REVIEW OF Brookes Westshore BY parent, José Tomás Martínez de Pablo
- Date of Review
March 20, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 10 (Male, Current Boarding Student)
(4.5) Student Experience
He enjoys most of the sports facilities, the availability of a gym, an indoor court at school, and the Juan de Fuca recreation center sports field. He has also made good friends, especially with the Mexican students so he is enjoying the multicultural atmosphere. He had a great time on the skiing trip, the weekend camping trip, and is excited about the upcoming surfing trip in May. He does not like the strict rules of the boarding school (being on time for classes and activities, leaving the school always with another student) but of course, we, as parents, are delighted that the rules are strictly enforced. He also complains about the food which he finds monotonous but of course, when you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at school, it is normal to get bored.
(4.5) School Leadership
We are very happy with the school leadership. They keep us informed through the weekly Gazette and via email of every issue. The environment at school looks good to us: they have plenty of activities for the boarding students to keep them busy and involved with the school and the community. Our kid had a small discipline issue in the first term (lack of punctuality and a somewhat too relaxed attitude) and his tutor talked it over with him, reminded him of his commitments, and kept us informed of the development. The dorm parents do a good job overseeing the life of the boarding students.
We are happy with the quality of the instruction. We think our kid receives the support he needs. Of course, he complains about too much homework at times but we do not take his complaints too seriously because we prefer him to be busy and acquire some good work habits. We receive regular information about the academic progress at mid-term and at the end of every term and whenever any issue arises. We met most of the teachers in September when we boarded our kid at school and they looked very competent and enthusiastic. All the teachers, his tutor, and the rest of the staff were very helpful in the first weeks when the new students were settling down in the school and some minor logistic issues arose.
The program at Brookes Westshore looks quite comprehensive for 10th grade. Practical learning and practice seem to be the preferred method rather than just rote learning. Mathematics, science, and language look like the most important subjects in the program although attention is also paid to the rest of the matters: arts, social studies, or physical education. Of course, since the British Columbia curriculum is not exactly the same as the Spanish one, we assume we will need to complete some of the subjects before he returns to his Spanish high school next year: of course, Spanish history and literature and maybe, some minor adjustments in the math and science programs. The experience of working in multicultural groups will certainly be very useful for him in the future.
The offer of extracurricular activities is wide and really attractive. Of course, sometimes not enough people sign up for some of the activities so they have to be discontinued (for our kid, not enough people joined the soccer team so they could not play in the league which was somewhat disappointing). The teacher in charge of the after-school activities is really active and enthusiastic.
The school is relatively small with external and boarding students who seem to get along pretty well. The international students are from only a few countries so we have the feeling that sometimes the kids from one country tend to group together and perhaps there is not much interaction with the other groups. In our case, our kid is the only one from Spain so he tends to hang out mainly with the Mexican students although, of course in the classroom and in after school activities, he interacts both with the boarding and the Canadian students. Perhaps the atmosphere of the student body could benefit from having kids from more different backgrounds although we understand the difficulties of opening new markets and bringing in people from new countries.
(4.5) School Life
The overall quality of student life at Brookes Westshore is great. It is a relatively small school with amazing natural surroundings with brand new buildings and access to recreation facilities nearby. The staff strikes a good balance between keeping the students safe and giving a 15-year-old kid enough freedom to explore the area by himself. Of course, our kid complains sometimes (the teachers are too insistent with the rules, some weekend activities are boring...) but whenever we try to talk with him, he is always busy with his friends waiting for him and never has a minute to talk to us so, although that puts his mother off, we feel he is having a good time. Even in the first weeks of September, when he was settling down and we were afraid life might be a little harder, we never heard him say he did not love it there.
We, as Europeans, are impressed by the involvement of the school with the community. We like how the school staff and the students take into account the needs of the people nearby and the activities they organize with the community in mind. As parents of a boarding student, living in a different continent, our experience of the parent community is somewhat distant although we have had the chance to communicate online with the teachers at the end of the first term and we know the staff is available should any issue arise. We are informed of the varied activities that take place in the school with the families but unfortunately, we cannot attend. However, when school started in September, we accompanied our kid and had the chance to meet most of the staff.
(4.5) School Location
The surroundings of the school are outstanding: wide green areas in the university campus nearby and the beach within walking distance. The 10th-grade students surely venture to explore the neighborhood and even further to downtown Victoria, always accompanied by another student which seems like a very reasonable safety measure for a 15-year-old. They have a curfew which our kid does not like much but looks very sensible to us.
We recall the admission process as somewhat tiresome but not really stressful. Of course, we had to fill in some forms, dig in for some old data like vaccination records, and make sure nothing was missing but it all was smooth. Then came the time for the online interview with the admissions officer which beforehand made us a little anxious. But it was great, we met with him and after a brief introduction, we left him and our kid alone for the interview. We kept waiting for the interview to finish but they had a long relaxed chat and they seemed to get along pretty well. Soon we received the admission letter that, of course, made our son very proud ("See dad, I told you it had been great").