REVIEW OF Upper Canada College BY parent, Julia Pantalone
- Date of Review
February 23, 2018
SK - Gr. 5
(5) Student Experience
My boys have had an amazing experience at Upper Canada College since Day 1. They engage the boys right from the start and as a result, they feel a part of the school very early on. The school spirit and school community is like no other. One of the boys favourite aspects of school is the Norval Outdoor School. While closely aligned with their current unit of inquiry, the boys visits to Norval are always filed with incredible experiences and memories they won't forget, always a highlight of the school year. The boys also enjoy the athletics at the school, from Soccer Fest as an SK boy to playing for school teams and cheering on other teams is another highlight of their experience. The wide variety of experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, and the opportunities provided by the school for engaged learning truly make the boys love school.
(4.5) School Leadership
The leadership at UCC is wonderful. What stands out about the school leadership is how approachable the members of the leadership team are, and how well they communicate both positive and negative issues with parents. They are welcoming from the start and host several events in order to make themselves available to parents for questions and conversation. They attend parent organization meetings to provide updates on what is going on in the school and receive and respond to feedback. In my personal experience, feedback was immediately addressed, in an appropriate manner. They provide a positive school environment by discussing issues at assemblies and engaging and encouraging the boys to work harder to create a positive experience for everyone.
In our 6 years at the college we have had fantastic teachers. The class teachers know your son inside and out from very early on and work hard to bring out the best in your son and support any areas he may need to improve. They are experts in how boys learn best, from physically measuring around the classroom to completing math problems in teams racing to be the first team to complete. Teachers are passionate with the boys and do their best to promote enthusiasm and a love of learning within the boys. Individualized learning is key and boys will break out into smaller groups or may work one on one with teachers. Reports are detailed, and often include specific examples from their work or learning. Teachers provide regular updates both in the weekly school communication and also through direct emails and on line portfolios. The boys are encouraged to reach their full potential and well supported not only by their individual teacher but through the Centre for Learning.
The academic program at UCC follows the International Baccalaureate program. This program takes the boys through several units of inquiry over the academic year as well as core mathematics, language, art, music and physical education. The IB program's strength is in teaching not only information but how to learn, how to ask questions, and what to do with that information. I feel the inquiry based program fosters skills in research and problem solving. As the boys get older there is more group learning, self directed research and presentation. The mathematics curriculum is strong, and the physical education program consists of one hour daily with a variety of units including team sports and individual activities. The french program in the primary years could be more engaging for the younger boys. Boys have music regularly, and start with instruments in grade 5 in preparation for choosing an instrument for band the following year. I believe all aspects of the college's academic program is strong, teaching strong learning skills early on, fostering independence early on, and particularly preparing the boys for success as they move through school.
Upper Canada College provides a wide range of extracurricular programs to students of all ages through their after school program. Beginning in SK there are multiple programs available each afternoon including athletic programs, arts programs, and lego, debating, woodworking and robotics to name a few. Music lessons are available through the college where the boys receive one on one music instruction with a teacher during one of their music classes each week. Once the athletic teams begin, boys may join an athletic team, where they practice during their games (PE) class, boys who do not join a school team participate in intramural sports during this time. The school does their very best to ensure these opportunities are not only available for the boys but that they are able to participate in these activities often within the school day. The wide range of extracurricular activities available as well as the support to participate helps to develop well rounded boys successful in several different areas.
Upper Canada College has an extremely diverse student body. There are boys that excel at all different interests, there is no one typical boy. Although it is a large school the boys begin in one small class, and it remains this way until grade 3. The grades gradually get larger as the years move on. The school spirit is extremely strong, as the boys have several opportunities to support school teams, watch music performances, plays etc. The school is also divided into colour houses which provides smaller group interaction between the grades, participating in events such as soccerfest. From my experience, the boys have interacted well, successfully worked together in groups inside of the classroom as well as games outside of the classroom. There are also several 'buddy' systems with the older grades such as reading buddies from the early years.
(5) School Life
Student life at Upper Canada College is engaging and rich. There is always something exciting going on, be it their next trip to Norval, a school play, a musical performance in assembly, or the next big sports game. Successes are celebrated school wide through assemblies, with a popular assembly to end the term at winter break, and year end with slide shows and memories. My boys both love going to school each day. Classroom learning is fun and varied and supplemented with great field trips which provide an opportunity for experiential learning. The two recesses along with one hour of physical education daily is key for boys and helps them not only stay active during the day, but helps them stay focused during the day. I think a few more colour house based activities and events would help build friendships across the grades, in addition to the academic buddy system that begins in SK. Upper Canada College is a warm welcoming environment supportive to all boys and as a result the boys are happy and love being a part of the school.
One of the strongest aspects of Upper Canada College is its community. From the time of entrance to the school, new parent events are held where questions are answered and parents are given the opportunity to engage not only with faculty but with current parents. This continues as the school year begins with coffee mornings and parent receptions. Parents are welcomed to the school regularly for events, in class learning displays, whole school community events and the opportunity to bring their expertise into the classroom when the learning fits. The parent community is welcoming and all strongly aligned in making the school the very best for the boys. In my experience, there is no other school with a community like Upper Canada College.
(5) School Location
The school location is central within the city. The school is easily accessible by car, and public transport. The school facilities and grounds are incredible and provide ample space for learning as well as outdoor play. As the boys get older, they venture beyond the school grounds to the local neighbourhood spots.