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Upper Canada College:
The Our Kids Report > Academics
Grades SK TO Gr. 12 — Toronto, ON (Map)



Curriculum Liberal Arts, International Baccalaureate

[Show definition of Curriculum]

Central to your child's school experience is the underlying curriculum taught in the classroom. "Curriculum" refers to both what is taught and how it's taught. When considering the different curricula outlined in the next few pages, keep in mind that few schools fall neatly into one category or another. Most schools' curricula comprise a blend of best practices drawn from multiple curriculum types. Having said that, most schools do have a general overall curriculum type. These are identified for each school on OurKids.net.

Curriculum approach at Upper Canada College: Liberal Arts, International Baccalaureate

Upper Canada College has a Liberal Arts, International Baccalaureate approach to Curriculum (as opposed to Traditional, Progressive, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf approach).

[Show: About Liberal Arts, International Baccalaureate?]

Our Kids definition: Liberal Arts curricula share with traditional programs their emphasis on core knowledge-acquisition, but tend to borrow more best practices from the progressive approach. A Liberal Arts program might still feature group work and projects, for example, contrary to the more singular emphasis on tests and essays at a Traditional program.

Compare Upper Canada College's Curriculum with other schools on OurKids.net:
  Liberal arts - 13%
  Traditional - 40%
  Progressive - 35%
  Montessori - 11%
  Reggio Emilia - 0%
  Waldorf - 1%

Upper Canada College has a International Baccalaureate approach to supplementary curriculum.

Some private schools offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programming. The "Diploma Programme" is offered to students in the final two years of high school, while the "Primary Years Programme" (ages 3 to 12) and "Middle Years Programme" (ages 11 to 16) serve as preparation for the diploma program.

What Upper Canada College says about their overall curriculum and approach:

As an International Baccalaureate World School, UCC aims to develop well-rounded students with character who respond to challenges with optimism and an open mind. IB learners are better prepared to apply what they learn in real-world, complex, unpredictable situations. They strive to become inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. These attributes represent a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond intellectual development and academic success.

International Baccalaureate program(s) offered

Primary Years
Middle Years
Diploma program
Career-related program



Pedagogies and subject courses:

  • Mathematics

    Equal Balance

    Mathematics approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Mathematics (as opposed to Traditional Math, Discovery Math approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: These math programs feature an equal balance of “Traditional” and “Discovery” methods.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Mathematics with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 70%
      Traditional math - 25%
      Discovery math - 5%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    In the Primary Years Programme (SK-5) we provide instruction, experience and practice in patterns, numeration, place value, computation, geometry, measurement, decimals, fractions, graphing and problem solving. This includes drill, mental math challenges, hands-on activities, cooperative learning and the sharing of solutions. Most lessons begin with a math message or provocation; there are opportunities to work in small groups according to readiness, interest and learning profiles. Games may used for practice and to develop depth of understanding. In the Middle Division (6-7) the major areas of study are Number Sense and Numeration, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterning and Algebra, and Data Management and Probability. Calculator skills and the use of technology are further developed. There is an emphasis on problem solving which include participation in the Canadian National Mathematics League and Gauss contests. There are also opportunities for student-directed investigations and independent learning throughout the year.

    Textbooks and supplementary materials:

    Everyday Math, Kahn Academy, Jump Math, Mathletics and additional materials

    Calculator policy:

    In Grades 6-7 calculator skills and the use of technology are further developed. At the Upper School, an approved calculator is an essential tool.

  • Early Reading

    Balanced Literacy

    Early Reading approach at Upper Canada College: Balanced Literacy

    Upper Canada College has a Balanced Literacy approach to Early Reading (as opposed to Phonics-intensive, Whole Language approach).

    [Show: About Balanced Literacy?]

    Our Kids definition: Balanced reading programs are typically Whole Language programs with supplementary phonics training. This training might be incidental, or it might take the form of mini-lessons.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Early Reading with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Balanced literacy - 54%
      Phonics-intensive - 44%
      Whole language - 2%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    A well balanced reading program motivates students to read for pleasure and information, fostering a lifelong love of reading. Students need to develop the skills necessary to decode, construct meaning and think critically about what they read. As part of this process, students must acquire a broad and varied vocabulary and an ability to interpret written conventions. Students read a wide range of materials that illustrate different forms of writing. Teachers provide a print-rich environment, and model and promote a passion for both fiction and non-fiction texts. Students use library time to listen to stories read aloud, to browse, make choices and to read independently. They are introduced to a wide variety of genres and new and familiar authors and books. Students learn bibliographic and locational skills, and how to use resources for their projects and class work.

    DIBELS Testing: This school does not use DIBELS testing to assess reading progress.

    What Upper Canada College says:

    This information is not currently available.

  • Writing

    Equal balance

    Writing approach at Upper Canada College: Equal balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal balance approach to Writing (as opposed to Systematic approach, Process approach approach).

    [Show: About Equal balance?]

    Our Kids definition: Programs that balance systematic and process approaches equally likely have an emphasis on giving young students ample opportunities to write, while providing supplementary class-wide instruction in grammar, parts of sentences, and various writing strategies.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Writing with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 79%
      Systematic approach - 9%
      Process approach - 12%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    In order to communicate effectively, students need to select and organize their ideas logically with an audience in mind, and utilize appropriate conventions. Students have opportunities across the curriculum to read a rich variety of texts and write daily. Learning to write is a developmental process. Students focus first on meaning rather than accuracy. Writing conventions are introduced and mastered gradually along a continuum. As boys engage in meaningful writing activities that challenge them to think critically about various topics, they are motivated to master written communication skills throughout the curriculum. Once boys reach the IB Diploma Programme, they are required to complete a 4,000-word Extended Essay on a topic of interest from within the IB curriculum, usually taken from one of their Higher Level subjects. Students at UCC complete the EE during their IB1 (Grade 11) year.

  • Science

    Equal Balance

    Science approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Science (as opposed to Expository, Inquiry approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: Science programs that balance expository and inquiry learning equally will likely have an equal blend of tests and experiments; direct, textbook-based instruction and student-centred projects.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Science with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 69%
      Expository - 5%
      Inquiry - 26%

    Teaching approach:

    In the Prep School, students explore concepts in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science, and develop skills in the processes of scientific inquiry. They learn about the interrelationships of ecosystems, learn the basic principles of heat and temperature, investigate the relationship between form and function in various natural and man-made structures, and investigate the fundamentals of chemistry — mixtures, solutions, atomic structure and the periodic table. Mankind’s impact on the environment is a recurring theme throughout the year. Our school’s practices aim to provide immediate access to technology and to harness boys’ engagement with technology through the use of individual iPads in grades SK–3 and laptops from grade 4 onward. Students spend time each term at the Norval Outdoor School and participate in a program designed to encourage respect and understanding for the environment. Details about the Upper School science program are available upon request.

    Treatment of evolution:

    Evolution as consensus theory
    Evolution as one of many equally viable theories
    Evolution is not taught

    Topics covered in curriculum:

  • Literature

    Equal Balance

    Literature approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Literature (as opposed to Traditional, Social Justice approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: These literature programs draw in equal measure from “Traditional” and “Social Justice” programs.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Literature with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 76%
      Traditional - 21%
      Social justice - 3%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    Students at the Middle Division are introduced to three literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, and drama. Reading is encouraged with a reading period outside regular English class time. On a regular basis, students practice various forms of writing, including narrative pieces, poetry and essays. Core language skills (including formal grammar skills) are taught with the aid of classroom review and written exercises completed in their grammar workbook; students’ individual language skills weaknesses are addressed by the teacher as part of the writing process. Core vocabulary is drawn from the literature studied and from other subject areas. During library time, students are introduced to a wide variety of new and familiar authors and books through book talks and reading aloud. Students also use the periods to browse, choose books and read for pleasure. Further details about literature studied at the Upper School are available upon request.

    Program covers:

    Canadian lit
    American lit
    European (continental) lit
    World (non-Western) lit
    English lit
    Ancient lit
  • Social Studies


    Social Studies approach at Upper Canada College: Thematic

    Upper Canada College has a Thematic approach to Social Studies (as opposed to Core Knowledge, Expanding Communities approach).

    [Show: About Thematic?]

    Our Kids definition: The Thematic approach organizes the curriculum around certain themes or cultural universals. Students might spend time focused on food. Then they might focus on transportation or government, and so on.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Social Studies with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Thematic - 33%
      Core knowledge - 37%
      Expanding communities - 30%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    There are no formal history or geography classes at the IB Primary Years Programme (SK-5) level. In grade 6 students have their first formal study of history. It begins with an introduction to geography and its relation to history, and proceeds to the study of Roman civilization, from its founding through the Republic and Empire periods. Students spend the second term considering the genesis and development of world religions with a particular focus on Islam, and conclude the year studying Early Modern Europe, with an emphasis on the Renaissance, Reformation and the Age of Exploration. Throughout the year, students are introduced to historical concepts such as time sequence, evidence, cause and consequence, continuity and change, perspective, bias and moral judgment. The geography skills introduced in the first term are woven into the history program over the entire year.

  • Humanities and Social Sciences

    Equal Balance

    Humanities and Social Sciences approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Humanities and Social Sciences (as opposed to Perennialism, Pragmatism approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: These programs represent an equal balance between the perennialist and pragmatic approach to teaching the humanities and social sciences.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Humanities and Social Sciences with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 83%
      Perennialism - 7%
      Pragmatism - 10%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    The interaction of environment, culture, population and location lies at the heart of Geography. This definition implies a need for knowledge about the earth — knowledge about the ways in which humans use the earth’s resources and skills to recognize, describe and explain the spatial patterns that result from the interaction of people and their environment. To study History, Economics and Philosophy is to embark on a voyage of discovery, to seek in many ways to advance beyond the limitations and preoccupations of the present. Only by exploring the human experience in the past can we see how and why society changes and develop a sense of perspective on where we are heading in the 21st century.

  • Foreign Languages

    Equal Balance

    Foreign Languages approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Foreign Languages (as opposed to Audio-Lingual, Communicative approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: These programs feature an equal blend of the audio-lingual and communicative styles of language instruction.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Foreign Languages with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 65%
      Audio-lingual - 2%
      Communicative - 33%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    The study of additional languages adds to the international dimension of our UCC program, with French, Mandarin, Spanish and Latin offered. While learning the target language, the student also becomes aware of the similarities and differences between his own culture. This awareness fosters a greater respect for other peoples and the way in which they lead their lives. Through the study of authentic texts, students investigate and reflect on cultural values and behaviours. The main focus of all language courses is the acquisition and development of language skills through the study and use of a range of written and spoken material. Such materials will extend from everyday oral exchanges to literary texts and should be related to the cultures concerned. This will enable students to develop mastery of language skills as well as intercultural consideration.

    Language instruction offered in:

  • Fine Arts

    Equal Balance

    Fine Arts approach at Upper Canada College: Equal Balance

    Upper Canada College has an Equal Balance approach to Fine Arts (as opposed to Receptive, Creative approach).

    [Show: About Equal Balance?]

    Our Kids definition: These programs have an equal emphasis on receptive and creative learning.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Fine Arts with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Equal balance - 65%
      Receptive - 2%
      Creative - 33%

    Program offers:

    Graphic Design
    Visual Arts

    Visual studio philosophy:


    What Upper Canada College says:

    The Art Department offers students a challenging and flexible program that is innovative but also rooted in historical precedents. The Visual Arts curriculum provides students with a classroom/studio environment that fosters inventive thinking, independence of expression, reflective assessment of creative processes and products, and an appreciation for different points of view. In Music all students study an orchestral instrument from the woodwind, brass or percussion families. Students are strongly encouraged to perform in one of the three concert bands, three jazz ensembles, the string ensemble or the UCC Singers. The Drama and Theatre program is a dynamic, stimulating and rewarding program which prepares boys to be participants, critics and creators of theatre. The Film program uses state-of-the-art equipment to teach the building blocks of filmmaking: still photography, photo manipulation, storyboarding, script-writing, cinematography, sound recording, color correction and both picture and sound editing.

  • Computers and Technology

    Heavy integration

    Computers and Technology approach at Upper Canada College: Heavy integration

    Upper Canada College has a Heavy integration approach to Computers and Technology (as opposed to Light integration, Medium integration approach).

    [Show: About Heavy integration?]

    Our Kids definition: A major effort is made to integrate the development of digital literacy throughout the curriculum and in everything students do. Digital literacy is understood to be a fundamental skill in the 21st century: it therefore follows, the idea goes, that teachers should find ways to connect every lesson back to technology. Effort is made to ensure the use of technology is meaningful and advances students’ skills beyond what they would otherwise be from using computers outside the classroom.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Computers and Technology with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Heavy integration - 30%
      Light integration - 18%
      Medium integration - 52%

    What Upper Canada College says:

    UCC has a 1:1 Apple device program from SK through to university prep. The Computer Science Department offers a progression of courses with an emphasis on problem solving (individual work) and project development (team work). Our emphasis is less on keystrokes and mouse clicks, and more on the development of ideas and algorithms to meet evolving communication and computational needs. Our goal is that students both understand the historical development of technology and the technological culture, as well as possess a strong set of skills in the design, programming and day-today use of digital devices, systems and networks. All learning in computer science courses is hands-on and activity-based. Thus, the students will gain the confidence and competence to deal with the broad range of computer technologies found around the world today.

    Program covers:

    Computer science
    Web design
  • Physical Education

    What Upper Canada College says:

    Through courses offered by the Physical and Health Education Department, students will grasp the importance of physical fitness throughout their lives and, of equal importance, learn the value of good decision making and good judgment with respect to healthy choices. In the early years of the Physical Education program, team sports are used to develop fitness and fundamental skills. Sportsmanship is taught and developed through healthy competition. In the later years, the Physical Education curriculum begins to emphasize carry-over sports that the student can enjoy for the rest of his life. We want the students to leave the school with a desire to remain active, fit, healthy and happy.

  • IB Diploma courses

    31 courses

    Group 1 (Language A)

    • English Literature SL
    • English Literature HL

    Group 2 (Language B)

    • French SL
    • French HL
    • Spanish SL
    • Spanish HL
    • Spanish ab initio SL

    Group 3 (Individuals and Societies)

    • Economics SL
    • Economics HL
    • Geography SL
    • Geography HL
    • History HL

    Group 4 (Experimental Sciences)

    • Chemistry SL
    • Chemistry HL
    • Biology SL
    • Biology HL
    • Physics SL
    • Physics HL
    • Environmental Systems SL
    • Sports, Exercise and Health Science SL

    Group 5 (Mathematics)

    • Mathematical Studies SL
    • Mathematics SL
    • Mathematics HL

    Group 6 (The Arts)

    • Music SL
    • Music HL
    • Theatre SL
    • Theatre HL
    • Visual Arts SL
    • Visual Arts HL
    • Film SL
    • Film HL
  • Advanced Placement courses

    This information is not currently available.
  • Sex and health education

    Not Ontario curriculum

    Sex and health education approach at Upper Canada College: Not Ontario curriculum

    Upper Canada College has a Not Ontario curriculum approach to Sex and health education (as opposed to Follows provincial curriculum approach).

    [Show: About Not Ontario curriculum?]

    Our Kids definition: The sex education curriculum does NOT follow the provincial one taught in public schools - either in terms of structure, pacing, focus, and/or tone.

    Compare Upper Canada College's Sex and health education with other schools on OurKids.net:
      Does not follow prrovincial curriculum - 41%
      Follows provincial curriculum - 59%

    Approach to sex and health education: Mostly value-neutral

    Upper Canada College has a approach Mostly value-neutral (as opposed to Fairly value-based approach).
    [Show: About Mostly value-neutral?]

    Our Kids definition: By and large, students are taught about sex free of any particular moral or ethical standpoint. The school doesn't impose any particular values or value systems (such as social, political, or ideological values) on students when teaching sex and related issues.

    What Upper Canada College says:

    The health curriculum covers many important topics. It is taught using the central theme of respect for one’s own body and concern for others. Areas of study include sex education, relationships, gender issues, fitness concepts and lifestyle habits. In addition, we offer a unit in self-defense, which involves a minimal additional expense to families.

Preschool/K Curriculum Play-based

[Show definition of Preschool/K Curriculum]

Preschools and kindergartens tend to have a particular curriculum or curricular approach. This refers to what is taught and how it's taught. Most preschools have a curriculum that comprises a blend of best practices drawn from multiple curriculum types. A preschool's curriculum may or may not, though, reflect its higher-level curriculum (if it's part of a school with elementary or secondary programs)

Preschool/K Curriculum approach at Upper Canada College: Play-based

Upper Canada College has a Play-based approach to Preschool/K Curriculum (as opposed to Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, Academic approach).

[Show: About Play-based?]

Our Kids definition: Play-based programs are the most common type of preschool and Kindergarten, and are founded on the belief young children learn best through play. Largely open-ended and minimally structured, play-based programs aim to develop social skills and a love of attending school. “Pre-academic” skills are taught, but in a more indirect way than at, say, an Academic program: through children playing in different “stations” set up around the classroom, which children choose on their own volition. Stations often contain an indirect lesson or developmental goal. Play-based classrooms are highly social and active.

Compare Upper Canada College's Preschool/K Curriculum with other schools on OurKids.net:
  Play-based - 24%
  Montessori - 26%
  Waldorf - 2%
  Reggio emilia - 7%
  Academic - 41%

What Upper Canada College says about their preschool/K curriculum approach:

Students in Forms SK–5 follow the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate, which focuses on preparing children to be world citizens and lifelong learners. The PYP's transdisciplinary, inquiry-based approach to curriculum sees preset themes recur in various play-based activities. French as a second-language is taught to all children. Students enjoy immediate access to technology through the use of individual iPads. Library time sees students listen to stories read aloud, browse, make choices and read independently. Outdoor education takes place at Norval and in our Learning Garden. Math, arts, physical education and science are core subjects.

Language English

Learn about Upper Canada College's languages of instruction and enrolment.

Upper Canada College offers English as the primary language of instruction.

Language of enrolment include: English

Curriculum Pace Accelerated

[Show definition of Curriculum Pace]

This refers to the rate at which students move through the curriculum (e.g., topics, textbook material, skills, etc.). Curriculum pace is often defined in comparison to provincial standards.

Curriculum Pace approach at Upper Canada College: Accelerated

Upper Canada College has an Accelerated approach to Curriculum Pace (as opposed to Standard-enriched, Student-paced approach).

[Show: About Accelerated?]

Our Kids definition: The main curriculum accelerates beyond the pace of the provincial one; ALL students do the work of OLDER public-school peers in tangible and measurable ways. This accelerated pace is maintained by the teachers and school, (through textbook selection, topic selection, grading, assignment standards and expectations, etc).

Compare Upper Canada College's Curriculum Pace with other schools on OurKids.net:
  Accelerated - 18%
  Standard-enriched - 56%
  Student-paced - 26%

What Upper Canada College says about their curriculum pace:

Ontario students entering UCC from Grade 8 are moving into a Grade 10 curriculum and must take additional courses outside of regular school hours to keep pace. Students entering from a Grade 9 or higher program are individually assessed. In many cases an additional year of study is required.

Flexible pacing style

Type Offered
Subject-streaming (tracking)
Multi-age classrooms as standard
Ability-grouping (in-class) as common
Frequent use of cyber-learning (at-their-own-pace)
Regular guided independent study opportunities
Differentiated assessment

What Upper Canada College says about their flexible pacing:

UCC helps students achieve their academic goals through the Wernham & West Centre for Learning, a high-support environment.

Academic Culture Rigorous

[Show definition of Academic Culture]

Through the collective mindset of teachers, administrators, students, and parents, each school develops and maintains its own academic culture. This generally relates to the norms and expectations created around academic performance. Many parents look to private schools because they want a specific type of culture. Some want a rigorous environment that will elevate their child to new heights. Others want a nurturing environment that will help their child develop a passion for learning.

Academic Culture approach at Upper Canada College: Rigorous

Upper Canada College has a Rigorous approach to Academic Culture (as opposed to Supportive approach).

[Show: About Rigorous?]

Our Kids definition: A school with a “rigorous” academic culture places a high value on academic performance, and expects their students to do the same. This does not mean the school is uncaring, unsupportive, or non-responsive -- far from it. A school can have a rigorous academic culture and still provide excellent individual support. It does mean, however, the school places a particular emphasis on performance -- seeking the best students and challenging them to the fullest extent -- relative to a normal baseline. High expectations and standards – and a challenging yet rewarding curriculum – are the common themes here. Keep in mind this classification is more relevant for the older grades: few Kindergarten classrooms, for example, would be called “rigorous”.

Compare Upper Canada College's Academic Culture with other schools on OurKids.net:
  Rigorous - 49%
  Supportive - 51%

What Upper Canada College says about their academic culture:

There’s a reason why UCC boasts a 100 per cent university acceptance rate around the world among its students. Its first-rate modern liberal arts academic program is backed by experienced, dedicated, passionate teachers who ultimately give students the tools they need to learn on their own. By the time students graduate, they are primed in every way possible to embark on a successful university education. The International Baccalaureate (IB) is the principal diploma program at UCC and is undertaken by all students in their final two years at the Upper School.

Developmental priorities Balanced

[Show definition of Developmental priorities]

Schools have specific goals regarding how they want their educate and develop their students. This is part of a school's overall philosophy or vision, which is contained in its mission statement. While they tend have several developmental aims, schools tend to priortize certain aims, such as intellectual, social, spiritual, emotional, or physical development.

Primary Developmental Priority: Balanced

Equal emphasis is placed on a balance of priorities: intellectual, emotional, social and physical cultivation.

Secondary Developmental Priority: Intellectual

The goal is to cultivate "academically strong, creative and critical thinkers, capable of exercising rationality, apprehending truth, and making aesthetic distinctions."

What Upper Canada College says about their developmental priorities:

UCC has been preparing the country's leaders for more than 190 years. Whether it's business, politics, athletics, arts, medicine, finance or anything in between, a UCC grad is well positioned to take the next step in leadership development. This means possessing a broad set of practical skills as well as social and intellectual intelligence; having a global perspective; empathizing with different people and issues. And it requires grit, determination and perseverance. These are the hallmarks of a UCC grad.

Special needs support No support

[Show definition of Special needs support]

Schools offer a wide range of approaches and services to support students with special needs. This may include individualized learning, one-on-one support, small classes, resource rooms, and learning aids. These supports may be provided in a number of different environments such as a dedicated special needs school or class, an integrated class, a withdrawal class, or a regular class with resource support or in-class adaptations.

Upper Canada College offers No support

Upper Canada College offers no/limited support for students with learning difficulties or special needs.

What Upper Canada College says about their special need support:

Whatever a student's learning goals, the Wernham West Centre for Learning (WWCfL) offers targeted and customized support. Because every student learns differently, the WWCfL's mandate aligns with the International Baccalaureate’s goal to support a diversity of learning styles. The WWCfL helps students understand how they learn and to be their own self-advocates in the learning continuum. It also provides support for faculty to help students develop their capacity and character as global citizens.

A - Forms of Support
B - Environments
Indirect Support:
Resource Assistance:
Withdrawal Assistance:
Partial Integration:
Full-Time Class:

Special NeedNeed
Forms of SupportA
  • Learning disabilities
    Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
    This is a learning disability that can limit a child's ability to read and learn. It can have a variety of traits. A few of the main ones are impaired phonological awareness and decoding, problems with orthographic coding, and auditory short-term memory impairment.
    Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
    This is a sound differentiation disorder involving problems with reading, comprehension, and language.
    This is a kind of specific learning disability in math. Kids with this math disorder have problems with calculation. They may also have problems with math-related concepts such as time and money.
    This is a kind of specific learning disability in writing. It involves problems with handwriting, spelling, and organizing ideas.
    Language Processing Disorder
    This is characterized by having extreme difficulty understanding what is heard and expressing what one wants to say. These disorders affect the area of the brain that controls language processing.
    Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
    These involve difficulties interpreting non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. They're usually characterized by a significant discrepancy between higher verbal skills and weaker motor, visual-spatial, and social skills.
    Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
    A characteristic seen in people with learning disabilities such as Dysgraphia or Non-verbal LD. It can result in missing subtle differences in shapes or printed letters, losing place frequently, struggles with cutting, holding pencil too tightly, or poor eye/hand coordination.
  • Developmental
    Refers to a range of conditions that involve challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and speech and nonverbal communication. They also involve unique strengths and differences. For instance, there are persons with both low- and high-functioning autism (some claim the latter is identical to Asperger's syndrome).
    Asperger's Syndrome
    On the autism spectrum, Asperger's is considered quite mild in terms of symptoms. While traits can vary widely, many kids with Asperger's struggle with social skills. They also sometimes fixate on certain subjects and engage in repetitive behaviour.
    Down syndrome
    his is associated with impairment of cognitive ability and physical growth, and a particular set of facial characteristics.
    Intellectual disability
    This is a condition characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning (e.g., reasoning, learning, and problem solving). Intellectual disabilities are also known as general learning disabilities (and used to be referred to as a kind of mental retardation).
    Williams syndrome
    This is a rare genetic disorder present at birth. It is characterized by intellectual disabilities or learning problems, unique facial features, and cardiovascular problems.
    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
    Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is an umbrella term used to describe the range of effects that can occur in an individual whose mother consumed alcohol during pregnancy. These may include growth deficits, facial anomalies, and damage to the central nervous system, which can lead to cognitive, behavioural, and other problems.
  • Behavioral and Emotional
    Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
    roubled teens tend to have problems that are intense, persistent, and can lead to quite unpredictable behaviour. This can lead to behavioural and emotional issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse, criminal behaviour, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.
    Clinical Depression
    This is a mental health disorder also called "major depression." It involves persistent feelings of sadness, loss, and anger. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in daily activities, such as school, work, or one's social life.
    Clinical anxiety
    This is a mood disorder involving intense, relentless feelings of distress and fear. They can also have excessive and persistent worry about everyday situations, and repeated episodes of intense anxiety or terror.
    Suicidal thoughts
    This involves persistent thoughts about ending one's life.
    Drug and alcohol abuse
    This involves the excessive use of drug and/or alcohol, which interferes with daily functioning.
    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    This is a disruptive behavioural disorder which normally involves angry outbursts, often directed at people of authority. This behaviour must last continuously for six months or more and significantly interfere with daily functioning.
  • Physical
    Multiple sclerosis
    This is a condition of the central nervous system. It affects the brain, optic nerves, and spinal cord. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of motor control, memory loss, depression, and cognitive difficulties.
    Cerebral palsy
    his refers to a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. CP is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture.
    Muscular dystrophy
    Muscular dystrophy is a neuromuscular disorder which weakens the body's muscles. Causes, symptoms, age of onset, and prognosis vary between individuals.
    Spina Bifida
    This is a condition present at birth due to the incomplete formation of the spine and spinal cord. It can lead to a number of physical challenges, including paralysis or weakness in the legs, bowel and bladder incontinence, hydrocephalus (too much fluid in the brain), and deformities of the spine.
    Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
    This is a Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Also known as "sensory integration disorder," it affects fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It may also affect speech.
    Visual impairment is a decreased ability or inability to see that can't be fixed in usual ways, such as with glasses. Some people are completely blind, while others have what's called "legal blindness."
    Hearing impairment, also known as "hearing loss," is a partial or total inability to hear. The degree of hearing impairment varies between people. It can range from complete hearing loss (or deafness) to partial hearing loss (meaning the ears can pick up some sounds).
    Cystic Fibrosis
    Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited genetic condition, which affects the body's respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems. It affects young children and adults.
    Multiple physical
    Accommodating a wide range of physical conditions and disabilities.

Read our guide to special needs schools and special education

Academic support

Learning strategy and study counselling; habit formation
Extra support and minor accommodations for children experiencing subclinical difficulties

Mild but clinically diagnosed learning disabilities

Extra support

What Upper Canada College says:

The Wernham West Centre for Learning (WWCfL) offers exceptional services to students at both the Prep and Upper School in subject-area assistance, addressing academic challenges and special needs support. The WWCfL is an encouraging space that helps shape great habits that carry students well beyond UCC. In addition to offering diagnostic assessments and individualized supports for students with special learning needs, the WWCfL is committed to facilitating a greater understanding of each student's unique learning style to help him develop strategies for success. The centre also provides professional development for UCC's faculty, serves as a resource for families, and connects with other schools and organizations to collaborate and develop research relationships and networks.

Additional support

Social skills programs
Occupational therapy
Speech-language therapy

Gifted learner support Accelerated curriculum

[Show definition of Gifted learner support]

Schools support students with gifted or advanced learning abilities in a several ways. Whether they offer a full-time gifted program or part-time support, they normally provide some form of accelerated learning (delivering content at a faster pace) or enrichment (covering content more broadly or deeply). Many schools also offer a wide range of in-class adaptations to support advanced learners, such as guided independent studies, project-based learning, and career exploration.

Curriculum Delivery: Acceleration and enrichment

There is an equal emphasis on acceleration and enrichment.

Class structure

Program Offered
Full-time gifted program (parallel to rest of school)
Part-time gifted program (pull-out; parallel to rest of class)

In-class adaptations

Program Offered
Custom subject enrichment (special arrangement)
Custom curriculum compacting (special arrangement)
Guided independent study (custom gifted arrangement)
Cyber-learning opportunities (custom gifted arrangement)
Formalized peer coaching opportunities (specifically for gifted learners to coach others)
Custom subject acceleration (special arrangement)
Career exploration (custom gifted arrangement)
Project-based learning (custom gifted arrangement)
Mentorships (custom gifted arrangement)

What Upper Canada College says about their gifted learner support:

Whatever a student's learning goals, the Wernham West Centre for Learning (WWCfL) offers targeted and customized support. Because every student learns differently, the WWCfL's mandate aligns with the International Baccalaureate’s goal to support a diversity of learning styles. The WWCfL helps students understand how they learn and to be their own self-advocates in the learning continuum. It also provides support for faculty to help students develop their capacity and character as global citizens.

Homework Policy

[Show definition of Homework Policy]

Homework is work that's assigned to students for completion outside of regular class time. There's a long-standing debate over homework. Should homework be assigned to school-age children? If so, in what grades? And how much homework should be assigned? In selecting the right school for your child, it's important to look closely at a school's homework policy.

Nightly homework

In grade Gr. 12, Upper Canada College students perform an average of 1 hour of homework per night.

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Site Average8 mins15 mins18 mins24 mins30 mins36 mins42 mins54 mins58 mins76 mins87 mins103 mins111 mins

What Upper Canada College says about their flipped classroom policy:

This information is not currently available.

Report Card Policy

[Show definition of Report Card Policy]

While all schools measure individual progress and achievement in students, they have different ways of doing this. For instance, many traditional schools gauge progress through report cards, which give students lettered or numbered grades. Other schools, meanwhile, measure progress in other ways, either in addition to or instead of giving grades. For instance, they may offer prose-based feedback (i.e, comments), academic achievement reporting, habits and behaviour reporting, and parent-teacher meetings. In choosing the right school for your child, take a close look at its policy for measuring the individual progress of students.

How assessments are delivered across the grades

Lettered or numbered gradesSK to Gr. 12
Prose (narrative)-based feedbackSK to Gr. 12
Academic achievement reportingSK to Gr. 12
Habits and behaviour reportingSK to Gr. 12
Parent-teacher meetingsSK to Gr. 12

Extracurricular Activities

While academics remain the priority for most private schools, many also place a strong focus on a well-rounded education and encourage participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, arts, or clubs. Involvement in extracurriculars helps stimulate students in their studies, makes them more motivated to learn, and can make school more enjoyable and fulfilling. Extracurricular activities can also provide students with a much-needed break from the stresses of academics, while helping them to develop skills and allowing them to take part in valuable social situations.

Sports offered

Upper Canada College offers 22 competitive sports and 16 recreational sports.

  Competitive offered          Recreational offered
all sports]
  • Archery
  • Curling
  • Ultimate
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Cricket
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Cycling
  • Downhill skiing
  • Equestrian
  • Fencing
  • Field Hockey
  • Figure Skating
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Hockey
  • Ice Skating
  • Lacrosse
  • Martial Arts
  • Mountain biking
  • Racquet Ball
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Running
  • Sailing
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Squash
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track & Field
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling

Clubs offered

Upper Canada College offers 24 clubs and extracurricular programs.

  Clubs offered           Clubs not offered
all clubs and programs]
  Foreign Language Club
  Habitat for Humanity
  Jazz Ensemble
  Math Club
  Musical theatre/Opera
  Ballet and Classical Ballet
  Online Magazine
  Outdoor Club
  Outdoor Education
  Poetry/Literature club
  Radio club
  Robotics club
  Round Square
  School newspaper
  Science Club
  Student Council
  Art Club
  Astronomy Club
  Audiovisual Club
  Chess Club
  Community Service
  Computer Club
  Dance Club
  Debate Club
  Drama Club
  Environmental Club

What Upper Canada College says about their extracurricular activities:

  • UCC has several championship varsity sports teams, as well as 19 house league and inter-school teams available.
  • There are more than 80 different groups and clubs to participate in.
  • All students play a musical instrument at the Prep School.
  • Students can take part in field trips focusing on everything from the arts and athletics, to camping and the outdoors.
  • Students participate in global humanitarian trips that exemplify the school’s service value.
  • Students can participate in coding and STEAM competitions.
  • UCC’s more than 11,000 graduates have the opportunity to maintain their life-long friendships and make new connections by participating in alumni activities across the world.

THE OUR KIDS REPORT: Upper Canada College

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