Independent schools are non-profit organizations governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Each independent school determines its own mission and vision and offers a narrow set of programmes intended to achieve that specific mission.
Kempenfelt Bay School is a member of the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools and the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario. Each of these organizations have high standards of accreditation and regular oversight and inspections to ensure their standards are maintained. In addition, they offer regular professional development for both faculty and staff to ensure they are regularly aware of best practices.
The Ontario Ministry of Education provides a curricular guideline that serves as a base line for planning at KBS. While there are some intellectual developmental realities that limit how far and how fast students can be challenged, it is fair to say that the KBS expectations consistently exceed those set out by the province.
In the most recent standardized testing using the Canadian Achievement Test, the average KBS student, between grades 3 and 8, scored higher than 85% of those across Canada in writing, higher than 89% in reading and higher than 93% in math.
While academic inspection by the Ministry of Education is necessary to award the Ontario Secondary School diploma, the Ministry of Education does not have any function in the funding or oversight of the “business” side of an independent school.
While independent schools are not required to have Ontario certified teachers for every subject, the vast majority of teachers in independent schools do have teaching certifications and those who do not, often have a specific talent or skill that brings an advantage to their instruction of students.
At KBS we focus on getting the very best teachers guiding our classrooms, and while teacher certification is one criteria we consider, it is not the most important one. We seek great teachers, not great certificates and we hire specialists in French, the arts and physical education to ensure the highest quality instruction in ALL areas of the curriculum.
What is in the best interests of every child, ultimately, rests with the decision-making of parents and the reality is that a healthy social life is an important part of growing up.
Children make friends at school and through community-based programmes regardless of where the school is located and are often supported by parents in travelling for social purposes where required. What is most important is not the location of friends, the but the quality of friends. A strong group of peers will be made both at school and in the community and the question to consider is are the friends that are being made a good influence?
There is a great deal of misinformation and distortion about the demographics of families in the independent school system. Of course, there are families with greater financial resources than others but that is equally true in the public school system.
The demographic of most independent schools, and particularly KBS, is middle-class hard-working professionals and entrepreneurs who understand the value of an excellent education and who want their children to develop good work habits and respectful behaviours.
Consistent with “trying harder” KBS faculty and administration strive to make communication clear, simple and regular. Most parents interact with the teaching staff daily while dropping off or picking up their children. There are four reports a year, three formal parent/teacher conference times and parents are invited to contact teachers or administrators any time an issue of concern arises so that it can be dealt with while it is still a small issue!
KBS currently serves students from the Junior Kindergarten level to Grade 8.
Pre-school care is available from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
Teachers are in their classes at 8:00 a.m. each day to provide support or academic challenge.
School officially begins each day with assembly at 8:30 a.m. and there is a recess break from 10:10 – 10:30 and two separate lunch hours for JK-Grade 3 (11:30 – 12:30) and Grade 4-8 (12:00 – 1:00).
Classes end at 3:30 and optional after-school clubs run from 3:45 – 4:30.
Aftercare is provided until 6:00 p.m.
Teacher to student ratio can be a bit misleading when such numbers do not reflect the normal classroom environment. Students spend the greatest period of time in their regular classroom and average class size is a better measure of how much individual attention they might get during the day. At KBS, we aim for a class size range of 18 – 22 in grades 5 through 8, a range of 18 – 20 in grades 1 through 4, and 16 – 18 in JK and SK. Our current average class size is about 15.
All KBS students, from JK-Gr. 8 have French instruction daily. Classes are taught by fluent French teaching specialists and the language of instruction in those classes is completely French.
All KBS students, from JK-Gr. 8 have a daily physical education period taught be a dedicated physical education teacher. On Fridays that period is used for health instruction.
KBS also participates in inter-school sports with other schools from the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario. We currently field competitive teams for students from grade 3 and up in soccer, cross-country, basketball and track and field.
Finally, there are regular club activities which go on after school on Mondays through Thursdays, many which offer physical activities for students at various grade levels.
All KBS students, from JK-Grade 8, take art and music with subject specialists each week. The music programme has vocal music up to Grade 2 and then recorder and vocal music in Grade 3 and band instruments and vocal music from Grades 4-8. There is a jazz and concert band as part of extracurricular clubs and there are choirs in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions.
The art programme has a wide range of drawing, painting, sculpting and animation activities and the art room is generally one of the busiest spots at lunch hours! Both music and art have well equipped and separate teaching areas.
While we have carts of laptops and SmartBoards for classroom use, a bank of computers in the library and a number of tablets for student use, technology is viewed very much as a “tool” for young students. We tend to emphasize the importance of developing a skill without technology first, then using technology to enhance the speed and or quality of the work done.
To that end, our students learn to write well before they begin using word processing for writing. They learn their math facts (including multiplication tables) before they use calculators to solve more complex problems. They learn to speak well and understand effective presentations before they begin doing slide show or movie presentations. However, with personal skills developed, students quickly adapt to the use of technology for many of their research projects and presentations.
KBS was founded in 1999 by a group of families who wished to create an educational environment with small classes and high expectations. The school moved 576 Bryne Dr. in 2001 and to it’s current site at 2145 Innisfil Beach Road in the summer of 2017.
The mission statement of KBS states, “Kempenfelt Bay School (KBS) is committed to providing an exemplary education that empowers students to embrace their personal potential as productive and responsible global citizens.” In essence, our expectation is that our students will have a very solid grounding in the literacy skills and study skills to be able to leave KBS and successfully integrate in to their next phase of life regardless of what that may be to them.
The objective of the school, and the families who support the school, is to provide the students with a foundation that will ensure they have every post-secondary option available to them when they graduate. While at KBS our students learn how to learn and this allows them to begin making decisions about their future place in the world.
This question is probably best answered by the alumni themselves, who consistently reinforce, both through their words and their success beyond KBS, that the greatest benefits of their education at KBS were their learned work habits and their balanced education of academic, artistic and athletic interests.
Too often differences between the independent school system and public school system are stated in terms of “better or worse.” That perspective is not appropriate until you look at the needs of individual students. In other words, no school system is the best fit for every individual thus differing school options offer qualities that may better meet the needs of an individual.
KBS is a great school, where every student truly matters, every student is known and where the opportunities for personal growth are magnified by the attention they can get in small classes across a balanced programme of academics, arts and athletics. Expectations are high and well supported, both in work habits and character and KBS students thrive on challenge and display high levels of respectful behaviour and community service.
Perhaps the greatest difference between public schools and independent schools is that there is no guarantee in an independent school that any students will cross the threshold in September unless families trust that every decision will be made in the best interests of students and there is a true effort made to develop a strong relationship between the home and the school. To use an old cliché, we simply “try harder” at KBS.