clarion Parents Association is to create a non-academic network for parents to build communities, and support the mission and vision of the school through activities and events that enrich the student experience.

From the Clarion Parent Community (CPC), the Parent Café and our important Reader program, there are many opportunities for Clarion parents to actively participate at the school, and help foster a spirit of inclusion, partnership, affinity, and cooperation. At the start of the school year, please contact the admissions office or your child's classroom teacher for more information.

How often are parents invited to attend assemblies?

Parents are welcomed to all our assemblies. There are a minimum of two assemblies a month.

Do parents come in and help with reading?

Yes, parents are welcome to help with reading, field trips and other activities.

How often are parents invited to parent evenings?

We hold morning and evening events for parents several times a month.

How often do parents receive written reports?

Written reports are provided twice a year and parent/teacher conferences are held three times a year.

Do you offer parent workshops relating to what students are learning?

We offer several interactive workshops and informative sessions.

What opportunities exist for parents to speak to their child’s teacher?

During the first 15 minutes of the school day or at pick up. Parents can also make an appointment to meet with the teacher. Each teacher has a blog that is updated daily/weekly and parents have access to the “communicator” app, available on all smart devices, where they can read weekly newsletters and emails. 

What co-curricular activities do you provide?

We have co-curricular activities for Pre-K and up, ranging from the following areas: academics, athletics, arts (performing and visual) and community. Co-curricular activities support the development and interests of the children and so change as needed.

Do you have annual productions? 

All students will be able to perform at Winter and Spring concerts every year.

What musical instruments can children learn at your school?

Students at Clarion school are exposed to different instruments each year percussion instruments, xylophone, recorder, guitar and keyboard, just to name a few.

Do you have a swimming pool on site? 

Yes, we have a teaching pool as well as a 25m international competition pool. Swimming is part of our curriculum so it is offered all year around.

How do most children travel to and from school? 

Most children are dropped off and picked up. However, we do have a bus service available, including for students taking part in after-school activities, which costs AED9,500 annually.

Do you have a cafeteria?

Yes, we have a cafeteria. Students can bring their lunch or order from our caterer.

Our choice of caterer at school is essential to complementing our vision of providing the best that we can for our students whilst they are in our care. 

Our aim is to offer a healthy balance and choice of food, using organic, locally sourced ingredients where possible. The catering team creates delicious lunch and snack options for our cafeteria and for our Parents’ Café in the main lobby. 

Do you arrange for guest speakers, such as authors and experts to come to the school?

Yes, as we are a community school we often host educational talks with experts and invite guest authors to read to our students.

All images courtesy of Clarion School, Dubai.

Please go to this link to view Clarion School's profile on Winter's. 

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