REVIEW OF Cambridge International Academy BY parent, Vijaya Dass
- Date of Review
May 27, 2021
Gr. 8 - 8
(4.5) Student Experience
My children enjoy Cambridge International Academy. They feel safe and comfortable at school. The class sizes are small and that allows for almost one on one learning. However the school itself is spacious. They like their teachers and the activities they are asked to participate in. Due to Covid 19 the teacher to student ratio is 1 to 6 so the school population was lower. At the beginning of the school year, they were able to plan several weekly school trips for the students. The children enjoyed the salmon spawning expedition to Bowmanville's Creek Fish Ladder. There was a visit to Pringle's Farm where they went apple picking. Several other trips included the Toronto Zoo, the Greenwood Conservation Area and the Pickering Museum. There was also an impromptu nature walk where they spotted a beaver building a dam. They also enjoyed participating in a Master Chef weekly activity in school with all of the students.
(5) School Leadership
The principal of Cambridge International Academy is an amazing leader and teacher. She is very approachable, warm and welcoming. She keeps the parents up to date with student life at Cambridge via monthly e-newsletters. She is always available either by phone, email or text. She is very responsive to queries from parents and addresses issues in a timely manner. She genuinely cares about the students, the learning environment and the progress of the child. She understands that different children learn differently and does her best to adjust to the students needs. In fact she goes above and beyond to meet the individual needs of the students. It is especially apparent she has a genuine interest in each student's academic, social and emotional growth.
The teachers at Cambridge are knowledgeable about their subjects. They try to adjust lessons to encourage student interest and learning. They provide timely and constructive feedback to parents. They do not wait for the parent to enquire about progress, they take the initiative to contact the parents. It is clear that they are passionate about teaching and want their students to succeed. They incorporate fun activities to engage the children's interest and learning. They recognise a student's strengths and weaknesses and encourage them by adapting lessons to capitalize on these. They provide good support in the areas where help is required. I am happy with the quality and level of instruction. Students are not held back if they are capable of more. No child is left behind.
Cambridge International Academy follows the Ontario Curriculum. In addition, they incorporate other educational resources to challenge their students and help them to solidify their learning. Teachers conduct experiential learning, use of technology in the classroom, educational resources like the Singapore Math and various other online resources. They also do in depth novel and Shakespearean study. Students are encouraged to participate in various competitions for example, the Public Speaking Idol's contest, Kids Write for Kids by Ripple Foundation as well as the Canadian Commonwealth Essay Writing Contest. Students in Grade 7 & 8 are also encouraged to apply to the Page Program. My daughter had the opportunity to connect with international students. In particular she helped Japanese students to practice their oral English language skills. She really enjoyed meeting international students and learning some Japanese phrases.
My children participated in planning and organizing different activities throughout the year. They were also encouraged to write their own one act play. They learned about scriptwriting, production, blocking. They were very excited about sourcing their costumes and music for the play. Because of Covid 19, most of the extracurricular activities and clubs such as Toast Masters, Jewellery, Robotics, Coffee Cafe were suspended. My children hope that these activities will resume for the 2021 - 2022 school year.
Cambridge International Academy has a small teacher to student ratio of 1 to 6. My children were happy to attend school and got along well with everyone. They felt that they were treated as individuals and their voices were heard, understood and recognised. They participated in a lot of the decision-making processes at the school whether it was the weekly menu for Master Chef or the destination of the school trips. My daughter also had input into the types of novels used for novel study. Because of the 2 lockdowns that occurred in the 2020 - 2021 school year, they were required to transition to online learning using Zoom and Google Classroom. It was a smooth transition from in-class to online. The school day was scheduled so as to optimize learning but also ensure that the student had enough break time to have a happy balance.
(4.5) School Life
Student life is comfortable. The students got to know each other very well as the student to teacher ratio is 1 to 6 as previously mentioned. It created an almost family like atmosphere and children gelled very well. The children felt that they were engaged in learning and could practically apply the lessons learned in Science. For example my son sourced materials to build a hydraulic bridge and also a steam-powered boat therefore bringing theory and practical application together. They worked together with other students to create a T-Shirt quilt. It was used as a student bonding exercise while learning cutting and stitching skills. To celebrate Earth Day the student grew and tended their own vegetables from seeds. In addition they were exposed to coding using the program Scratch to create a dodgeball game. They are currently working on a coin flip to determine and learn about probability.
During this school year, with the restrictions in place there was not a lot of opportunity to come together as parents as the school ensured that it observed all the safety protocols that were put in place by the province. That said, there were some opportunities where parents were involved with school activities for example the Cultural Exchange. Students did a presentation about a country that they researched, brought in props and a national dish. Because of Covid 19, the parents had to rotate the presentations and had kind words of support for each of the student's efforts. Parents are encourage to provide continuous feedback about their child's experience where it is academic or social. We are welcomed to be involved in the life of the school. There are scheduled parent meetings throughout the school year. Cambridge International Academy also offers great flexibility for informal meetings.
(4) School Location
The school is located in downtown Ajax where it is close to a few plazas, the Ajax main library and the Lake Shore. Students are able with parental permission to visit the stores the plaza during lunch, typically to purchase lunch. In instances where they leave the school compound, the teachers/principal ensure that they don't venture out by themselves but rather it is usually a group of them together to ensure safety. The also visit the park when the weather is nice outside.
The admissions process is simple and stress free. Essentially we communicated with the principal asking how Cambridge International Academy could accommodate our children. We visited the school, had a tour of the facilities. We attended their summer virtual open house which really solidified our decision to have our children attend this school as we could tell from the mini presentations by the teachers how passionate and engaging they could be. We completed the registration form. There is no waiting to be informed if your child is accepted. There is also no entrance exam for the children. This really makes the process itself less stressful for the children and the parents as well, because there is no competition with others to enroll. An initial deposit is made which is applied to the year's tuition.