Branksome Hall logo
Branksome Hall:
The Our Kids Report > Reviews
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)


Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Branksome Hall (2021)

Branksome Hall alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Ali Salahuddin, Lisa Richards, Antonette Barreto had to say about the school.

Video Contents

Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Ali Salahuddin — current parent

Ali is the father of two current students and one alumna at Branksome Hall. All three of Ali’s daughters started at Branksome Hall in Junior Kindergarten. He says the school stands out for its academic strength, making it a ‘no brainer.’ The many opportunities it provides, including international ones, are also significant. But he says the ‘secret sauce’ is the support the school gives to each student.

  • What I’ve learned about Branksome over the years is, number one, how academically rigorous Branksome is. It’s really head and shoulders above other schools in the Toronto area, and maybe in the rest of the country. Part of that has to do with the IB Programme and how much of a rigorous standard that enforces. But it’s also the way that Branksome delivers the IB Programme.

  • The focus on educating girls, making them confident, making them resilient, making them think that everything is possible for them, and they are no less than anyone else, and they can pursue all the same fields as boys do, such as STEM and health sciences. That is fantastic.

  • The school understands every child individually. They understand the needs of each child and the school is prepared to support them in the unique way that each child needs. I would say that is the secret sauce of Branksome: just how nurturing and how supportive it is.

  • We love the fact that Branksome creates these globally minded citizens with all the opportunities that kids have for global engagement, especially in the upper school, such as exchange programs, trips abroad, and just creating that awareness of ‘think globally, but act locally’.

  • I think the school does a great job of supporting the kids with their mental health, and I think that is something that distinguishes the school. Of course, in recent years this has been especially important, but I think the school recognized this need even before the pandemic.

  • My three words for describing Branksome are ‘supportive’, ‘ambitious’ and ‘forward-thinking.’ Their supportive approach sets the school apart. I say ‘ambitious’ because Branksome is at the top of its game. It’s continually investing in facilities, investing in different pedagogies, and different methodologies. And ‘forward-thinking’ because of how the school really invests heavily in things like cutting-edge research around how girls learn best. For example, we have the Chandaria Research Centre. I don’t know of any other school that has a research centre focused on the best ways for girls to learn.

  • What the school does a great job of is creating a partnership between the parents and the school, with the child at the centre of that partnership. It’s not one of those schools where you drop your kids off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, and when you ask them in the car, ‘What did you learn today?’, they say, ‘Nothing’, and that’s that. When you go to Branksome, your child will want to tell you how they’re doing in school, about the different subjects, different field trips, different activities they do. And I think that’s partly a function of the IB Programme, because it’s interdisciplinary.

  • There are so many clubs that you can join. You can start your own club if the one that you want to join isn’t there already.

  • You can go on exchange programs. You can go on service trips abroad. You can do an exchange when you get to Grade 9 with Branksome’s sister school in South Korea. There’s the Duke of Edinburgh program. There are just so many opportunities to get involved in, but it’s up to you to get involved.

  • My advice to new students is to reach out to your peers, because Branksome students have been taught, and have likely experienced it themselves, the warmth that the community around you can give you, the support the community around you can give. The school is very passionate about what they do, and everybody is there to help and will help and wants to help. As a new student, you should never feel that you’re alone, because you are now part of the Branksome family.

  • I think if you’re a prospective family, I would say it’s a no-brainer to go to Branksome. If you look at our academic results compared to the IB Programme grade average globally, ours is far higher. If you look at our OSSD grades, they’re materially higher than average. If you look at the fact that almost all of our girls do go to university, that they all get accepted to university, that’s a pretty amazing statistic. Many of them go to the best universities in the world. Many of them get scholarships to go to the best universities in Canada, in the U.S., and the U.K. So if you judge a school by what kind of graduates it produces, and what those graduates go on to do, I think the proof is in the pudding.

Lisa Richards — alum

Lisa graduated from Branksome Hall in 2002. Lisa has a background in entrepreneurship, the fitness industry, and public relations. She says her experience of coming to the school in Grade 9 surprised her. She found the environment inclusive and welcoming. For her, it defied all the stereotypes of what a private all-girls school would be like. She’s impressed that Branksome valued diversity and inclusion, and put those values into action, even 20 years ago.

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are such a big part of the conversation today, but I can honestly say, even though I was a student there 20 years ago, inclusivity was such a big part of my experience at Branksome Hall, well before it became part of a larger conversation in society. I didn’t come into the private school system until Grade 9, the expectations I had were those extreme ones you see in movies — like, really snobby, rude, rich kids, lobster for lunch. I didn’t know what I was walking into, and that absolutely wasn’t my experience at all. There were people there from various walks of life. Nobody was made to feel any different, no matter where you came from. It was a very welcoming experience, regardless of income, gender, or background. It was a very inclusive experience, and that’s the standard that Branksome has held up consistently for years.

  • One word I would use to describe Branksome is ‘well-rounded.’ One of the things I appreciated the most about my time at Branksome was being able to participate in so many different activities that contributed to who I am outside of my education.

Antonette Barreto — current parent

Antonette is the parent of a daughter who is about to start Grade 5 at Branksome Hall. She joined the school in Senior Kindergarten. Antonette says the school stands out for how it welcomes new children seamlessly, and brings new families into the fold. She also appreciates how it steps up to support families in difficult times, and how the school community feels like an extended family. Antonette says the school teaches students both critical thinking, and a ‘take action’ attitude.

  • Branksome stood out for us for offering a superior education. Branksome just stood a head above every other school we were looking at. On our tour, it seemed like they were very interested in our daughter as an individual, in her interests, and we liked that individualised focus on her. Its overall feel on the campus was very warm and welcoming.

  • At Branksome, the administration, the principals, vice-principals, and all the teachers know my daughter by name. They know her interests. When children come through in the morning, you can see them saying ‘good morning’ to each child and addressing them by name. They’ll ask questions like, ‘How was the hockey tournament on the weekend? How was your swim competition?’ They really know your child, not just academically, but all facets of your child, which very much impresses.

  • When I look at my daughter and her friends from Branksome, they exude a love of learning that I think Branksome has fostered. Branksome fosters not only a love of education, but a love of true learning and critical thinking. It’s the fact they love to hear something, and understand it. Branksome girls don’t just accept a statement like ‘two plus two is four’. They want to know why and how, and it’s across the board.

  • One word I would use to describe Branksome is ‘passionate’. As a school, it is passionate about teaching. They’re passionate in what they believe in, and they ‘walk the walk’ every day with the girls. It is passionate about the latest and current models of teaching the IB curriculum to the girls, at every age and stage from JK to Grade 12.

  • Branksome is a very globally minded school. They look at the world, they see what’s going on, and they implement it locally. Things happen around the world, food shortages, forest fires, animals dying, then all of a sudden the students are saying, ‘Let’s do a food drive here locally, or let’s raise money for wildlife in the Toronto Zoo’. It’s a very progressive attitude, very global-minded and current.

  • One thing that surprised me about Branksome is that it’s a very community-based school. Branksome does a good job of integrating the children. The way they bring them into the fold, in a way where every girl will find friends, and existing students will reach out and introduce themselves and get to know new students coming in. When my daughter came in, in senior kindergarten, she was coming up into a class that had already been together in JK.

  • The way Branksome welcomes new people to the community, that goes for parents, as well. We have a great rep system, we start off the year with socials so new parents can get to know existing parents, and there’s a great ‘buddy system’ in place for new students. It really does feel like an extended family. When life throws us struggles and obstacles, as we all know it does, not only the school but the parent community will rally around and support families who are going through a difficult time.

  • Private school is a privilege, and I think the administration and teachers at Branksome know that. They instil in our students that this is an opportunity, use it, work it to be the best person you can be. So the charity, the attitude of ‘take action’, and the initiatives students come up with to help and support people locally, is amazing. And that comes from what Branksome teaches.


More about Branksome Hall

Back to Branksome Hall overview

Key insights on Branksome Hall

Each school is different. Branksome Hall's Feature Review excerpts disclose its unique character. Based on discussions with the school's alumni, parents, students, and administrators, they reveal the school’s distinctive culture, community, and identity.

See key insights about Branksome Hall

Our Kids Feature Review

The 50-page review of Branksome Hall is part of our series of in-depth accounts of Canada's leading private schools. It provides a unique and objective perspective on the school's academics, programs, culture, and community.

  • Home to the Chandaria Research Centre (CRC), Branksome Hall became one of the rare few school-based research centres of its kind in North America, something that supports and strengthens the academic offering.
  • Branksome Hall sets high standards, and the ideal student is one who shares its core vision and is able to function in a very diverse, challenging, expansive environment.
Read our in-depth review

Our Kids Feature Review video

Learn about Branksome Hall's unique and defining characteristics through this informative video.

Watch the review

More video reviews

Roundtable Q&A (2020)

Watch our Branksome Hall Q&A discussion to gain fresh insight into the school's culture, values, and strengths.

Parent, Clara Mathur (2023)

JK to Gr. 9 (current) — Watch our parent interview with Clara Mathur to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to have a child attend Branksome Hall.

Alum, Nora Hodgson (2021)

Watch our alum interview with Nora Hodgson to learn about the unique experience of attending Branksome Hall.
See all video reviews (4 total)

More written reviews


Alum, Deniz Mutlu (2024)

Gr. 3 to Gr. 12 — I had a wonderful experience at Branksome. I joined Branksome in the 3rd grade and continued until my graduating year. I truly feel like I grew up at Branksome and had the pleasure of being a part of ...


Alum, Sara Akbari (2024)

JK to Gr. 12 — My experience at Branksome Hall overall was wonderful. I had many supportive teachers throughout the 14 years I attended, many of who I model my own current teaching practice after. From my Kindergart...


Parent, Shelly Huang (2023)

Gr. 2 to Gr. 6 (current) — My daughter loves Branksome Hall so much, I remember clearly she told me Branksome Hall and the teachers are the best school in the "universe" at her 1st day of school when she just moved from another...


Next steps to continue your research:

 Add to shortlist

By logging in or creating an account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Information presented on this page may be paid advertising provided by the advertisers [schools/camps/programs] and is not warranted or guaranteed by or its associated websites. By using this website, creating or logging into an Our Kids account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Please also see our Privacy Policy. Our Kids ™ © 2023 All right reserved.