I have three boys at The York School and started four years ago with my eldest in Grade 9. He is now graduating this year and what a wonderful experience this has been – for our entire family. After research, tours and many, many coffees with parents at schools across Toronto, we chose The York School because of its smaller size, convenient location, IB academics and coeducational and international student body. Certain things have had a greater impact than we had expected such as the school's location and the focus on the entire student, not just academics. However, if you ask my boys, they would say they love The York School because of their teachers, their friends, their basketball teams and being at a school that is close to home.
The York School is led by Struan Robertson who has been instrumental in bringing the school to the premier level it is today. The entire Leadership team is critical to promoting the wonderful community that is The York School. Communication with parents – through timely emails and weekly newsletters – is thorough and detailed. Every Thursday there is a newsletter that features updates from not only the head of school but also each divisional principal, as well as the Parent Association. If you want to know what is going on, The Flash is the source.
Teachers at The York School are passionate, experienced, knowledgeable and really want their students to excel. Their support goes far to their students’ success. At the beginning of every year, parents get an opportunity to meet their child(ren)’s teachers, learn about the curriculum and find out what is in store for the year ahead. Every child in Senior School is paired with a faculty advisor who mentors and champions them continuously throughout their four years of high school. If needed, there is a considerable amount of support for learning strategies and wellness as well. There is a beautiful, brand new Wellness Centre that serves as a welcoming student hub for students when not in class. It has been incredibly well received by the students.
The York School has a reputation of being an elite, academic institution and it does not disappoint. The school excels in academic excellence and students are constantly encouraged to keep thinking, dig deep and ask ‘why’. I believe IB students are the best prepared for university life through opportunities such as the ICE program in Grade 9, the Extended Essay, the Personal Project and the abundance of experiential learning opportunities available. However, it is not all homework. The school promotes balance in students’ lives through an extensive array of clubs, sports teams and volunteering opportunities. The school focuses on the 'whole' student, not just academics, however, it is worth noting that York consistently exceeds the IB World School exam scores by an average of four points.
There are so many extracurricular opportunities at The York School and my boys have participated in wide-ranging opportunities including Investment Club, basketball, Model UN and DECA. York is a small school but fields competitive sports teams with assistance from outside coaches. York is renowned for its debate teams and consistently has students place at the top of their field around the world.
The student body is co-ed, international, diverse, inclusive and collaborative. This is fostered through such things as group work, project collaboration, house games, sports teams and an enormous array of extracurricular clubs. The school is smaller in size which allows for everyone to get to know each other really supports a great feeling of camaraderie and family. School spirit is very strong and is supported through fun events held throughout the year including house competitions, spirit weeks and casual themed days. Halloween and Winter Wonderland festivals are an enormous deal in the Junior School with parades, games and crafts. When I toured York (well before COVID!), I remarked on how students of both sexes were together either working for school or hanging out between classes. They all seemed relaxed and very happy.
All three of my boys love The York School school and all for different reasons – from teachers to sports to friends to clubs. The students are well supported and the school places equal emphasis on well-being, in addition to academic excellence in order to support a well-rounded student. There is a beautiful brand new wellness centre that serves as a student hub when the students are not in classes. Senior School students are allowed out for lunches which they do en masse and often! York uses a house system and every student is placed in one of four houses upon admission which fosters great camaraderie and friendly competition. The York School continues to support its neighbourhood community as well and runs such things as annual food drives and winter clothing drives to help those in need.
The York School has a very robust Parents Association, and every parent is automatically a member when their child enrolls at York. There are over 80 volunteer positions across Junior, Middle and Senior Schools depending on one’s time and talent - everything from class parent to committee member and even occasional volunteers, who are called on as needed. There is also a fabulous community for international families who have moved to Canada from overseas and are looking for a network to help them acclimatize to life in Toronto. Before starting at York for the first time, parents are paired with an Ambassador who is there to answer any and all questions leading up to the start of school and is a friendly face to welcome them to the York community.
The York School is wonderfully located at Yonge Street and St. Clair Avenue. Over 80% of the school population lives within a 5 km radius of the school which allows for wonderful connections for students outside of school hours as well. High school students are allowed out for lunch every day, which is a great way to foster some independence, and there is a wide variety of places close to the school that students can choose for lunch. I have my sons’ orthodontist and dentist conveniently located so they can pop out of school and be back within a short period of time. The area is safe and the school really supports the students’ independence while at the same time, putting their safety first.
There are a number of excellent choices of schools in Toronto and I think it is important to decide what are the most important elements for your student and your family. York was our first choice based on the IB academics, the faculty, smaller school size, convenient location and coeducational, international student body. Our dealings with the Head of Admissions – who was wonderfully patient with our questions – were professional, informative, honest and enlightening. We found the Kira Talent portion of the application to be quite fair and an interesting way to get to know students. The entire Admissions team is helpful, kind and does a great job of easing the transition to The York School community and ensuring our entire family was very well supported.
University counselling begins almost the moment that students arrive in high school. Students are paired one-on-one with a university counsellor who provides wonderful support and guidance both leading up to and throughout the entire application process. They help with course selection in Grade 10 to ensure the necessary courses are taken for the IB Diploma Program, in light of targeted post-secondary programs. They are very well-versed in all university applications – overseas, American, and, of course, Canadian, and provide detailed overviews of timelines for every possible consideration. The counsellors also offer insight and support to parents as well through information sessions and one-on-one meetings. Every year, the graduating class’ record of acceptances and scholarships to over 145 national and international post-secondary schools are testament to the university counselling program’s success.