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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. Read more


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List of all-girls' schools

 
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Ottawa, Ontario — Elmwood School is Ottawa's pre-eminent school for girls from PreK to Gr. 12. Our high academic standards, small class sizes and safe, supportive environment ensure that each girl is inspired to reach her full potential. View School Profile.


  • Recognized for academic excellence
  • Welcoming, inclusive and diverse community
  • International Baccalaureate World School (PYP, MYP, DP)
  • Round Square and Apple Distinguished school
  • Merit- and need-based scholarships available
Grades:
PS to 12 (Girls)
Type:
Progressive, International Baccalaureate
Tuition:
$14,800 to $28,300
Living:
Day
Enrollment:
370
Avg. Class:
15 to 17
Elmwood School 14800 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
 
 

Toronto, Ontario — St. Clement's School develops outstanding women who are intellectually curious, courageous, and compassionate. View School Profile.


  • Girls' school, founded in 1901
  • Enriched and balanced academics at all grade levels
  • Unrivaled Advanced Placement course offerings
  • 100% university acceptance
  • Extensive athletic, arts, and co-curricular programs
Grades:
1 to 12 (Girls)
Type:
Liberal Arts
Tuition:
$31,900
Living:
Day
Enrollment:
460
Avg. Class:
16
St. Clement's School 31900 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
 
 

Toronto, Ontario — Branksome Hall is Toronto’s only all-girls, all-years International Baccalaureate (IB) World School. View School Profile.


  • 13-acre downtown campus
  • Athletics and Wellness Centre
  • IB programs: JK to Grade 12
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Tennis courts, playing fields, saltwater pools
Grades:
JK to 12 (Girls)
Type:
Liberal Arts, International Baccalaureate
Tuition:
$34,650 to $69,850
Living:
Boarding/Day
Enrollment:
964
Avg. Class:
12 to 22
Branksome Hall 34650 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Spadina/St Clair Ave W
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $33,830 to $64,090

The Bishop Strachan School is a leading independent JK-Grade 12 day & boarding school for girls. Students build the academic skills to thrive at university and beyond. Over $1.6 million available in financial assistance.

  • Boarding/Day
  • Progressive
The Bishop Strachan School 33830 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Day Girls
  • Montreal, Quebec
    Atwater/Docteur-Penfield
  • 7 to 12 Girls
  • $17,355 to $58,374

Since 1861, The Sacred Heart School of Montreal, the city’s only all girls English Catholic high school, has been graduating exceptional leaders. We offer grades 7 to 12, day school and boarding.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
The Sacred Heart School of Montreal 17355 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Boarding Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Lawrence Avenue West/Avenue Road
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $35,000 to $64,000

Havergal College has been preparing young women to make a difference since 1894.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Liberal Arts
Havergal College 35000 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $15,980 to $65,125

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.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
St. Margaret's School 15980 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls
  • Oakville, Ontario
  • PS to 12 Girls
  • $19,000 to $29,280

Oakville's SMLS continues to be a premier independent school for girls Preschool to Grade 12 since 1891. "Millie" graduates take on the world with confidence and the knowledge that they can do anything.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School 19000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    York Mills/Leslie
  • NS to 12 Girls/Coed
  • $14,100 to $25,250

Hawthorn School is located in Toronto. We offer a co-ed toddler-SK program and an all girls program for grade 1- grade 12. Our unique mentoring program is tailored to help students reach their full potential.

  • Day/Homestay
  • Liberal Arts
Hawthorn School 14100 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Homestay Girls Coed
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Mississauga Rd/QEW
  • 5 to 12 Girls
  • $18,750

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Holy Name of Mary College School 18750 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Westmount, Quebec
    Mount Pleasant Avenue/Cedar Avenue
  • K to 11 Girls
  • $19,050 to $22,160

Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School is a Tier 1 school for girls in Kindergarten through Grade 11, located in Westmount, Quebec. For every girl who has a mind of her own, we have a school to nurture it.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School 19050 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Iris St/Woodroffe Ave
  • JK to 8 Girls
  • $16,175

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.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Joan of Arc Academy / Academie Jeanne d'Arc 16175 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Girls
  • London, Ontario
    Richmond Street/King Street
  • 9 to 12 Girls/Coed
  • $21,200 to $26,000

A Canadian Private Secondary Boarding school, located in the heart of London, Ontario. LIA is authorized to grant the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.

  • Boarding
  • Traditional
  • International Baccalaureate
London International Academy 21200 HighSchools Boarding Boarding Girls Coed
  • Whitby, Ontario
    Garden Street/Hwy. 2
  • 4 to 12 Girls
  • $24,270 to $65,615

Trafalgar Castle offers a close-knit, academically challenging environment where girls feel a strong sense of belonging and discover their unique talents and interests.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Liberal Arts
Trafalgar Castle School 24270 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Girls

The Study  

  • Westmount, Quebec
    The Boulevard/Place Breaside
  • K to 11 Girls
  • $21,750 to $24,250

The Study, founded in 1915, is one of Canada's premier all-girls' school. Dedicated teachers offer a warm and stimulating bilingual mother-tongue environment from kindergarten to grade 11. The World Needs Great Women.

  • Day
  • Progressive
The Study 21750 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $25,200

With over 120 years of excellence in all-girls’ education, our rigorous academic program is complemented by strong arts, design technology and athletic programs. Financial assistance is available.

  • Day
  • Progressive
Crofton House School 25200 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge/St. Clair
  • JK to 12 Girls
  • $23,150 to $29,450

The Linden School is a socially-progressive community where innovative best practices in girls’ education promote and strengthen student voice, well-being, academic excellence, and global engagement.

  • Day
  • Progressive
The Linden School 23150 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Girls

“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.

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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 percent 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

Series: Girls Schools

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