At a glance
Scholars International Academy was established in 2007 and as of 2016 there are a total of 1,070 students made up from 57 nationalities.
The school is part of the long established Scholars International Group, (SIG). SIG owns and manages the original Scholars School in Dubai and Clarion a new - progressive US curriculum school, also in Dubai.
Scholars International is mid-priced for the UAE as a whole, but mid- to premium-priced for Sharjah, with fees ranging from AED 20,800 for FS1 up to AED 36,00 for senior years. To a degree you get what you pay for however: Facilities are excellent, teachers are an international mix, and the school's leaders are active and driven to improve.
Facilities include science (physics, chemistry and biology) laboratories; specialist areas for art, design and technology, music, dance and drama, two dedicated spaces for ICT, along with a gym, two swimming pools, sport fields and an auditorium. The central outdoor space is called the ‘Commons’ and is possibly the most unique space in the school. This large covered grass area creates a sense of drama and offers a large outdoor play area for children at break time. Within the school the Library is the primary focal point for academic learning. The facility offers storytelling corners, IT stations, quiet areas and discussion spaces.
As only one of three Sharjah schools to push for an external BSO inspection, Scholars should again be applauded. In 2016 the school was awarded a rating of ‘Satisfactory and Improving,’ noting that Scholar’s strengths were the high quality of the attitudes and behaviour of all the students, strong relationships with parents, good spoken English throughout the school and teaching - the 'majority' of which is described as 'good'.
Interestingly, the report also highlights “the positive impact of recent staff appointments and strategies to retain the ‘best’. This has "enhanced the quality of the teaching overall”. A common issue in terms of teacher retention for Sharjah schools is that not only do they have to compete with a desire to return home, but also the bright lights of neighbouring Dubai.
Scholars International Academy's primary section delivers EYFS at Foundation Stage. The National Curriculum for England is taught in years 1 – 4, following Cambridge Education International for English, mathematics and science. In addition, Arabic language is taught to native speakers and foreigners, as well as Islamic Studies for Muslim students and local studies.
Years 5 and 6 follow a secondary-style curriculum model and the students remain in their class base for most of the subjects. Subject specialists teach these years. The academy says it recognises that where staff teach across the full age range 5-11, "they are not always fully equipped with the required skills and knowledge".
In Key Stage 3, the Cambridge course is supported by the National Curriculum courses for England for geography, history, PE, French and PSHE (for non-Muslim students only) while meeting ministry requirements for Arabic and Islamic Studies. Students also study performing arts as well as art and design technology. Classes are split by gender from Years 5 to 9.
In Key Stage 4, students work toward IGCSE in a minimum of seven subjects but have the opportunity to study up to 10. The core subjects of mathematics, English, Arabic, Islamic Studies and PE continue, and students are able to choose their other subjects from five option blocks.
The special education needs (SEN) department and class teachers have measures in place to enhance the learning outcomes of SEN students by offering additional support in group and individual sessions. Individual education plans (IEPs) are in place and parents are involved throughout the whole process.
2016/7 will see the school's first cohort begin their A' Level year. As you would perhaps expect the school has exceptionally small class sizes at its top end, while operating significant waiting lists for most primary years. The distribution will eventually balance out as the school matures.
Leading growth is principal Nigel Melen who has extensive overseas experience having worked in Oman and Saudi previously. Melen has the determined look of someone not going anywhere - someone intent on implementing and driving improvements for quite some time. In fact, Scholars International Academy is we believe very much an up and coming school. Melen has taken the reins after several years of uncertainty but he is clearly someone who can steady and steer the ship into calmer waters. Owned and managed by Scholars International Group, parents should expect the school to run along the same lines as the extremely well respected and long established original Scholars School in Dubai.
Scholars Sharjah has already shown its commitment to improvement through its participation in the BSO inspection. Currently rated satisfactory, we believe Scholars will only improve.
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