REVIEW OF Christ Church Cathedral School BY parent, Lindsay Loomer
- Date of Review
April 13, 2023
- Child 1
Gr. 6 - Gr. 8 (Male, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. 1 - Gr. 3 (Male, Current Day Student)
(5) Student Experience
We had a wonderful experience at Christ Church Cathedral School (CCCS). Despite starting in the middle of the pandemic, when everything was far from “normal”, our two boys received a warm welcome from students, teachers, and the school community. Our boys have made wonderful friends and received an excellent education from teachers who really care about them. Because the school community is close-knit, there is a high level of pastoral care and the staff gets to know each child individually. As pandemic restrictions have lifted, we’ve enjoyed getting to know other parents through volunteering, and chatting at community events like the Christmas banquet and the Halloween dance. We wish there were a Sr High option — we would stay at CCCS all the way through for sure!
(5) School Leadership
The school leadership has set an excellent tone for student behaviour at school that is respectful, inclusive, compassionate, honest, and responsible. In our experience with the senior leadership team, discipline issues are taken seriously, but also fairly, and with a view to the long-term character development of the students. We see how invested they are in helping students make a positive impact on the world. If we had to make one comment, it would be the fact that being a smaller school, despite staff handling issues as discreetly as the situation calls for, it is sometimes hard to avoid feeling that everyone knows everyone else’s business at school.
We have had really good experiences with the teaching and EA staff at CCCS. The school is very blessed to have experienced, passionate teachers and educational assistants. Our sons have also really enjoyed working and playing with the gap year students that have been at the school from the UK for the past two years. Some communication was a bit more challenging during the pandemic (with no opportunity for face-to-face meetings, for example), but on the whole, we have found the level of communication to be good overall. The school looks for best efforts from the kids, and encourages them to do their best work, but they are also there to support them with any additional assistance that might be needed. We have seen both of our sons thrive and gain confidence in this setting — for us, it has been just the right balance of challenge and support.
The school offers a robust academic program for students K-8, and in our opinion, really punches above its weight academically given its size. It has been our experience that many of the lessons really “stick” with the kids, even years later. In his Grade 1 year, our son nearly knocked us over one day telling us everything he learned about the Mariana Trench! He loves sharing what he has learned that day — whether it is a cool science experiment, a new song he learned in music or a helpful trick he learned in math. Our eldest son has also enjoyed the upper-level curriculum, which has included forays into the works of Edgar Allan Poe, different sports like pickleball and billiards, as well as exploratory subjects such as improv, cooking, first aid, and outdoor survival skills. The school is currently limited in its ability to grow in size and scope of offerings due to a lack of physical space — they have simply outgrown the existing space. The addition of the new portable building for the upper-year students has helped somewhat, but the overall space constraints are long-term issues that the CCCS board is actively working on. We feel very confident that our boys will be well-prepared for their next steps after they graduate from CCCS.
Given its smaller population, CCCS does very well giving students opportunities for extracurricular activities. We hope swimming lessons will make a post-Covid return, but in the meantime, our sons have enjoyed taking part in ski days, track and field, cross country, volleyball, and basketball. There are also opportunities to participate in math challenges, computing competitions, and science fairs, as well as other intramural sports that our sons have not yet signed up for. The school also organizes student and family travel events that teach students skills about traveling and enjoying learning about life in other parts of the world.
As a parent, and in general, the CCCS community is “just right” in terms of size, feel, and spirit. The older students help to mentor the younger students in reading, moving over to the cathedral for chapel, going on community walks, or running activities for the younger students during holidays (such as St Patrick’s Day and Halloween). There are community-focused groups and various interest-based clubs that build connections between students, as well as opportunities to play intramural sports or band together. Class sizes are small, so students get to know other students quite well. They also have a built-in motivation to get along with each other because they are with the same classmates each day — and for some students, that may also mean every year from preK through Grade 8!
(5) School Life
Our kids have been very happy at CCCS. They have made some great friends and have had some wonderful teachers. They have done interesting and meaningful work (and far less “busy work” — worksheets, coloring, copying, etc. — than has been our experience at other schools). They look forward to going to school and to spending time with the friends they have made there. If you have a child interested in music, CCCS has an excellent music program in the school, and in the cathedral next door. The Young Chorister program is one of only a few such programs in North America, and in addition to offering students a comprehensive musical education, also offers a scholarship to assist with tuition. There is a lot of talent at CCCS!
We joined the school in the middle of the pandemic, so the school community life was not operating as it normally would, but everyone still made their best efforts to reach out to new families like us. It was not really possible for parents to be in the school at that time, and many of the usual social events and meetings had to be postponed, so it was a little harder to get to know other families as well as teachers and staff. Since restrictions have eased, it has been much easier to meet and get to know other families — either volunteering on the PAC, helping out at the Christmas dinner or spring fair, or asking fellow parents on the class Facebook page what the spelling words for the week were.
(4.5) School Location
The school sits right next door to the beautiful Christ Church Cathedral, which is centrally located in Downtown Victoria. Christ Church Cathedral School itself has a playground, a new soccer pitch, and a basketball court on its grounds, but the students often go out with teachers for community walks, or on field trips to the museum or nearby beaches. The school sits uniquely near downtown amenities and attractions, but also amid tree-lined residential streets with a wide mix of housing types.