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Girls schools: Expert advice

How girls benefit according to experts

It’s no secret that girls and boys learn differently, and that each thrives in different learning environments. Girls’ schools across the world have tapped into this understanding by focusing on the social, emotional and specific academic needs of girls in their approach to education. Single sex education not only gives girls the tools they need to learn effectively, but also provides the opportunity to develop strong friendships and self-confidence.

“When I go to school, I am surrounded by people I want to be with and we’re all learning,” says Juliet Caragianis, a Grade 11 student at Elmwood School in Ottawa, Ontario. With a focus on digital learning, including a one-to-one laptop program and the use of interactive SMART Boards in classrooms, this all-girls’ independent school encourages students to feel comfortable and confident with technology. For Juliet, who writes a weekly blog about student life, technology use is just one way that her school defies many of the stereotypes associated with an all-girls’ environment. “Elmwood also strongly promotes its math and science programs,” she says.

Girls Schools Expert Advice
Bishops College School - Photograph by Christinne Muschi

Math, science and technology targeted for girl

Generally, the belief is that as girls mature faster than boys, they have the advantage when it comes to language and vocabulary skills, whereas boys’ learning styles give them an edge in the sciences. Traditionally, this is accepted as the reason why the scientific and mathematic fields are overwhelmingly male-dominated. The truth is that girls are just as capable of enjoying, excelling at and pursuing careers in these fields – with the right approach. Many girls’ schools offer math, science and technology programs tailored specifically for their students – not to mention the freedom from gender stereotypes associated with these subjects.

According to Elmwood’s Head of School, Cheryl Boughton, at least 50 per cent of the school’s graduates go on to study math and science in university. “Ours is a very enabling environment,” Boughton says. “We provide opportunities for educational risk-taking and we establish supportive learning communities.”

Increased confidence for girls

According to a study released by the University of California, Los Angeles in March 2009, female graduates of single-sex high schools in the United States showed higher levels of academic engagement, SAT scores and confidence in mathematical ability and computer skills than their counterparts at coeducation schools.

The study also showed higher levels of self-confidence among students in girls’ schools, says Meg Milne Moulton, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. “Most girls’ schools offer against-the-grain learning experiences where students take on challenges that they may not have done on their own—and are encouraged to learn from their mistakes,” Moulton says.

Improved concentration and the freedom to be themselves

Not only are single sex schools praised for their tailored approach to learning, they also eliminate distractions and allow students to be their best. Girls’ schools provide an environment where girls can truly be themselves and grow into self-reliant, confident young women.

In the classroom, students are encouraged to express opinions and ask questions, Juliet says. “When you’re in a coed environment, the boys often try to say funny things and the girls try to sound smart,” she says. “Here, our classes are much more relaxed.”

The concentration in the classroom is also improved at an all-girls school, as students are more able to sit still and focus than boys, a result of more serotonin and oxytocin hormones.

Without boys around, Elmwood students are able to focus on doing well in school and making friends—with much less social drama, says Ella Mar, who has one daughter in Grade 12 at the school and another who recently graduated. But the girls aren’t without male friends, because that’s an important part of being a teenager.

“During the school day the focus is on academics and not on boys, it’s nice not to have that distraction.”

—Hailey Eisen and Sonja Schweiger

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List of Girls schools: Expert advice


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  •  
  • Name
  • Cost
  • Trafalgar Castle School (est. 1874)   401 Reynolds Street, Whitby, Ontario, L1N 3W9
    (Brock Street / Hwy. 2)

    • 5 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (140 students)
    • Boarding school (70 students)
    Located just 45 minutes east of Toronto, Trafalgar Castle School offers world-class curriculum in a small-school environment that inspires and encourages growth. * Day and boarding * All Girls * Grades 5 to 12  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    $21,860 to $52,230 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 21860 10-17 Whitby,

    St. Margaret's School (est. 1908)   1080 Lucas Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia, V8X 3P7

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (220 students)
    • Boarding school (130 students)
    St. Margaret's School (est. 1908) is an independent school in Victoria, BC, offering empowering education for girls from JK to Grade 12. At SMS, girls don't just get equal opportunity; they get every opportunity.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $9,500 to $49,300 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 9500 3-17 Victoria

    Elmwood School (est. 1915) Open House: Feb 01   261 Buena Vista Road, Ottawa, Ontario, K1M 0V9
    (Buena Vista Road / Springfield Road)

    • Preschool to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (375 students)
    Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from JK to Grade 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $12,956 to $22,980 /year
    Day Girls 12956 2-17 Ottawa,

    Branksome Hall (est. 1903)   10 Elm Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1N4
    (Bloor Street East / Mount Pleasant Road)

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (834 students)
    • Boarding school (66 students)
    Branksome Hall is an all girls school in Toronto, from JK to Grade 12, including 56 boarding students. Tuition ranges from $28,995 to $31,245 for day students.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    $29,590 to $56,855 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 29590 3-17 Toronto,

    Hawthorn School for Girls (est. 1989)   101 Scarsdale Road, Toronto, Ontario, M3B 2R2
    (York Mills / Leslie)

    • Nursery/Toddler to SK (Coed)
    • 1 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school
    • Homestay school
    Hawthorn School is an all-girls school in Toronto that offers programs from toddler to grade 12. Our unique mentoring program is tailored to each girl to help them reach their full potential.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Accelerated
    • Christian
    $10,000 to $31,400 /year
    Day Coed Girls 10000 1-17 Toronto,

    Heritage (est. 1984)   5600 Heritage School Dr, Provo, Utah, 84604
    (Heritage School Dr / River Run Dr)

    • 7 to 12 (Boys)
    • 7 to 12 (Girls)
    • Boarding school (115 students)
    Heritage offers expert care for at-risk adolescents including those diagnosed with Mood Disorder, depression, anxiety, defiance towards authority figures and those on the Autism Spectrum. Learn more on our website.  
    • Progressive
    • Student- paced
    • Troubled Teens, Special needs
    • Spanish immersion
    US $138,000 /year
    Boarding Boys Girls 138000 12-17 Provo,

    Collège François-Delaplace (est. 1963)   365 Compton Street East, Waterville, Quebec, J0B 3H0
    (Rue Compton / Rue Principale)

    • 7 to 12 (Girls)
    • Boarding school (200 students)
    COLLÈGE FRANÇOIS-DELAPLACE is a private Traditional / academic boarding school in Waterville, Quebec. The school offers programs for grades 7 to 12 with enrolment of 200 boarding students.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    • French immersion
    • Christian
    • Sports-intensive
    $7,950 to $30,300 /year
    Boarding Girls 7950 12-17 Waterville,

    Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (ON)   3761 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Minesing, Ontario, L0L 1Y0

    • 7 to 12 (Boys)
    • 7 to 12 (Girls)
    • Homestay school
    Venture Academy is a therapeutic treatment and education program for students who may be struggling with ADHD, learning challenges, underachieving, behavioural issues, and a variety of clinical diagnoses.  
    • Traditional
    • Student- paced
    • Troubled Teens, Special needs
    Varies /year
    Boys Girls 12-17 Minesing

    Havergal College (est. 1894)   1451 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario, M5N 2H9
    (Lawrence Avenue West / Avenue Road)

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (860 students)
    • Boarding school (50 students)
    Havergal College is an all-girls school in Toronto for students in JK to Grade 12. Preparing Young Women to Make a Difference Since 1894.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $30,820 to $55,500 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 30820 3-17 Toronto

    Trafalgar School For Girls (est. 1887)   3495 Simpson Street, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 2J7

    • 7 to 11 (Girls)
    • Day school (140 students)
    • Homestay school
    Based in the heart of downtown Montreal, Trafalgar School for Girls is a diverse school community that challenges and inspires girls to love learning, build confidence and shape a better world.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    $15,875 /year
    Day Girls 15875 12-16 Montreal

    St. Clement's School (est. 1901)   21 St. Clements Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1G8

    • 1 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (470 students)
    St. Clement's School develops outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $28,350 /year
    Day Girls 28350 6-17 Toronto

    Sacred Heart School of Montreal (est. 1861)   3635 Atwater Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, H3H 1Y4
    (Atwater / Docteur-Penfield)

    • 7 to 11 (Girls)
    • Day school (230 students)
    The pre-eminent All Girls English Catholic high school in Montreal, with 156 years of experience graduating young women of action with solid skills and tools for success.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    • Christian
    $13,764 /year
    Day Girls 13764 12-16 Montreal,

    Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School (est. 1909)   525 Mount Pleasant Avenue, Westmount, Quebec, H3Y 3H6

    • K to 11 (Girls)
    • Day school (325 students)
    Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School offers programs from kindergarten to grade 11 in Westmount, Quebec. Its average class size is 18 students.  
    • Progressive
    • Accelerated
    • French immersion
    $19,150 to $20,440 /year
    Day Girls 19150 5-16 Westmount

    York House School (est. 1932)   4176 Alexandra Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6J 2V6

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (656 students)
    York House School offers programs from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in Vancouver. Its average class size is 16 to 20 students.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Standard- enriched
    $19,600 to $23,100 /year
    Day Girls 19600 3-17 Vancouver

    Crofton House School (est. 1898)   3200 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6N 3E1

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (885 students)
    Crofton House School in Vancouver, BC is a university preparatory school with JK to grade 12 classes. Tuition starts at $16,000.  
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    $18,960 /year
    Day Girls 18960 3-17 Vancouver

    Buffalo Seminary (est. 1851)   205 Bidwell Parkway, Buffalo, New York, 14222
    (Soldiers Circle / Chapin Parkway)

    • 9 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (178 students)
    • Boarding school (47 students)
    Independent day and boarding school for college-bound girls. Our STEAM curriculum is unique, and creative, independent thinking is valued. Located in Buffalo, NY, girls access the best of city living.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • Accelerated
    US $19,840 to $46,715 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 19840 14-17 Buffalo,

    Oxford Tutorial College (est. 1988)   12 King Edward Street, Oxford, n/a, OX1 4HT
    (n/a / n/a)

    • 11 to 12 (Boys)
    • 11 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (10 students)
    • Boarding school (10 students)
    Oxford Tutorial College is a leading independent college specialising in A-level and GCSE tuition for students grade 10 to 12, intending to go on to higher education at a good British University.  
    • Progressive
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    • Special needs , Gifted
    • Spanish, French, German immersion
    $33,255 to $39,447 /year
    Day & Boarding Boys Girls 33255 15-17 Oxford,

    Study (est. 1915)   3233 The Boulevard, Westmount, Quebec, H3Y 1S4
    (The Boulevard / Place Breaside)

    • K to 11 (Girls)
    • Day school (365 students)
    The Study offers a bilingual mother tongue programme in both English and French from kindergarten to grade 11 in Westmount, Quebec. The average class size is 12 to 18 students.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $18,415 to $20,735 /year
    Day Girls 18415 5-16 Westmount,

    Queen Margaret's School (est. 1921)   660 Brownsey Avenue, Duncan, British Columbia, V9L 1C2
    (Brownsey Avenue / Government Street)

    • 8 to 12 (Girls)
    • Preschool to 7 (Coed)
    • Day school (250 students)
    • Boarding school (90 students)
    Queen Margaret's School is an independent co-ed day school Preschool to Gr. 7 and all girls day/boarding school for Gr. 8-12 in Duncan, BC.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    $5,100 to $52,400 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls Coed 5100 2-17 Duncan,

    Villa Maria (est. 1854)   4245 Decarie Boulevard, Montreal, Quebec, H4A 3K4
    (Av de Monkland / Boulevard Décarie)

    • 7 to 11 (Girls)
    • 7 to 7 (Boys)
    • Day school (1400 students)
    Villa Maria offers programs from grades seven to 12 in Montreal. Its average class size is 28 to 32 students.  
    • Traditional
    • Standard- enriched
    • French immersion
    • Christian
    $4,175 /year
    Day Girls Boys 4175 12-16 Montreal,

    Bishop Strachan School (est. 1867)   298 Lonsdale Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1X2
    (Bathurst St / St Clair Ave W)

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (825 students)
    • Boarding school (80 students)
    Located in Toronto, The Bishop Strachan School is Canada's oldest independent JK to Grade 12 day and boarding school for girls, welcoming students from Toronto and around the world.  
    • Traditional
    • Reggio Emilia
    • Student- paced
    • Christian
    $31,190 to $59,100 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 31190 3-17 Toronto,

    Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (BC)   2040 Joe Riche Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1P 1G7

    • 7 to 12 (Boys)
    • 7 to 12 (Girls)
    • Homestay school
    Venture Academy is a therapeutic private school providing educational and clinical support services, individualized instruction and engaging interaction to get students back on track and restore confidence.  
    • Traditional
    • Student- paced
    • Special needs , Troubled Teens
    Varies /year
    & Homestay Boys Girls 12-17 Kelowna

    St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School (est. 1891)   1080 Linbrook Road, Oakville, Ontario, L6J 2L1

    • Preschool to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (550 students)
    Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Graduating Year since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything.  
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    • Gifted
    • Christian
    $9,000 to $26,300 /year
    Day Girls 9000 2-17 Oakville,

    Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie (est. 1905)   628, chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montreal, Quebec, H2V 2C5
    (chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine / Avenue Claude Champagne)

    • 7 to 11 (Girls)
    • Day school (1050 students)
    • Boarding school (60 students)
    École secondaire francophone privée pour jeunes filles située à Outremont, Qc. Les frais de scolarité sont de 3 800 $ par année. Elle offre les profils Éducation internationale, Danse-études et Musique-études.  
    • Liberal Arts
    • International Baccalaureate
    • Standard- enriched
    • French immersion
    • Arts-intensive
    $4,000 to $9,150 /year
    Day & Boarding Girls 4000 12-16 Montreal,

    Holy Name of Mary College School (est. 2008)   2241 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, Ontario, L5H 2K8
    (Mississauga Rd / Dundas St W)

    • 5 to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school
    Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, is an independent Catholic school for girls in grades 5-12 offering an enriched university preparatory programme. The average class size is 12 students.  
    • Progressive
    • Accelerated
    • Christian
    $16,350 to $44,500 /year
    Day Girls 16350 10-17 Mississauga,

    Joan of Arc Academy / Academie Jeanne d'Arc (est. 1954) Open House: Feb 08   2221 Elmira Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 1H3
    (Iris St / Woodroffe Ave)

    • JK to 8 (Girls)
    • Day school (108 students)
    In our all-girls environment, academic achievement in both official languages is the norm. A Joan of Arc Academy bilingual education prepares the women leaders for the challenges of tomorrow. Come and see the difference.  
    • Progressive
    • Gifted
    $14,825 /year
    Day Girls 14825 3-13 Ottawa,

    Linden School (est. 1993) Open House: Jan 25   10 Rosehill Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4T 1G5
    (Yonge / St. Clair)

    • JK to 12 (Girls)
    • Day school (115 students)
    The Linden School provides a challenging academic program for girls from JK - Grade 12. We create opportunities to discover the joys of learning and foster the development of critical thinking and physical well-being.  
    • Progressive
    • Standard- enriched
    $14,000 to $19,400 /year
    Day Girls 14000 3-17 Toronto,