In a constant search for a consistent and thorough innovation, Colégio de São José has opened an International Section implementing the CLONLARA SCHOOL educational model (grades 1 to 12). 

Clonlara is a non profit private school based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, that has great flexibility, adapting itself to the individual interests of each student, to their capacities, to their working paces in a close connection to their families. 

With Clonlara School, students will have personalized individual paths based on the Education Standards from the State of Michigan and Portugal. 

Organized in multi-age groups, Youngers (grades 1-5), Middles (grades 6-8) and Olders (9-12) they work individually or in small groups, under the supervision of a tutor. 


The Clonlara School philosophy is that a school must empower learners to participate purposefully and eagerly in their own education. We believe that learning begins with curiosity. Our experience in providing an open environment that fosters creativity has confirmed our belief that children learn best when their interests guide their activities.

Clonlara facts:

– Years in Operation: 50
– Countries with Students Enrolled: 40
– International Offices and Affiliates: 11
– Accreditations: 3

Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, 
National Council for Private School Accreditation, 
Accreditation International

program features:

• Tailored Education Plan 
In Clonlara, teachers work with their students and families to design an individual curriculum for each child, having in mind their interests, capacities and the education standards.

• Full Circle Learning Model
Clonlara’s FCL Model, supported by different researches, encourages students to ask questions and discover answers about topics that capture their attention, leading them to deeper understandings.

• Multiage classrooms 
Small groups of 10 to 15 students will form a social learning community and be able to explore their interests through group collaboration and individualized projects at their own pace.

• Community Engagement 
To craft an educational plan that balances academics with participation in social activities, Clonlara encourages fieldtrips, volunteer work and local community involvement.

This group includes 6 to 10 -year-old children. A typical school day is divided into a variety of different moments: scheduled classes (Languages, Maths, Music, Physical Education); project time, enrichment activities, field trips, educational games, school-wide events and group discussions. Project work takes place in a common space where multi-aged groups develop skills in cooperating, helping, sharing and solving problems. They develop intricate behaviours of planning, balance and strength.

The years between the ages of ten and thirteen are a time of great changes and growing self-awareness for young people as they begin to grow aware of their peers and the world around them. Through an association of academic projects, games and themes, we help students nurture their growing self-confidence by encouraging them to contribute their own ideas and allow their questions to guide their learning.

A tailored curriculum

In Clonlara, as in the American model, the Secondary level comprises 4 years of schooling (from the 9th to the 12th) divided into 8 semesters.

This program works with a system of credits where students are required to complete a total of 22 credits to graduate (Carnegie Credit Units: 180 hours = 1 credit unit, 90 hours per semester/ 5 hours per week) are the basis for Clonlara credit).

The syllabus of a Clonlara Student is designed to fit the student’s interests and needs, as well as the family’s expectations, having in mind, among other aspects, the access to higher education.

The Clonlara program comprehends the following mandatory academic areas: 

Native Language (Portuguese/English)






Foreign Language (Portuguese/English)









Social Sciences







Physical Fitness








Carnegie Credit Units (180 hours = 1 credit unit, 90 hours per semester).

Elective courses are selected attending to:

– Required exams for Upper level studies application

– Student’s skills and strengths (Sports, Art, Music, Science, Languages, etc.)

This system enables to focus on the student’s academic path’s core areas, through a significant reinforcement of the time spent on the preparation for mandatory examinations required for higher studies admission.

Also, the work carried out in strong areas such as Music, Sports, Dancing or Art, can be included in the student’s curriculum, weighting significantly for grade point average purposes, regardless of the study area one wishes to pursue.

The Clonlara days are divided into class times in small groups and moments of autonomous work (individual study, project work, Reading, etc.) under the supervision of a tutor teacher.

Each student has a tutor who provides guidance and support in every stage, from the choice of semester curricular options, to study planning, time management, task completion, credit planning and evaluation. The follow-up tutorial works daily.



The graduation requirements are the same that feature on the curriculum framework. Students who wish to have a Computer Science Endorsement in their Clonlara Secondary School diploma will be required to complete a Capstone project in this subject area as well as 6 credits in Computer Science Electives. 

Credits may be achieved by one of the following methods: 

  • By participating in a class offered on campus. 
  • By participating in any outside activity that the student and advisor find acceptable  as a learning experience.
  • By completing an Independent Study Proposal which the student executes  over the course of the semester under the guidance of a teacher or mentor.

Our Computer Science programme is based on the programmatic framework proposed by the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), which defines the concepts and practices to be developed in this area, identifying learning expectations and essential skills.

Computer Science Electives provided by CSJ:

  • JavaScript / TypeScript
  • Back End

  • Front End
  • Databases
  • Networks

  • Web Design

Frequent Asked Questions

Q: What does 1 credit correspond to?

A: 1 credit corresponds to the work developed in an annual course, with a workload of 5 hours per week, and a final grade equal to or greater than 60%: Carnegie Credit Units (180 hours = 1 credit unit, 90 hours per semester).

Q: Which courses are available in Science?

A: Biology, Geology, Physics and Chemistry.

Q: Which courses are available in Social Studies?

A: History, Geography, Government and Civics.

Q: What are “electives”?

A: Electives are optional courses.

E.g.  additional work on core subjects for exam preparation (Geometry, Philosophy, Computer Science,…); Languages; Science; Art; Music; Sports; Dance 

Q: What are the advantages of joining the Secondary Clonlara Program?

A: There are many advantages:                          

1 – No matter which area of study the student intends to pursue, one is not limited to a prescribed curriculum.

2 – An intelligent choice of the elective subjects allows the student in the Clonlara system to dedicate more study time and more school work to the core subjects without dispersion by nonessential disciplines.

3 – The Clonlara system can integrate the student’s work in very specific areas such as Sport, Dance, Music, Art, etc, for grade point average and approval purposes.

As an example, for high-performance Sport students, Music students in Conservatory, Ballet students in Dancing Academies and others, their work is converted in Clonlara credits, using Clonlara’s evaluation criteria.

4- Every student has a tutor teacher who follows up, advises and monitors the study, the organization and the time management daily. The tutor also plays a key role in helping the student self-assess one’s performance

Q: My child practises Ballet for 12 hours a week. Does she have to do the 1,5 Sports credits at school?

A: No. The work developed at the Dance Academy is converted to Clonlara credits, so there is no need to attend P.E. classes at School, If Dancing is a strong area of the student it may be included in the study plan as an elective discipline and have a greater weight in the final evaluation (Note: This modality requires proof of attendance and apprenticeship in the school / Academy.)

Q: My son/daughter is enrolled at the Music Conservatory, where he/she attends several subjects. Can this work be included in the Clonlara credit plan?

A: Yes. As long as you give proof of registration and evaluation, Music can be included in the syllabus as an elective course, and weigh on the student’s final grade average.

Q: My son/daughter attends a Language School. Can his/her work be included in the Clonlara credit plan?

A: Yes. As long as you give proof of registration and evaluation, Foreign Language can be included in the syllabus as an elective course, and weigh on the student’s final grade average.

Q: Is the Clonlara System recognized by the Portuguese Government?

A: Yes. Upon completing the 22 credits, student graduates from Clonlara and gets a Secondary School graduation certificate. This certificate includes the  grades transcript according to the American system, which is then converted into the Portuguese system according to Ordonnance 699/2006 of July 12.

Q: Is it possible to switch from the Portuguese Secondary system to the Clonlara system at any time?

A: Yes. The evaluations in the Portuguese Secondary system can be converted into Carnegie Credit Units (180 hours = 1 credit unit, 90 hours per semester).

Q: Is it possible to switch from the Clonlara system to the Portuguese Secondary system at any time?

A: Yes. The evaluations in the Clonlara system are converted to the Portuguese system following Ordonnance n. 699/2006 of July 12.

For more information visit

Clonlara Portugal –
Clonlara USA – 
Telephone: +351 239 853 330