The York School's Interim Strategic Plan 2021-2023

Five years ago, our Board of Directors and Leadership Team presented The York School community with our 20/20 Vision: Strategic Plan for 2015-2020. The plan itself represents a collaborative effort based on an extensive consultation process that included feedback from our alumni, parents, faculty and staff.

In keeping with its name, each one of the 20/20 Vision initiatives has helped our school flourish with an enhanced clarity of vision and understanding for the school’s commitment to academic excellence and long-term sustainability, including an expanded wellness program and the extensive Phase 1 renovation of our 1320 building.

The original timeline aligned our school’s CAIS accreditation review with the completion of 20/20 Vision. While the accreditation process will still happen, due to COVID-19 it has been pushed out at least a year. As such, our Board of Directors and Leadership Team have developed an Interim Strategic Plan for 2021-2023 which we are delighted to share with you.

This is an exciting time of innovation within the world of education, and never has the advantage of an IB diploma been more meaningful than in today's interconnected world. Through this lens, our students thrive, exposed to exceptional teaching and learning opportunities that allow them to develop into inquiring, knowledgeable, and engaged citizens ready to Take on the World.

The Interim Strategic Plan will provide a launching pad for our school as we continue to meet the challenges presented by the past year and turn them into opportunities for growth and development.

Together, we have made great progress in moving our plans forward and I would like to thank all members of our community for helping us to not just achieve our goals but also to reach beyond them.

Struan Robertson

Head of School

Consultative Approach

Canadian Accredited Independent School (CAIS) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Accreditation Process

Originally, we had planned our CAIS/IB accreditation review to coincide with the completion of our 20/20 Vision as it would enable us to review our progress, set new goals and, building off our learning and accomplishments, re-affirm existing initiatives that require more attention. Due to COVID-19, the review needed to be postponed and has been rescheduled to begin in 2021, with completion projected for November 2022.

The accreditation review process is consultative in nature, and will require input from our entire community of parents, staff, faculty, and students. Beginning in June, we will embark on the self-study stage of the review by forming committees for each of the 11 standards of excellence required by CAIS/IB. In the Fall, we will expand these committees to include parents, board members and students/alumni.

Looking ahead, the final step in the accreditation review is to host a visiting committee of CAIS/IB members. The visiting committee will spend a few days at our campuses in November 2022, conducting interviews and reviewing our committee reports. At the end of the process, our school will be presented with a list of commendations, suggestions and recommendations.

The interim strategic plan we are outlining here is intended to keep us on course as we work collaboratively with our community to set longer-term goals for our school, which is a natural by-product of the accreditation process. We look forward to completing the accreditation review with our community and thank you in advance for your participation in this process.

1. Deliver Academic Excellence

The International Baccalaureate (IB) is recognized world-wide as the gold-standard of education known for its challenging yet balanced curriculum and innovative approach to teaching. Students are encouraged to develop a life-long love of learning through a process of inquiry, action and reflection that supports a global mindset of interconnected and critical thinking.

As an IB World School, we are committed to expertly delivering our curriculum in ways that promote academic excellence and success for all. In the near-term, we will focus our efforts of achieving this balance in the following ways:

  • Build on learnings around remote classroom challenges brought on by COVID-19 and apply to teaching strategies for a connected classroom going forward
  • Review curriculum and teaching materials at all levels, incorporating Professional Development (PD) learnings and our Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) Committee work to elevate our learning approaches around DEI
  • Review the impact of the Diploma Programme (DP) task force initiatives in an effort to enhance mental health balance for students and teachers
  • Continue to implement and build on a Learning Strategies model that benefits all students

2. Cultivate highly qualified, dynamic and progressive staff

A key component to our continued success in achieving academic excellence in and out of the classroom is recognizing the symbiotic relationship between our teachers and students. In order to inspire our students to stretch their own thinking, we must continue to learn and innovate as educators, and as a community.

As part of our interim strategic plan, our faculty and staff will pursue the following strategies for teacher engagement and professional development (PD) aimed at delivering academic excellence across all divisions:

  • Attract, cultivate and retain highly qualified staff through Human Resources evaluation models and enhanced employee engagement, including new Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) standards
  • Continue work on a new staff growth and evaluation model to be implemented in Sept. 2021
  • Establish an annual Employee Engagement Survey model and use results to enhance employee engagement, including promoting DEI
  • Establish a pedagogical foundation for teachers and ensure they have the professional development and support to embrace new research-based practices – exploring resources such as NeuroTeach - the brain science behind learning to practical applications for classroom teaching.

3. Support the Whole Student and Foster Citizenship

Central to The York School’s approach to education is an appreciation for the importance of supporting the whole student. The impact of a global pandemic and social justice movements has only brought this more clearly into focus for all of us. As part of our interim strategic plan, we commit to the following initiatives related to supporting social and emotional wellness of students and staff:

Increase focus on wellness as it relates to social, emotional and physical health

  • Continued implementation of the RULER Mood Meter (Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence) and other Social Emotional Learning tools across all divisions with on-going PD for staff and faculty
  • Renovate, expand and develop our Wellness Centre into an inviting and accessible space full of resources for all members of our community

Prioritize student citizenship and engagement through relationship and community building

  • Prioritize citizenship as an additional way of optimizing the student experience, especially during uncertain times, to ensure our community remains connected and supported
  • Review and improve our culture, curriculum and community in new ways, including awareness-raising campaigns related to diversity, equity and inclusion and social justice movements and the review of our school’s house system.
  • Establish and develop affinity groups to ensure all members of our community feel connected and valued

4. Provide a Dynamic Learning Environment for All

At The York School, innovation has always been our tradition. Our commitment to providing a dynamic learning environment both WITHIN and BEYOND the classroom walls will continue to be a priority for our school.

Students do their best learning - and teachers do their best teaching - when they are supported by learning environments that can adapt to their social, emotional and physical needs quickly and seamlessly. Our continued efforts to enhance our existing facilities, as well as our outdoor spaces, will allow us to remain on the forefront of innovation while minimizing our environmental footprint and embracing everything our modern, urban setting has to offer:

  • In addition to the renovation of an inviting Wellness Centre, we will construct a new Junior School Playground, that will make maximum use of the space, have multiple uses as a versatile and creative play space for students, have an outdoor, interactive classroom for teachers and an additional gathering space for our community.
  • Through the establishment of a long-term Master Campus Plan, we will continue the renovation of the 3rd and 4th floors at our 1320 campus to ensure all students and staff have the benefits of the latest technology and innovations of connected, smart classrooms and learning spaces, including the ability to teach and learn remotely when necessary.
  • This will also include a strategic focus of our environmental footprint to ensure our campus and community is creating opportunities for stewardship and conservation that reflect our commitment to sustainability.

5. Long-Term Sustainability

Strong schools, like most organizations, are grounded in responsible governance and a commitment to financial sustainability and permanence. Our fiduciary responsibilities are to build on our solid base and provide a viable, stable future for our school. When faced with uncertainty and unforeseen challenges, such as a global pandemic and other events of the past year, these solid foundations are critical in helping our school and our community navigate the way forward together. For the interim strategic plan, our focus for long-term sustainability will be on the following initiatives:

  • Ensure long-term financial health with campuses that are busy 365 days of the year by exploring entrepreneurial and alternative revenue sources such as facility rentals to camps, programmes of distinction, etc.
  • Continue to practice open, trustworthy communications to foster a highly-informed and engaged community with improved re-enrolment rates, a culture of philanthropy and active alumni relations.
  • Participate openly and fully in the CAIS accreditation review process by involving staff, parents and students to ensure all suggestions and recommendations that result from the review are reflective of our entire community’s needs and interests.
  • Promote strong and effective governance and school leadership

The York School is an inclusive and welcoming school committed to delivering academic excellence in a balanced and dynamic learning environment suitable for today’s interconnected, global world. The key to our continued success and longevity lies in our ability to continually implement new approaches to education and student wellness that align with our mission and our identity.

Recent events have challenged all of us to think even further outside the box and have ultimately brought us closer together. This is also an exciting time of innovation and creativity for The York School. The interim plan will allow us to reflect on our learnings and build on this momentum as a school and a community. Thank you for being an important part of our journey and our work.

The York School Mission: To develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are engaged citizens of the world.