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Hudson College:
The Our Kids Report > Key Insights
Grades JK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)

Hudson College:

Hudson College KEY INSIGHTS

Each school is different. Hudson College'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.

What we know

  • Hudson College's instruction is student-centred, building from individual strengths, talents, and interests.
  • Its curricular and extracurricular programs consider the student experience—what it means to be a teenager or a child participating in the learning environment.
  • It provides a strong focus on writing and critical thinking.
Read our Feature Review of Hudson College

Our editor speaks about the school (video)

Handpicked excerpts

The school was founded in early 2003, and Jeff Bavington, one of its founders, is the head of school. Growing up, he was surrounded by educators—his father, mother, uncles, and aunts were teachers. …. His father was a principal at a large collegiate institute in Scarborough, and many of the ideals that informed his work there were considered alternative for the time, such as a greater attention to individuals and a desire to support all students, not just those achieving in the upper percentiles. Likewise, his father was aware that students could easily become lost within a student body that numbered in the thousands. Jeff was clearly impressed by the work his father did, and brought those best practices to bear at Hudson.

Hudson doesn’t present as the stereotype of a private school, something that parents choose the school in light of or, at times, in spite of. Having graduated from one of the most storied private schools in the country—Lakefield College—parent James Hyslop knows private schools well. … He and his wife toured those schools—the ones with history; exceptional, purpose-built physical plans; and ivy-covered walls. Reflecting on their decision to enrol their child at Hudson, he says, “You realize that … what matters is the kind of staff that Jeff hires. Each teacher is particularly unique. ... They all have very unique interests. ... They all have interesting lives that they bring to the school, rather than trying to get away from the school. They bring that life-experience in. ... We went to this curriculum night, and my response was I really want to go back to the sixth grade.”

Parents who choose Hudson College are less interested in the extremes at the edges of the private education market, and more interested in the foundational elements of a strong academic program and a positive learning experience: consistent social support, a sense of community, the flexibility to address student interests, and a consistent approach to curricular development. 


The school is relatively small, with an annual enrolment in the upper-300s, which is a good place to be. Says Principal Rose Bastien, “The school is big enough, while at the same time small enough, to let kids have a variety of experiences and opportunities.” Students don’t have to be great at sports, drama, or spelling bees—they are just expected to give some of them a try. Certainly, the small size can be a real benefit. Where larger schools institute advisory programs, in a smaller school, and with the right approach, individual attention is more consistent and comes with less effort. Hudson provides a good example. The environment is intimate, with very rich interaction between students and instructors. That sense of belonging is supplemented by the house system. Beginning in Grade 8, the students are placed within one of four houses, and they remain within their assigned house throughout their time at Hudson. The houses are named after four of the major geographical regions of Canada: Maritimes, Great Lakes, Prairies, Rockies. The goal of the house system is to foster a sense of community, belonging, and camaraderie that encourages healthy competition, develops school spirit, and rewards positive actions initiated by students by awarding points for participation in extracurricular activities.


“The class topics are enriched and very interesting,” says Dylan Castle, a Grade 9 student in his first year at Hudson. “And if students are interested in the discussions, they will become engaged and not bored.” Castle is one of those students who is clearly engaged with what’s going on around him, like a light bulb floating in the middle of the room. He takes the TTC to school each day and manages his time from there. And he loves it: both the independence that the school gives him as well as the support.

Henry Le arrived at Hudson in Grade 9, if a bit reluctantly. His sister had been at the school, and while he also was encouraged to enrol there, he admits that he didn’t want to leave his friends. … That changed with Grade 9. He says he began to get a sense of how important the next few years were going to be, coupled with a growing awareness that he maybe didn’t have the skills he would need to really make the best of them. “A big thing was my study habits,” he says. “Being in a large public school, I had really poor study habits.” He says he also lacked the kind of personal attention that could provide the impetus for improving them. The real difference he found, on arrival, was much like what Castle did: this is a place where social currency was, among other things, gained through academic engagement. “Being with teachers who wanted me to succeed” was a new and welcome experience. And he did succeed. He took Grade 12 courses in Grade 11. He joined more teams than he can bring to mind in moment, and also was able to find time to play rep volleyball outside the school. He’s now in his final year, and, frankly, it’s been good. He’ll be going to McMaster next year, and from there into medical school—a level of success that he credits directly to his experience at Hudson.


“Hudson’s co-founder, Jeff, has a philosophy ... it’s not just about academics,” says Principal Bastien. “It’s about friendship, and being able to experience [new things]. … We would never say ‘No, you can’t be part of the play.’ We would find a place for that child. I think that’s the beauty of the school. It’s just a really good place to grow up in. Kids are happy here. And what parent doesn’t want that?”

“Some parents feel academics is the sole purpose to affix as the top priority for a school,” says Bavington. “What they can often forget, I think, is what it was like to be a teenager or a child. You want to do well at school, but you need other things to feel good about, which in turn helps your academics. … Yes, we want to teach them well academically, and to build their academic skill set, but we don’t want to do that in a vacuum of other skills, [such as] leadership skills, public speaking, trying out on an athletic team. … We try to give them every opportunity to be able to try different things.”

“Feeling good about oneself, persevering, facing some adversity and losses,”says Bavington, “those are commonalities across everything they’re doing. … Students will always have a desire to improve. If you put them in the right type of environment—an inclusive environment, one where they can see that the others around them care about their own success, too—they will have a natural want and need to improve themselves.”

Many of the ideals that are expressed at Hudson—the “be yourself” banner over the entryway—are direct expressions of the work Bavington’s father was doing in the 70’s and 80’s. Typical of other private schools that are young and founded by a single person, many of the school’s strengths come from the clarity of vision that Bavington brings.

Bavington’s experience has led to the understanding that “you can’t turn students around immediately, but [rather] through a process of working with them individually, seeing some successes, and then building on those successes; so that part of their academic self-esteem will improve their overall attitude.”


The academic program has been built with the understanding that most children these days won’t have a single career over the course of their working life. … Says Bavington: “What we tell kids, especially in high school, is that the skill set we’re trying to give you—amongst the academic skill sets—is the transferability of different skills. Being flexible, having good communication skills, working well with people, being creative, being able to work independently, but being able to work communally too—because these are the types of things we feel, if you’re in certain sectors or different fields, that are going to be transferable to other sectors or other fields.”

In math, Hudson scores within the top 99.3 percentile nationally. “I love that,” says Bavington, though he’s also quick to make some qualifications. “I don’t want it to be the only barometer of the school. Ultimately, the teacher you put in front of your child that year, the resources you give that teacher, and the overall guiding philosophy that you put in place—those are truly the factors that are going to help your child be successful that year.”

“Part of it is really understanding the individual child,” says Bavington, “but also having the child, as they mature, understand themselves, so they can address what they see as weaknesses. Writing is a good example. It’s a skill you have to practice all the time; it’s very rare to be an automatically good writer. The only way you do it is to constantly practice. And so we give students the opportunity to do that over time.”


The Lower School math program is a case study in how curriculum is assessed and developed at the school.There was a growing sense at Hudson that the math program used in the public system wasn’t meeting the needs of students. That understanding became the impetus for a year-long study on the efficacy of that program and assessment of the various options. Bastien proceeded with an eye to student success and implementation, such as teacher instruction. “The question I asked,” says Principal Bastien, “was, ‘What are the skills needed to help our kids do well in =high school? What skills should our kids have when going into middle school?’” … This reflection resulted in the implementation of Hudson’s Middle School Preparatory Program, which formalizes and consolidates these skills for middle school students in order to better prepare them for high school and beyond.

“Every year we look at one aspect of the curriculum,” says Bastien, using the same process as they did with the implementation of the math program. ... “Last year we looked at science,” she says. “This year we’re looking at language. The focus is writing and critical thinking, as well as enriching the curriculum. I brought in the tiered learning approach, again an American-based program. Rather than simply enriching by going a grade above, you enrich by going deeper.”


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