Scholars International Academy in Sharjah is set on a seven acre plot located in the new Muwailih school district. From the schools unassuming exterior it could be mistaken for almost any other school in the emirate, however WhichSchoolAdvisor.com believes under the surface this little school has rather a lot that's quite unique going for it.
In Dubai, the name 'Scholars' needs little introduction. The original 40-plus year old school still sends a slew of students annually to the world's top universities- while parents still clamour for places just on the waiting list!
Owned and overseen by the inspirational Aparna Verma the Scholars schools hold solid reputations, employ dedicated and experienced staff and offer consistent and committed leadership from the top down.
While the original school might be decades old, the Sharjah version is a mere 11 years-young. Located in the newish Mweilah School district, the school houses just over 1,000 students.
Interestingly, while the Dubai original employs predominantly Indian teachers, Scholars International is much more of a mix, with many teachers from the UK and Republic of Ireland.
Given the staffing, the new construction and all the additional facilities and resources, Scholars International Academy is slightly more expensive too. Set around mid-price for the UAE as a whole, yet for Sharjah, they're more mid-to premium with prices between 23,500 AED for FS1 up to 36,000 AED for senior years.
Scholars 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, called the ‘Commons’ is possibly the most unique space in the school. This large covered grass area 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 two Sharjah schools to push for an external British Schools Overseas (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.
Although the school website does not publish results in a comprehensive format, it does show that in 2018, the IGCSE student cohort achieved 91 percent A* to C grades, and at A Level 25 percent achieved A* to A, 75 percent A* to B and 100 percent A* to C.
Scholars International Academy's primary section delivers EYFS at Foundation Stage. The National Curriculum for England is taught in years one to four, 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.
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 at Scholars is principal Nigel Melen who has extensive overseas experience having worked previously in Oman and Saudi. 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.
The teaching staff are a mix of nationalities with many hailing from the UK and Republic of Ireland.
At A Level students can choose between; biology, chemistry, history, geography, mathematics, physics, psychology, English language, English literature and business studies.
WSA believes Scholars to be the first school in Sharjah to offer the BTEC qualifications with the launch if its new BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Sport.
Students of all ages regularly participate in; athletics, badminton, basketball, cricket, handball, health related fitness, football, hockey, netball, rounders, rugby, swimming, softball, volleyball and dance.
Scholars offers paid ECAs run by external providers, these including; golf, tennis, football, gymnastics, dance.
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