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THE OUR KIDS REPORT:
Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School

Grades K TO Gr. 12 — Okotoks, AB (MAP)

Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School:
THE OUR KIDS REPORT
REPORT CONTENTS:

Pages in this report:

School address

  • RR 2, Okotoks, Alberta, T1S 1A2 (MAP)
  • Busing available (View details)

School Busing:

STS offers bus transferring. Service options offered are regular rider, regular rider AM only, regular rider PM only, occasional rider.

The regions STS offers busing from are:

  • Calgary
  • Okotoks
  • Chestermere
  • Priddis
  • De Winton
  • High River

Additional notes: Daily bus services are available, and routes are customized each year based on whole school enrollment. Kindergarten-Grade 6 students are supported with a stop location within 500m safe walking distance of their home address. Grade 7 -12 students are supported with a stop location within 1000m safe walking distance of their home address. The average ride time on the bus, one way is ~40 minutes.

Our Perspective

How we see Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School


Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School became a school, by that name, in 1971, though its history stretches back more than a century. It is essentially an amalgamation of three schools that excelled in different ways: St. Hilda’s School for Girls, Strathcona School for Boys, and Tweedsmuir: An Academic School for Girls. The current school motto, Nil Nisi Optimum, “nothing but the best,” was originally used by Tweedsmuir: An Academic School for Girls, as was the black watch tartan uniform—in that and other traditions that remain in place reflect the founding schools long, shared histories.

The amalgamation came at a time of economic growth due to a boom in oil and gas exploration in the region. Each school was outgrowing its footprint, and so looked to combining forces. The world, too, was changing, and the move to a co-ed academic atmosphere was equally emblematic of the time. The newly minted Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School also moved to a sizable parcel of land, where the school remains today.

In time, the school would continue to grow its curricular offerings, including Advanced Placement courses, the adoption of Round Square, and the growth of the International Baccalaureate program. STS was also an early adopter of digital technologies in the classroom. Those things are an expression of perhaps the most important tradition that STS expresses, namely that of looking ahead, being flexible, and working to adapt the program to student needs. The ideal student is one who will thrive in a large, vibrant, and challenging academic environment.

School's Perspective

Compare with:  

How Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School sees itself


The school administration answered our questions

Who are you, as a school?

"STS is a Kindergarten to Grade 12, World IB School. Students flourish through well-balanced programming and enriched learning on our 220-acre campus minutes from Calgary, guided by talented and caring teachers. STS students become global citizens, embracing social responsibility while striving for success in all that they do. In addition to a rigorous academic curriculum, students experience a wide variety of co-curricular activities and benefit from a supportive community, rooted in our school's 118-year history."

  • Founded in 1905
  • Spectacular country setting
  • Alberta Education Curriculum (Kindergarten-12)
  • Superior outdoor education program
  • Excellent university placement
  • Professional, caring staff
  • International Baccalaureate School
  • Round Square School
  • Member of CAIS and NAIS

What do you do differently and uniquely well?

"1. Teachers are genuinely interested in their students at STS. Our school is a community and each individual student matters, is known, and is supported to flourish during their time at STS.
2. Our campus is a global hub in a natural setting; outdoor education and experiential learning is infused into every grade level throughout the year.
3. Student are guided to realize their purpose and calling in life; we do more than just prepare for post-secondary education. We flourish"

Why do you think families choose you over schools they compare you to?

"1. STS provides every student with committed and talented teachers who intentionally nurture lasting one-on-one relationships.
2. Personalized learning and support services help foster academic excellence and also promote a sense of balanced well-being for every student.
3. State of the art facility and outdoor learning in an expansive natural setting means that students have the best possible opportunities to be outdoors daily for field research, sports, arts, play and reflection."

What might families find surprising about your school?

"Our school builds connections beyond the classroom and actively promotes a positive community for students, parents, alumni, and staff. Most people understand that there is an inherent benefit to being a member of a school community. STS has a long, proud history resulting in an alumni network willing to help the families find belonging and success in their lives. The size of this community combined with many notable individual accomplishments sets STS apart from any other school in our area."

What aspect of your school is underappreciated?

"Parents and students often miss how much support is provided, both academically and emotionally, to ensure that students flourish and reach their full potential while here. Dedicated teachers, counselors, learning strategists, and school leaders are in our hallways, classrooms, acting as coaches, mentors, and leading our outdoor education experiential learning trips. This means your children are truly known, and get to see themselves as appreciated individuals in our community who belong at STS."

What five facts about your school tell your story?

"1. Kindergarten to Grade 12 continuum IB World School
2. 100% of students earn acceptance to post-secondary education in Canada, the USA, or at global institutions
3. 90 different co-curricular club and sports teams offered for various grade levels
4. 100% of students participate in community service initiatives during their school year
5. A 220-acre campus supports experiential outdoor education and learning opportunities at every grade levels"


School Facilities

Photo-tour of facilities


Athletics facilities


Arts facilities


Campus


Classrooms


Science facilities


Shared spaces


School Videos

Insider Perspectives

How people from the school’s community see Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School


Video reviews of Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School

Alum, Jason Fong (2021)

Watch our alum interview with Jason Fong to learn about the unique experience of attending Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School.

School leadership

Top-down influence on the school’s direction and tone


Message from school leadership

Mrs. Carol Grant-Watt, Head of School
M.A., B.Ed.

As Head of School, I am enthusiastic about creating meaningful opportunities and dwelling in possibility. Saying Yes to Your Best is a commitment that STS students, teachers, parents, alumni and staff illustrate each and every day. Rooted in our School's motto, Nil Nisi Optimum, or nothing but our best, this commitment to becoming your best self develops a genuine empathy and care for others, combined with an insatiable curiosity, and the courage to say yes to new adventures, discovery, possibility, belonging and future-preparedness. This is what sets STS apart. 

Great schools exist with a strong, vibrant community, and a shared priority for the well-being and educational success of our students and alumni. We are proud to welcome exceptional students from across the globe, with a wide array of backgrounds, interests, and talents. I fervently believe in the importance of creating impactful and personalized learning opportunities, both in the classroom and through a diverse co-curricular program, and I can assure you that our dedicated teachers and staff are focused on ensuring your children have access to all they need to succeed and flourish. 

I can think of no higher priority than the future of our children, and my vision is that as a team at STS, we contribute to moving them forward in their journey towards their hopes, dreams, and goals. We will do so in a respectful manner, honouring the individuality and diversity of our community. As we prepare to deliver on a new strategic plan and inspire commitment, trust, and belief in our collective abilities to change the world for the better, I say to you, the future is bright. 

The STS spirit and ethos are infectious and inspiring. We have a history of innovation, tradition and extensive collaboration with the community, and we will continue to build on our humble roots, be unapologetic in our pursuit of academic excellence, and continue to offer a myriad of experiences to nurture the spirit and passion of our students. As the educational landscape is rapidly changing, it is imperative that we stay current, protect our core and ensure our young charges are cared for, ready for the challenges and opportunities that today presents as well as an exciting future. 

I have never been more optimistic about our ability to deliver a rigorous and relevant educational experience for current and prospective students, and I give you my word that I will continue to work tirelessly to provide the best environment for your children. 

Evaluate Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School for your child

Answer just to supplement this page with our expert insight into the FIT between Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School and your child (BETA).
1. Select category
1. Select category
  • Sociability
  • Mental focus
  • Physical activity level
  • Academic focus
  • Arts-oriented
  • STEM-oriented
  • Gifted
  • Special needs (general)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Social/emotional issues
  • Learning style
  • Learning preference
  • Anxious
  • ADHD
  • Autistic
  • Dyslexic
2. Select child's dominant trait
How outgoing is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Extroverted kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Most big schools provide your extroverted child with plenty of social opportunities and the ability to interact with different peer groups with a wide range of personalities, interests, values, etc. A larger student population and more extracurriculars—including activities like team sports, arts programs, and debate—will give them a broader scope of opportunities to participate in events that scratch their interpersonal itch. “This may also give them the opportunity to hone certain skills,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “For instance, they might run for student council to develop leadership and public speaking skills and learn to be a voice for other students.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP)—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which can be great for extroverts who often enjoy social and collaborative learning. Also, “Since IB schools have a strong emphasis on community service and activism, your child will have great opportunities to harness their outgoing and collaborative personality,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. These schools will also give your child the chance to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. 

    However, given the challenging curriculum and heavy workload of the IB, it can sometimes leave less time for socializing. This makes it especially important to ask about social opportunities at the school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, both in class and out.

How Introverted kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Make sure any prospective school, no matter what size, provides the right social environment to help your child feel at home, make friends, and develop confidence. This is especially important at big schools, which are sometimes more socially overwhelming and challenging for an introvert to find their bearings in. Of course, “Because larger schools usually have a more diverse student population, introverted kids are more likely to find a small group of people like them, a peer group they can relate to and find acceptance from,” says Dona Matthews, Toronto-based education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence.

    Bigger schools often have a broader scope of extracurricular activities, which is another way to help your child meet the right group of friends. “This may also give them the opportunity to develop certain skills,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “For instance, they might run for student council to develop leadership and public speaking skills and learn to be a voice for other students. Remember, though, each child is different—so what works for one may not work for another.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools give your child the opportunity to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. Due to the IB’s heavy focus on group work, the programme offers a social and collaborative learning environment, which can help your introverted child overcome their shyness and get to know their peers well. This can relieve some of the pressure associated with having to take the initiative outside of class to make friends.

    Just make sure any school you're considering offers enough independent work time for your introverted child—something which can vary widely between IB schools.

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2. Select child's dominant trait
How mentally focused is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Mentally focused kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If you’re considering a big school for your mentally focused child, look into the size of its classrooms. Many kids, including focused ones, do better in smaller classes, which not all big schools have. Smaller classes often provide ample individualized learning and one-on-one support, which can boost your child’s engagement.

    Also, ensure a school’s teaching approach is suitable for your focused child. “For instance, a school emphasizing group learning over individual learning may or may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s attention skills and personality.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools focus heavily on group work, and provide plenty of collaborative and social learning, which many mentally focused kids find stimulating. Just make sure this is the right environment for your particular child, since different kids learn in different ways. For instance, if your child prefers individual to group learning, make sure the school provides plenty of opportunities for your child to work on their own. Or, if they’re likely to benefit from personalized teaching and enrichment, make sure these options are available.

How Distractible kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If you’re considering a big school for your distractible child, look into its classroom sizes and teaching and learning approach. Distractible kids often do better in smaller classrooms with plenty of individualized learning and one-on-one support, as this can help them sustain their concentration.

    Also, “Ask what strategies a school has in place to engage and motivate students,” says Stacey Jacobs, Toronto-based education consultant at Clear Path Educational Consulting. “For instance, do they have flexible seating and innovative furniture?”

    Bigger schools tend to have a wider range of extracurriculars to choose from, which can help your child to pursue an interest or develop a passion. And, “Research shows that when students have something to look forward to after school, they’re often better able to focus during the day,” says Janyce Lastman, Toronto-based education consultant at The Tutor Group. “This can really help them renew their energy and recharge their batteries.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB’s heavy focus on group work, and its highly social and collaborative learning environment, can help your child sustain their focus. That said, some distractible kids may need more individualized learning and one-on-one support than some IB schools offer. “Since different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, Toronto-based education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “talk to IB school directors and staff to determine whether your child is a good fit.”

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2. Select child's dominant trait
How physically active is your child?

3. See personalized insights
How Very physically active kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Big schools tend to provide an especially wide range of opportunities for your physically active child to use their energy in productive ways, such as individual and team sports, hiking, and nature walks. In most big schools, they’ll also be given plenty of breaks throughout the day for physical and gross motor activities, such as outdoor recess in the playground. Since different kids enjoy different kinds of physical pursuits, find out exactly what activities a school offers, both in class and out.

    Also, ensure a school’s teaching and learning approach is suitable for your active child. “For instance, a school focusing on individual learning instead of group learning may or may not play into your child’s strengths,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “You want to make sure the social, emotional, and academic realities of the classroom are a match for your child’s personality and energy level.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme to the Diploma Programme—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which can be great for physically active kids, who tend to dislike sitting down at desks all day and often enjoy social and collaborative learning. Given the demanding curriculum and heavy workload of the IB, ensure any prospective school has ample unstructured social time, so your child can get out, stretch their legs, and use their energy in productive ways. Also, ensure there are a wide range of social and physical opportunities at the school, including the ability to interact with different peer groups, both inside of class and out.

How Less physically active kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If your child is looking to get more physically active, they’ll benefit from the wide range of extracurriculars at big schools, such as sports and nature walks. In addition to improving their physical and mental health, these activities can help them broaden their horizons and come out of their shell.

    Just make sure any prospective school, no matter the size, provides the right academic and social environment to help your less active child focus on their work and feel like they belong. This is especially important at big schools, which sometimes have bigger classes (with less one-on-one support) and can be more socially overwhelming. That said, the bigger the school, the more diverse the student body (in terms of personalities, interests, etc.), which can make it easier for your child to find a group of like-minded peers. 

  • International Baccalaureate school

    If your child is looking to get more physically active, IB schools offer plenty of opportunities to do this. From PYP (Primary Years Programme) to DP (Diploma Programme), the IB offers a robust physical and health education program that promotes physical activity and holistic health, through sports, exploration, interaction, skills, and knowledge. 

    IB schools also give your less active child the opportunity to learn and interact with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them. Due to the IB’s heavy focus on group work, the programme offers a highly social and collaborative learning environment, which can help your child get to know their peers well, interact more, and hone their social skills. Given the IB’s focus on social learning, just make sure your child will get enough time on their own, in and out of class, to replenish their energy.

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2. Select child's dominant trait
How focused is your child on school and academic achievement?

3. See personalized insights
How Intensively academically-focused kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Many big schools offer high-level courses as well as subject-specific enrichment and acceleration opportunities, which some academically-focused kids find stimulating. Most also have plenty of academic diversity in the classroom, where your child will find many opportunities to challenge themselves in groups with like-minded peers. “Many academically-focused kids enjoy competition in the classroom: they like to measure themselves against peers with high academic aspirations,” says Janyce Lastman, Director of The Tutor Group. “They’re more likely to find this in big schools with big classes.”

    Also, “Due to their large numbers of students, bigger schools offer more opportunities for reflection and collaboration with one’s peers, and to learn from the perspectives of different students, in class and out,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. Having a larger and more diverse pool of students can be a catalyst for intellectual and creative progress (and even breakthrough insights!).

    That said, make sure your child will be able to register for their desired courses in a big school. While big schools often have a wide range of core and specialist courses on their docket, sometimes logistical issues—such as scheduling and timetables—make it challenging for them to run some courses or for your child to enrol in them.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB is a demanding programme with advanced learning and rigorous coursework, which provides the right kind of challenge for many intensively academically-focused kids. Students who enjoy subject-specific enrichment will relish the opportunity to take Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) courses, which provide more in-depth learning. Ask a school whether it offers these courses.

    That said, since their curriculum is restricted to eight prescribed subject groups, IB schools will offer your academically-focused child fewer specialist courses to choose from than most traditional schools. This can be less than ideal for independent and curious learners, who enjoy carving out their own educational paths and pursuing their own interests in school.

How Less academically-focused kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If you’re considering a big school for a less academically-focused child, look into its classroom sizes and teaching and learning approach. Smaller classrooms with plenty of individualized learning and one-on-one support can help kids really engage with their school work, regardless of their level of academic interest.

    Bigger schools normally have a wide range of specialist subjects to choose from, which can help your child pursue an interest or develop a new one. Just make sure your child will be able to register for their desired courses in a big school, since sometimes logistical issues—such as scheduling and timetables—make it challenging for these schools to run some courses or for your child to enrol in them.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB programme’s high-level academics and heavy workload can be a tall test for less academically-focused kids. Some of these kids may also need more individualized learning and one-on-one support than some IB schools offer. Of course, “Since different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, Toronto-based education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “talk to IB school directors and staff to determine whether a particular school offers the right academic setting for your child.”

    That said, many kids, including less academically-focused ones, find the IB’s heavy focus on social and collaborative learning engaging. This can inspire a love of learning and sometimes begin to unleash a child's academic potential. 

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2. Select if applicable
Is your child passionate about the arts?

3. See personalized insights
How Arts-oriented kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If you’re considering a big school for your arts-oriented child, make sure it offers them plenty of opportunities to explore their creative impulses. Ideally, it will have some smaller classes with plenty of individualized teaching and learning, since this will give your child more flexibility to pursue their interests and get one-on-one support to refine their skills.

    Since big schools have larger student populations, they often have more arts programs, classes, productions, and staff than smaller schools. They also tend to offer more supplementaries, like after-school musical theatre classes or field trips to art museums.

    Finally, “Due to their large numbers of students, they offer more opportunities for reflection and collaboration with one’s peers, and to learn from the perspectives of different students, in class and out,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. “This also allows kids to understand the contributions they can make to the larger student community, such as being a musician in an orchestra, an actor in a play, or a dancer in an ensemble.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum, the IB programme provides plenty of opportunities for your child to pursue their interests in the arts, explore their creative passions, and develop their skills and knowledge. In fact, how we express ourselves is one of the central themes running through the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). And, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a rigorous education in myriad artistic spheres, including visual art, music, dance, and drama.

    That said, “There’s some variation in the way IB programmes are run and what resources they have,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “If you have a child who’s passionate about the arts, make sure, then, to tour the school, and ask about its arts programs (music, visual, and drama) and the resources and time dedicated to them.”

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2. Select if applicable
Is your child passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)?

3. See personalized insights
How STEM-oriented kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since big schools have larger student populations, they often have more STEM programs, classes, and specialty teachers than smaller schools. They also tend to offer more STEM-oriented supplementaries, like after-school robotics classes or field trips to science museums. And, “Due to their large numbers of students, they offer more opportunities for reflection and collaboration with one’s peers, and to learn from the perspectives of different students, in class and out,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services. Having a larger and more diverse pool of students can make it easier to produce valuable insights and have creative breakthroughs.

    Ask prospective schools about their class sizes. Smaller classes with plenty of individualized teaching and learning give students more flexibility to pursue their interests in STEM and get one-on-one support to refine their knowledge and skills.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum, the IB programme provides plenty of opportunities for your child to pursue their interests in STEM and develop their skills and knowledge. In fact, how we explore and understand the world is one of the central themes running through the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). And, the Middle Years Programme (MYP) provides a rigorous education in myriad scientific spheres, including physics, biology, and chemistry. Since many students also relish the opportunity to study these subjects in more depth by taking Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) IB courses, ask whether a school offers them.

    That said, “Many IB schools are highly academic and can generate significant pressure to excel,” says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Some students may find their passion for STEM recede in this setting.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have gifted learning abilities?

3. See personalized insights
How Gifted kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Some big schools provide learning environments that explicitly address the needs of gifted students. These can include dedicated gifted classes, part-time withdrawal classes, enrichment opportunities, acceleration options, and in-class adaptations. Big schools also usually have a wider scope of curriculum options and extracurricular activities that can provide gifted learners with the challenge and stimulation they need across a range of topic areas. Finally, they tend to have more academic diversity in their student bodies, helping your child find like-minded peers as well as opportunities to challenge themselves with other intellectual, curious, and high-ability learners.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The IB programme is designed to be demanding, well-rounded, and rigorous, and it can provide a great challenge for many high-ability students. Gifted students may also relish the opportunity to take Higher-Level (rather than Standard-Level) courses, which provide more in-depth learning. Ask whether an IB school offers these.

    That said, if your gifted child is an unconventional and independent learner, they may find some IB schools don’t give them enough flexibility to pursue their own interests. “Of course, different IB schools have different teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, gifted education expert and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Being Smart about Gifted Education, “meaning you should talk to their directors and staff to determine whether your child is a good fit.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have special needs?

3. See personalized insights
How Special needs (general) kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with special needs require special attention, ensure any prospective school has small- to medium-sized classes with plenty of structure, individualized learning, one-on-one support, and properly trained special education staff. Also, ask exactly what kinds of special needs support a school provides. For instance, while it's unlikely to provide modifications to the curriculum, does it offer accommodations, and if so, for which special needs?

    Some big schools provide learning environments that explicitly support students with special needs. These can include dedicated special needs classes, integrated classes, and regular classes with in-class adaptations and breakout groups. Many also provide a range of out-of-class resources to promote your child’s academic and social development, such as robust guidance departments, academic and psychological counselling, social work, tutors, and faculty advisors. And some have designated resource/learning centres for students with special needs, as well as various in-house support staff, like speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and reading specialists.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with special needs. Also, due to their unified curriculum and focus on collaborative learning and group projects, not all IB schools can provide the kind of structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support many of these kids need.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child’s learning.”

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Does your child have a learning disability?

3. See personalized insights
How Learning disabilities kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with learning disabilities (LDs) require special attention, ensure any large school has smaller classes (ideally 15 students or less) with plenty of structure, personalized learning, and individual support. Also, look into exactly what kinds of LD support it provides. “While many big schools provide accommodations, such as extra time for tests or assignments, few provide a modified academic curriculum,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Consulting.

    Some big schools provide learning environments that explicitly support students with LDs. These can include dedicated classes, integrated classes, and regular classes with in-class adaptations and breakout groups. Many also offer a range of out-of-class resources to promote your child’s overall development, such as academic and psychological counselling, social workers, tutors, and faculty advisors. 

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with learning disabilities (LDs). Also, due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on collaborative learning and group projects, not all IB schools will provide enough one-on-one support for kids with LDs. 

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child’s learning.”

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2. Select if applicable
Does your child have a social, emotional, or behavioural issue?

3. See personalized insights
How Social/emotional issues kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with social issues require special attention, ensure any prospective school has small- to medium-sized classes with plenty of structure, individualized learning, one-on-one support, and properly trained special education staff. Also, ask exactly what kinds of support a school provides both in class and out. For instance, does it provide intensive one-on-one counselling for kids with anxiety?

    “Big schools can be challenging for students who experience anxiety or other emotional and mental health issues,” says Una Malcolm, Director of Bright Light Learners. “Their large student population can contribute to anxiety and worries, and may make it more difficult for teachers to monitor their well-being.”

    Some big schools provide learning environments that explicitly support students with social issues. These can include dedicated classes, integrated classes, and regular classes with in-class adaptations and resource support. Many also provide a wide scope of resources to promote your child’s development, such as educational assistants, resource teachers, counsellors, social workers, and support groups.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support that many kids with social issues need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can add extra pressure, which can be difficult for kids with special needs to manage.

    Of course, “Since IB schools vary in their teaching and learning approaches,” says Dona Matthews, education consultant and co-author (with Joanne Foster) of Beyond Intelligence, “make sure you talk to their directors and staff to assess whether your child is a good fit.” For instance, if your child is a hard worker who enjoys high-level academics and group learning (and doesn’t have a severe social or behavioural issue), an IB school may work well.

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2. Select child's dominant trait

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How Conventional learner kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Big schools vary in the classroom environments they offer. Size isn’t nearly as important as the teaching and learning approach that individual teachers use in meeting the needs of a conventional learner. 

    Here are some things to look for: 

    • A traditional classroom setup (teacher at the front facing the students) 

    • Whole-class lectures 

    • Plenty of structure

    • Graded work and clear criteria for assessment

    Conventional learners tend to do well in learning environments with all or most of these features. However, since learning preferences differ even among these students, ensure a school provides what your child needs.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB schools offer a standardized, prescribed curriculum, with clear criteria for assessment, which can be ideal for conventional learners. They also provide a nice balance of group and independent learning, delivered through rigorous courses, which can help conventional (and unconventional) learners really engage with their studies. 

    That said, IB schools tend to have plenty of reflection, exploration, and diverse experiences. They encourage students to look at questions and issues from many viewpoints, and they have long projects and extended essays. Conventional learners who are type-A  students (i.e., who are intensively academically-focused) often prefer to move through the curriculum more quickly, rather than spend so much time reflecting about various sides of an issue.

How Unconventional learner kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    If you’re considering a big school for an unconventional learner, make sure it offers them plenty of independent learning opportunities. Ideally, it will have some smaller classes with lots of individualized teaching and learning, since this will give your child more flexibility to pursue their interests and explore their passions.

    Big schools normally have more extracurriculars for kids to probe different areas of interest, from painting to robotics to creative writing. Also, due to their large numbers of students, they offer more opportunities to find a group of like-minded peers to learn and grow with, in class and out.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB Programmes can sometimes be a struggle for students who resist a traditional curriculum. Since they follow standardized course syllabi and use prescribed evaluation schemes, IB schools leave less room for the kind of flexibility unconventional students normally crave. Also, since their curriculum is restricted to eight main subject groups, IB schools offer fewer specialist courses to choose from to explore individual interests. 

    That said, IB schools tend to have plenty of reflection, exploration, and diverse experiences. They encourage students to look at questions and issues from many viewpoints and have long projects and extended essays. Some unconventional learners love this kind of collaborative, open-ended approach to learning.

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How Independent learner kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Make sure a big school offers your child plenty of independent learning opportunities. Ideally, it will have some smaller classes with individualized teaching and learning, giving your child more flexibility to pursue their interests and develop their skills. With more classes and student cohorts, big schools can often accommodate a wide range of learning styles, including independent learning. Some also offer greater access to guidance and resources to help students subject choices and independent pursuits.

    Since big schools have larger student populations, they often have more extracurriculars and after-school programs. Whether it’s art, STEM, or coding, your child will have more opportunities to continue their unique learning path outside of class.

    Finally, “If your independent learner is a competitive student who likes to measure themselves against their peers, they’re more likely to find this in a big school,” says Janyce Lastman, Director of The Tutor Group. “Since they have diverse student bodies, it will be easier for your child to find peers with high academic aspirations to compete with.”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    IB programmes, from the primary years (PYP) to the high school years (DP), offer lots of group work, projects, and activities. This can be challenging at times for kids who prefer to work independently, completing tasks by themselves or in their own way. On the other hand, “Collaborative endeavours can be valuable learning experiences for kids who might otherwise avoid such tasks,” says Joanne Foster, education consultant and author of ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids. Since different IB schools are run in different ways, talk to school directors and staff to gauge whether your child is likely to be a good fit.

How Collaborative learner kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Big schools vary widely in their learning environments and approaches. While some stress collaborative learning and provide lots of group activities, others don’t. That said, with many classes and diverse student cohorts, big schools can often accommodate and nurture a wide range of learning styles, including collaborative learning.

    Since big schools have larger student populations, they often have more extracurriculars and supplementals for students to pursue group learning activities like debate and student government. Also, “Due to their large numbers of students, they offer more opportunities to find a group of like-minded peers, in class and out,” say Ann and Karen Wolff of Wolff Educational Services.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Throughout the continuum—from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Diploma Programme (DP)—the IB offers plenty of group work, projects, and activities, which collaborative learners tend to love. Also, “Since they have a strong emphasis on community service and activism, your child will have many opportunities to harness their collaborative learning style,” says Stacey Jacobs, Director of Clear Path Education. Finally, IB schools give your child the unique opportunity to interact and spend time with a bright, motivated, and ambitious group of kids who may have interests similar to them.

    That said, the IB programme’s high-level academics and heavy workload are demanding. If your child is less academically-focused or needs lots of one-on-one support, they may find it a tall order. Since IB schools are run in different ways, talk to directors and staff to determine whether your child is likely to be a good fit.

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Is your child anxious?

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How Anxious kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with anxiety require special attention, ensure any prospective school has small- to medium-sized classes with plenty of structure, individualized learning, one-on-one support, and properly trained special education staff. This is especially true if your child has a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

    “Big schools can be challenging for students with anxiety,” says Una Malcolm, director of Bright Light Learners. “Navigating a large student population and lots of relationships can compound issues with anxiety. And it’s sometimes more difficult for teachers and administrators to monitor students’ well-being in this setting.”

    That said, many big schools provide a wide scope of resources to support anxiety (and other mental health issues), such as educational assistants, resource teachers, psychologists, social workers, and support groups. Ask exactly what kinds of support a school provides, both in class and out. For instance, does it provide counselling for kids with a social anxiety disorder or selective mutism?

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the structure, individualized learning, and one-on-one support many anxious kids need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can be a source of intense pressure for kids with anxiety, especially those with severe anxiety.

    Of course, if your child has milder anxiety and is a hard worker who enjoys high-level academics and group learning, the IB Programme can be a nice fit. Speak to school reps about what support systems they have in place before you make your final decision.

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Does your child have ADHD?

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How ADHD kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with ADHD require special care, ensure any prospective school has smaller classes (ideally 15 students or less) with plenty of structure and one-on-one support to help them stay focused on their studies. Also, ask exactly what kinds of support a school provides both in class and out. For instance, “do you have an in-house psychologist who can help my child with their impulse control?”

    “Big schools can sometimes be challenging for students with ADHD,” says Una Malcolm, director of Bright Light Learners. “Navigating a large student population and lots of relationships can sometimes be a distraction which interferes with the ability to focus in class. And in a big school with bigger classes, it’s sometimes more difficult for teachers to monitor students’ well-being.” 

    The upside is most big schools offer a range of support for children with ADHD (and other special needs), such as educational assistants, resource teachers, psychologists, social workers, and support groups. They also tend to offer many supplemental activities to give your child physical, cognitive, and creative outlets, and to enable them to hyperfocus on areas of interest (which many ADHD kids enjoy).

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the individualized learning and one-on-one support many kids with ADHD need. Also, the highly academic environment of the IB can add extra pressure, which can be daunting for some kids with ADHD.

    Thus, “It’s important that a child in an IB school stay organized and engaged with the content, especially with independent work and homework,” says Una Malcolm, director of Bright Light Learners. “With both the depth and breadth of IB-level coursework, it’s important that students have developed the self-regulation and self-monitoring skills necessary to focus in class to avoid falling behind.”

    On the upside: “Many IB schools, especially at the primary and middle school level, offer a fair amount of experiential, inquiry-based learning, where students develop creative and critical thinking skills through real-life, hands-on experiences,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “This type of learning can sometimes be a great way to engage kids with ADHD.”

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Is your child autistic?

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How Autistic kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) require special attention, ensure prospective schools have smaller classes with plenty of structure and one-on-one support, run by qualified special education staff. Depending on where your child falls on the spectrum, they may need a learning environment with direct support for ASD, such as a dedicated ASD class or a regular class with targeted ASD support. 

    Many big schools offer a wide range of resources to support kids with autism (and other special needs), such as educational assistants, psychologists, and social workers. Ask what’s available, focusing specifically on your child’s needs. For instance, “do you have an in-house psychologist who can help my child with their social skills?”

  • International Baccalaureate school

    Due to their standardized curriculum and focus on group learning, not all IB schools can provide the individualized learning and one-on-one support many kids with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) need. Also, the highly academic nature of the IB Programme can be daunting for some kids with ASD, especially those with poor executive functioning skills.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies they have in place to support your child.”

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Is your child dyslexic?

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How Dyslexic kids fit with STS's dimensions:
  • Big school (151+ students)

    Since kids with dyslexia require special attention, ensure any large school has smaller classes (ideally 15 students or less) with plenty of structure, personalized learning, and individual support. Also, ask exactly what kinds of resources it has to support your child. For instance, “do you have a reading intervention specialist to help my child work on their phonic decoding?”

    Some big schools provide learning environments that explicitly support students with dyslexia. These can include dedicated classes and regular classes with in-class adaptations and breakout groups. Many also offer a range of out-of-class resources to promote your child’s overall development, such as academic and psychological counselling, social workers, tutors, and faculty advisors.

  • International Baccalaureate school

    The heavy workload of IB schools can be difficult to manage for some students with dyslexia. Also, due to their standardized curriculum and their focus on collaborative learning and group projects, some IB schools may not provide enough one-on-one support for kids with dyslexia.

    That said, the IB organization requires authorized schools to have specially trained staff in both IB education and in meeting the needs of different learners. But, “What this looks like and how students are supported varies between schools,” says Stacey Jacobs, director of Clear Path Educational Consulting. “Ask what specific programs and policies a school has in place to support your child’s learning.”

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