“As educators, one of the most important questions we face is how we prepare our children for tomorrow when innovation is such a defining construct,” says Kumar Verma, COO of Dubai-based educational provider Scholars International Group (SIG). “At Scholars International Group, as we sought inspiration to serve our children better, we found it in the most intuitive of places: the children themselves.”
Verma has now embedded a cultural ethos that supports meaningful and challenging learning, based, as he says, on “a collaborative and mutual learning process between the teacher and student.”
The quest for the most up-to-date teaching methods is something that Verma freely admits has driven SIG in the past, along with the majority of its competitors, but it isn’t always enough. “We took on the latest teaching trends and programmes, but the gains were marginal,” he says. “The power of innovation already exists so strongly in our children, and we soon realised that all we have to do is nourish it.”
A respected institution
SIG is one of the most long-established and respected education groups in the UAE, having opened Dubai Scholars Private School in 1976. Since then, it has opened Scholars International Academy and, most recently, Clarion School, which launched in September 2016 offering a progressive American education.
Dubai Scholars Private School consistently ranks in the top percentiles globally at IGCSE level and its graduates have gone on to study at prestigious universities including Cambridge, Oxford and the LSE in the UK, and Brown and Columbia in the US. The school’s experience and success have been the foundation for SIG’s newer institutions.
Clarion School, which currently caters for children from pre-kindergarten to Grade 4, is a culmination of SIG’s aims and ambitions. “With Clarion, we seek to be the leading school in the Middle East and North Africa region,” says Verma. All class teachers are required to have a master’s degree in their area of specialisation and, while the curriculum aligns to the US Common Core standards, it has been modified to incorporate the local culture and environment. The approach to all aspects of Clarion School, from programming and furniture to gradual grade additions, has been extremely deliberate and intentional.
“We’ve transformed our approach to learning,” says Verma. “We wanted to get away from the one-size-fits-all approach dominated by KPIs and rubrics, and to look back to a time when learning was more personalised and driven not by bureaucratic dictates, but by the teacher. We believe that 95 per cent or our schools’ value is driven by the quality of the teaching.”
In everything SIG does, the success of its pupils comes back to the belief that they hold the key to their own futures. “Innovation for us has been a journey, not about thinking of something new but remembering something old,” says Verma. “We needed to step away from the hubris that learning is confined to within our school walls. Instead, it’s something that happens within every child. Innovating is just igniting
what is already in each child.”