With public school class sizes in the Lower Mainland reaching unmanageable heights, parents have begun searching for schools offering smaller class sizes for their children. A 2014 study by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) reveals that students in smaller classes consistently outperform those in larger ones. This is especially true for elementary school students who require more one-on-one attention than older children do. Other studies have found that elementary students in small classes are more engaged in learning and display less disruptive behaviour as compared to students in larger classes.
Since its inception in New Westminster, the private school Urban Academy has been committed to embracing the small class philosophy by keeping class sizes to between 14 to 18 students.
And the school, which offers Junior Kindergarten through Grade 12 courses, will continue to offer small class sizes when it relocates its campus to a brand new facility located near Braid Skytrain Station in Fall 2018. Says Cheryle Beaumont, the Head of School for four years: “We’ve always had a policy of restricting class sizes so that they’re large enough for a good social dynamic but small enough for individual attention.”
Small class sizes don’t mean small classrooms, though. Spanning five storeys and over 50,000 square feet, the new campus has more than enough space to accommodate multiple smaller-sized classes. In order to meet the needs of all types of students and learners, the school has constructed movable walls which both maximize and open up the learning spaces. These classrooms will also be outfitted with the most up-to-date technology, including fibre-optic connectivity.
At Urban Academy, learning isn’t just confined to the four walls of a classroom. In fact, the small class sizes allow teachers to take students outside of the classroom more easily, says Beaumont. Embracing the benefits of outdoor learning, the school’s outdoor education curriculum encourages students to take risks and challenge themselves physically, and to demonstrate courage and leadership through new experiences.
Students can expect to have over 75 hours of outdoor education per year, and the new campus will have seven outdoor learning spaces to help support the students as well. In addition to the outdoor program, students have access to the school’s new full-sized 4,000 square foot gymnasium. Students are encouraged to participate in both traditional sports such as soccer or basketball as well as more unique pass-times such as curling and fencing.
The new campus is conveniently located just steps from the Skytrain, at 100 Braid Street. Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2018 intake.