Fairgreen International School opened September 2018, and is an IB continuum school and integrating sustainability into its academic programmes.
The story so far...
Fairgreen International School was established by ESOL Education, an established provider in the UAE who formally managed two highly rated schools in Dubai Festival City and are the owners of the American International School in Abu Dhabi. ESOL has also launched its US curriculum Dunecrest American School this year. Fairgreen follows a modified all-through IB curriculum, integrating sustainability into its educational programme. It claims to be the UAE's first truly sustainable school, although it is not alone in pushing its greener credentials.
The Swiss International Scientific School Dubai was the first to promote the sustainable nature of its campus, while Fairgreen is joined by the Arbor School in going one step further in not only promoting a sustainable campus, but also integrating sustainability into the curriculum itself via student projects. These projects will become considerably more sophisticated as the student journeys through the school.
Fairgreen, unlike the UK curriculum based Arbor school, is an IB continuum school, offering the IB Primary Years Programme, and Middle Years Programme, to be followed by the Diploma Programme and, crucially in terms of providing a concrete pathway into the sustainability sector, the Careers Related Programme for Grades 11 and 12.
The opening of Fairgreen was not without minor hiccoughs. Although planned to open at The Sustainable City, the school's owners announced in June 2018 that although the school would open on time, it would not open at its own campus. The campus construction completion dates had been updated to November 2018. Fairgreen, therefore, opened in September 2018, operating from an interim campus, sharing facilities with its sister school, Dunecrest American School, near Al Barari, about 15 minutes away from The Sustainable City (TSC).
The Fairgreen community was apparently supportive of the solution that Fairgreen and Esol Education devised. Fairgreen’s Director, Graeme Scott, shared, “We remain committed to doing everything possible to deliver an exceptional education to our students. Our teachers are of the highest quality and will ensure that care for students, high quality learning, collaboration, and the development of character and positive values will remain unhindered".
Graeme Scott, together with other members of the Leadership team, has serious credentials.
Mr. Scott brings 30 years of international experience to the position, having started his teaching career in Northeast England before moving overseas to assume senior leadership positions at International Baccalaureate schools in the Netherlands and Bangkok.
More specifically Scott was the Deputy Head of the International School Bangkok (ISB), Thailand's oldest international school and still its most expensive. Prior to arriving at ISB, Fairgreen's Director served for seven years as Head of School at the International School of The Hague in the Netherlands.
In addition to a Bachelor of Education from Sheffield Hallam University and an Advanced Diploma of Educational Management from Leicester University Mr. Scott is also completing his Masters in Applied Educational Leadership with the University College London.
“Fairgreen International School has been designed... to develop articulate, caring, global citizens. Innovation and creativity are non-negotiables, with children encouraged to be courageous and to think differently.”
Mr. Scott is backed up by quite a weighty leadership team that also includes Peter Daly, who was the Founding Principal of North London Collegiate School (NLCS) Jeju, a school that achieved the badge of outstanding from Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) from its first year of opening. The curriculum coordinator, Samantha Fern was the PYP Coordinator within IB Continuum schools in Vancouver, Canada, Copenhagen, Denmark and Panama City, Panama.
What about the curriculum?
Fairgreen International School follows the IB continuum, but with a very specific focus on sustainability.
Fairgreen clearly takes advantage of its location within Dubai Sustainable City, tailoring the IB continuum program to integrate "a unique sustainable education curriculum" making use of the facilities around it.
The school says it wants to play a leading role in helping the UAE achieve its sustainable development goals (SDG’s) as outlined in the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the Dubai Plan 2021 and the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs.
“As Esol’s first sustainable school, and one of a few around the world, the Fairgreen International School project initiates an important and necessary evolution for K-12 education,” Mr. Walid Abushakra, Esol Education Chairman.
The school intends to incorporate "hands-on project-based learning, research-supported teaching methods, technology initiatives and worldwide partnerships with leading experts and organizations in sustainability-related research and practice."
In terms of partnerships, Stephen Ritz, author of the critically-acclaimed book “The Power of a Plant,” has been brought in to help with the "Health, Wellness and Learning Centre", based in one of The Sustainable City’s bio-domes (pictured above) that has been dedicated to the school.
The centre uses STEAM (using Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking) to enable students to reach a deep understanding of good nutrition in relation to their own wellness, through organic and sustainable food production technologies, including solar-powered vertical farms, aquaponics, and other urban farming techniques.
It also promotes the concept of “farm to table,” selecting local ingredients, cooking at home as a family, avoiding processed foods, and adopting exercise for life. It aims to give "students a blueprint for well-being that will continue to serve them for the rest of their lives."
Interestingly, Fairgreen is also part of the Stanford Pre-Collegiate International Institutes, which will allow a selected number of its older students (14 years upwards) to experience college-life at Stanford, one of the world’s top-ranked universities. Students are exposed to university level content and teaching style, and to interact with students from around the world.
Like other UAE IB schools, Fairgreen will also take part in the Model United Nations, and the school says that there is a strong focus on performing arts and fine arts programmes.
What about the facilities?
The campus has been designed for "minimal environmental impact", using solar power "for all its energy needs", recycling all its water for agricultural use, and implementing waste separation.
However the focus on reducing its carbon footprint does not translate into a smaller footprint altogether. Facilities at the school are impressive and include:
The school clearly believes in an all-round education and aims to offer:
However, not all of these will be offered on Day 1, "highly qualified teachers" coming on board "as the school grows".
What about fees?
Fairgreen International, while a premium school, has not pegged itself as an 'ultra-premium' in terms of fees.
Fees are in line with The Arbor school, and mid-range in terms of IB continuum schools, with KHDA approved fees ranging from AED 50,000 at KG and rising to AED 88,000 at Grade 12. However generous discounts, ranging from 25 to 35 percent, are available for founding parents who join within the first three years. It is not clear what will happen to those discounts for founders after this point.
Fairgreen International School is open for Pre-K through Grade 9 classes in 2018-19, with the aim to grow to over 1,000 students by 2025. Sustainable growth indeed...
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