REVIEW OF The Priory School BY parent, Lisa Bagchi
- Date of Review
March 22, 2023
- Child 1
K - Gr. 4 (Female, Current Day Student)
- Child 2
Gr. 3 - Gr. 6 (Male, Day Student)
(4.5) Student Experience
My children both enjoy the friendships they've made at Priory School. Socially in the early years, there is a deep sense of play and fun in the classes and as the students age and conflicts potentially arise, they are tended to with care, calmness, and professionalism. The small size of the school also allows for connection between grades (Covid-19 excepted) which my daughter in particular enjoys immensely - being mentored and now being a mentor herself to younger students. Priory School excels in providing opportunities for these types of leadership and role model activities. My son had only praise and adoration for all of his teachers, every year attended, grades 3-6. During his grade 7 interviews, this was often what he highlighted as his favorite part of being a Priory student.
(5) School Leadership
The stand-out aspect of Priory School Leadership and Administration is without doubt accessibility. Being present daily - DAILY - at drop off and pick up is something so appreciated and cherished by all parents and families. I feel like if I am in need, all I have to do is ask. The accessibility they offer is invaluable. As for discipline issues, I recently had a detailed but second-hand witness experience as such, and the rigor and attention devoted to truth discovery and emotional harm reduction were both impressive and comforting. True professionalism and care on every level.
Both of my children were happy and successful academically. To be honest I did not have to insert myself to any great degree in their academic projects; we discussed/chatted daily about their lessons but for the most part, both of my children understood their assignments, their deadlines (which were not strict per se - now that I have a child in secondary school to compare!) and expectations. In that way, the teaching and path to independence are quite good and felt on pace with their age/capabilities. In contrast to the Leadership and Administration, however, I do not find the teachers accessible, but I do find them responsive. I wish there were more opportunities for Parent/Teacher meetings/conferences; I believe we are down to one annually and that is for ten minutes. I wish we had the same opportunity say, three times a year.
As a family from America who speaks no French at home, I am amazed by how much French my son gained at Priory School particularly since he started Grade 3. While he attended bi-lingual school in the public system before, the caliber of French he received at the Priory was leaps and bounds ahead. I wish there was more curriculum time for Science and particularly, time in the school's impressive laboratory. Covid really threw a wrench into that space and schedule, but I do hope there are plans in place to increase science ideals and projects. The Art program is incredible this year, so fresh and forward, it is a joy to walk through the school and see the creativity our kids get to carve out during their time at school.
I am a parent who believes at this young age, for the most part, a full school day is enough and therefore my kids have only attended maybe one or two activities over the years. There are lots of activities offered for those who desire. As they get older, the opportunity to join in the Drama Production has been very satisfying; joyful even, and I am grateful to the teachers and staff who commit their time and energy to that endeavor.
Priory School's single class per grade cultivates deep relationships, fodder for rich friendships, fun days, and memory-making moments. There is boundless camaraderie to be found at every age at Priory School. There are differences that arise of course and some of them serious and with big feelings, but I learn time and time again that they are treated seriously and always with the student(s) best interest in mind, their place in life in mind, and their station in mind. Being a small school, students are individually known, cared for, and respected. Parents too. Being English/French and an independent school, the population is very rich in its diversity and that is an asset. My kids know all about Lunar New Year, Ramadan, what is means to be halal, what it means to be Jewish - what it means to be someone who is not like themselves yet all the same!
(4.5) School Life
Having the unique experience of transferring my eldest child from another school and having a second child start at Priory School from Kindergarten; I fully see the advantage of this small, cherished community firsthand. Priory School is sweet, and charming, it has the feel and look of a storybook elementary school - and it's not a facade. My kids are getting a great education all while being nurtured and loved. One of the things I love most is that all kids eat the same food (dietary allergies and restrictions excepted). The communal aspect of eating and taking part in the same shared meal is a high point for me. The only thing I do wish for was if the kids went outside for recess in the rain!
I have been an active Parent Volunteer since arriving in 2018; before Covid, there were many events and ways to contribute, particularly in the Potter Boutique which is the school uniform shop run 100% by parent volunteers. As an ex-pat with no family in the country, the Priory Parent community is my family's only source of social engagement! Mirroring the student community, the parent community is rich in diversity, ever-evolving, and inspiring in terms of new ideas and companionship. I love being part of this community and contributing to my children's second home. When making the transfer in Grade 3 for my eldest, I volunteered as much as I could so that his sense of security would be bolstered. And then I never stopped! Even through Covid times, there were lots of creative ways to stay involved (food trucks! outdoor lighting projects!). While parental volunteerism has waned since Covid, I do hope re-engagement and new families will join the great events and fun traditions in support of our students' overall Priory experience.
(5) School Location
There is no way around it; Priory School's location is idyllic. Westmount is attractive, safe, and friendly, and encapsulates many independent schools in a small area. The campus itself is lush in the fall and sugar-coated in the winter. From the red brick to the stained glass to the iron gates to the giant conifer in the yard, it is a beautiful place for an elementary school to call home.