Parenting & Family

Choice of secondary schools in Toronto

  • Last Updated:
  • May 31st, 2019 8:19 pm
[OP]
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Jun 7, 2005
20 posts
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Ottawa

Choice of secondary schools in Toronto

We are moving to Toronto this summer from US. My work will be in downtown and we plan to live closer to my work (40 minutes commuting). My daughter will go to grade 10 this fall. I found that there are many good high schools in midtown and north york (North Toronto CI, Leaside High school, Lawrence Park CI, York Mills CI, Earl Haig, AY Jackson). But she is a very shy and sensitive girl. We hope to find a high school that is more friendly and welcomes a newcomer. If you have experience with these schools and the neighborhoods/communities, may you please share some information? Thank you!
22 replies
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Jun 9, 2003
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you may need to talk to the school first...some High Schools are quite small (i.e. Earl Haig) and may not take renters living in the high school district.

Some schools require you to attend grade 8 in an area public school as a criteria to attend the area high school.

The enrolment process changes a lot...and may be different from what I heard in the past...its best to contact the high school first to ensure you have the most updated information.

http://earlhaig.ca/information/boundaries.php
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Nov 24, 2004
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Toronto
Based on your note, I assume you are planning to decide where to live based primarily on the local school. (Optional attendance at out-of-catchment schools is very limited in Toronto.)

All the schools you mention have good reputations, but they are also all located in affluent areas of the city (in some cases, extremely affluent areas).

Does your daughter have any particular interests (like music, sports, clubs, etc.)? If so, it may be worthwhile to look for schools that have particular strengths in those areas, so she can get involved in extracurricular activities and get integrated into the school culture that way.
[OP]
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Jun 7, 2005
20 posts
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Ottawa
I talked to some of the schools and they all said they will take the students as Long as they live in the school boundary (either rent or own).
Last edited by Banf on May 21st, 2019 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Newbie
Jun 7, 2005
20 posts
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Ottawa
Thanks for your reply! I will look at the extracurricular activities of the schools.

Yes, we plan to live within the attendance boundary of the school we are going to choose.

Besides high rents or expensive house prices of the affluent areas of the city, are there any other negative sides about those areas?
Deal Expert
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Jun 9, 2003
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there really is no negative sides to those neighborhoods....most neighborhoods are safe in Toronto "in general". There are exceptions...but not many in those neighborhoods that you have listed.

Making friends is more of a personal thing and really isnt that dependent on the neighbourhood or school. Your daughter will need to take some initiatives to make friends...joining clubs would make it easier.
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Aug 22, 2011
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I personally don't know of a school that is "welcoming" of new students, especially HS.
Pick the best school and hope your daughter can make friends quickly and pick up new social skills.
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Dec 27, 2013
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Woodbridge
I'm assuming that your daughter is going to attend as an international student. If you're Canadian citizens moving back to Canada, this post is moot.

TDSB has assigned specific high schools as hosts of international students. You may not have the option to attend a school even if you live in the area, assuming your daughter is considered an international student. Some of my students this year in York Region are international students and they're not allowed to attend a high school that's pretty much across the street from them because it's completely full and international students are being funnelled elsewhere. Take a look here https://www.tdsb.on.ca/About-Us/Interna ... Placements for specific school placements and here https://www.tdsb.on.ca/About-Us/Interna ... l-Students for the main international student page.

One thing I'd look into is what clubs, teams, or other extracurriculars are offered at various schools and choose one that gives your daughter the most opportunities to get involved in something outside of class. That will help her make some connections and find friends based on common interests.
[OP]
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Jun 7, 2005
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Ottawa
Thanks to all for your replies.

We are Canadian citizens but have been living in the US for 7 years and back to Canada due to my work. We were in BC before moving to the US, so Toronto is a totally new place for us. Thanks to OntEdTchr for the information! I looked at the links you provided and found the registration of some high schools have been closed. Would my daughter be accepted by a school that we choose to go and live within its boundary?
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Jan 2, 2012
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Banf wrote: Thanks to all for your replies.

We are Canadian citizens but have been living in the US for 7 years and back to Canada due to my work. We were in BC before moving to the US, so Toronto is a totally new place for us. Thanks to OntEdTchr for the information! I looked at the links you provided and found the registration of some high schools have been closed. Would my daughter be accepted by a school that we choose to go and live within its boundary?
You need to call the school and ask, as they all have different policies.
For some highly ranked schools that are surrounded by lots of condos (like Earl Haig in North York), I believe they give registration preference to those living in freehold homes first, and then those living in condos get selected only if spaces are still available. In this North York area there are signs all over on new condos being built that students living there will need to be sent to schools in other school zones. So make sure you call and ask any school their policy for your specific situation, before making the move there.

Also your daughter's experience at any school will be mostly dependent on them and the students they interact with. There are great kids at low ranked schools, horrible kids at highly ranked schools, and vice versa. If she is very shy and sensitive, she may have a hard time regardless where she goes. It will be impossible to guarantee what her experience will be, you'll just need to hope for the best and that she will take some initiative to join clubs or social groups at the school that interest her.
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Dec 27, 2013
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Woodbridge
Banf wrote: Thanks to all for your replies.

We are Canadian citizens but have been living in the US for 7 years and back to Canada due to my work. We were in BC before moving to the US, so Toronto is a totally new place for us. Thanks to OntEdTchr for the information! I looked at the links you provided and found the registration of some high schools have been closed. Would my daughter be accepted by a school that we choose to go and live within its boundary?
Since your daughter doesn't count as an international student she should be able to go to the high school in the area that you're living or renting it. The link that I provided is for international students and those registrations being opened and closed would apply to International students. The best answer that you'll get is directly from the guidance departments of the high schools that you are considering. I know that there are some schools in Toronto that are pretty much empty and others that are bursting at the seams. There are also schools that are quite close to one another and even though you live in the area for one they may send you to the other. One thing I will say is that you should decide quickly. Time tables are already being made for next year and courses are filling up very fast. Your daughter may not get the timetable that she wants or the courses that she wants if you wait too long, especially if the school you choose is relatively full.
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Feb 19, 2019
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Banf wrote: We are moving to Toronto this summer from US. My work will be in downtown and we plan to live closer to my work (40 minutes commuting). My daughter will go to grade 10 this fall. I found that there are many good high schools in midtown and north york (North Toronto CI, Leaside High school, Lawrence Park CI, York Mills CI, Earl Haig, AY Jackson). But she is a very shy and sensitive girl. We hope to find a high school that is more friendly and welcomes a newcomer. If you have experience with these schools and the neighborhoods/communities, may you please share some information? Thank you!
You my want to consider finding a neighbourhood that wouldn’t require moving to a different school when switching from rent to buy if you decide that is the option for you.

Like the previous posts said choosing a high school its very personal thing. Taking under consideration your daughter shyness in every school you will have different groups of teenagers’ even the best school can be a very hard adjustment. Toronto and the surroundings area are very multicultural so that should not be a problem for a newcomer. The areas you mentioned are quite expensive if you would like to purchase a home there, but like I said in previous post there are many places around Toronto with great schools and lots of activities for children in your price range. North of Toronto is Aurora, Stouffville and Newmarket great little towns to raise a family, commute is about 45 min.There is Milton up west and Whitby and Pickering to the east. The are many choices you just need to consider and decide what is best for your family in a long run. Given your budget the other two main factors when picking the location will be your exact office location to make the commute reasonable, and the school you and your daughter are comfortable with.
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In these affluent areas, if you're renting a house, rent is around $2000 to $4000 a month plus utilities (cheap end would be basement unit only, or main floor only, expensive end is whole house). If you're renting a condo (2 bed 2 bath avg 700-1000 sqft) its likely around $2500-$3500 a month plus utilities.
To buy in these areas, 2 bed 2 bath condos are minimum $600K and up, townhomes minimum $700K, and detached houses are $1.2M (for the tear downs or small and outdated) and up.

If you realistically want to buy, I would look into Mississauga, Etobicoke, Oakville, close to a GO Train station, which are West, which all have great school catchment areas, and its cheaper to buy houses/ townhomes.

Land transfer tax in Toronto is double the rest of Ontario (see map in link). So a $1,000,000 property in Toronto would have a land transfer tax of $32,000 compared to Mississauga or Oakville which would be $16,000. (Note Etobicoke is still considered Toronto)
https://www.ratehub.ca/land-transfer-tax-toronto
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Mar 31, 2008
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Those super affluent areas with good ratings in mid/uptown-town... you're going to be playing keeping up with the Jones. And too rich, there's a different type of drama. Too high ranked, your child might feel discouraged.

High School is still a rough time, but all in all, Toronto is very tame. Don't have that bored suburban teenage angst thing going so no real crazy stuff.

You haven't named your budget, renting, buying, etc. Will spouse be working? Any other children? Those come into factor.
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Nov 13, 2013
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rob444 wrote: You need to call the school and ask, as they all have different policies.
For some highly ranked schools that are surrounded by lots of condos (like Earl Haig in North York), I believe they give registration preference to those living in freehold homes first, and then those living in condos get selected only if spaces are still available. In this North York area there are signs all over on new condos being built that students living there will need to be sent to schools in other school zones. So make sure you call and ask any school their policy for your specific situation, before making the move there.

Is this really true? They are allowed to discriminate in such a manner? In terms of new builds in a new area on the edge of the catchment area maybe that makes sense but I can't see how a condo built next to a freehold could get separate access.
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Nov 24, 2004
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fogetmylogin wrote: Is this really true? They are allowed to discriminate in such a manner? In terms of new builds in a new area on the edge of the catchment area maybe that makes sense but I can't see how a condo built next to a freehold could get separate access.
This has been going on for at least 15 years (I remember reading about it in the early 2000s). The school in question was sized for a time when the area was all detached or semi-detached homes and the population in the catchment area was much smaller. Now that there are tens of thousands more people living in the area, they drew a line based on the date of construction of the dwelling (IIRC).

The area tends to be very transient, with people moving in and out all the time (short-term rentals). A friend who lives in the area says that a substantial portion of the children in his kids' classes each September are gone by the end of the school year.
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fogetmylogin wrote: Is this really true? They are allowed to discriminate in such a manner? In terms of new builds in a new area on the edge of the catchment area maybe that makes sense but I can't see how a condo built next to a freehold could get separate access.
This is also the case here in Ottawa (Kanata North, were I live).
The city recently revamped boundaries, in which a new development of homes from a particular builder in the lower $500K, was cut off from one of the tops school in the area and forced them to re-enroll in a new school.

Definitely intentional, as the boundary did not include homes that started at $700K???
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Nov 13, 2013
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JHW wrote: This has been going on for at least 15 years (I remember reading about it in the early 2000s). The school in question was sized for a time when the area was all detached or semi-detached homes and the population in the catchment area was much smaller. Now that there are tens of thousands more people living in the area, they drew a line based on the date of construction of the dwelling (IIRC).

The area tends to be very transient, with people moving in and out all the time (short-term rentals). A friend who lives in the area says that a substantial portion of the children in his kids' classes each September are gone by the end of the school year.
vkizzle wrote: This is also the case here in Ottawa (Kanata North, were I live).
The city recently revamped boundaries, in which a new development of homes from a particular builder in the lower $500K, was cut off from one of the tops school in the area and forced them to re-enroll in a new school.

Definitely intentional, as the boundary did not include homes that started at $700K???
Interesting but it is not a condo detached rule even though it basically has that effect. So infill right next to the school wouldn't qualify? Still seems strange.
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fogetmylogin wrote: Interesting but it is not a condo detached rule even though it basically has that effect. So infill right next to the school wouldn't qualify? Still seems strange.
Yes that is what it comes down to, the effect is it splits the children in newer built condos and single-family homes into 2 classes.

As an example, here is the current registration rules from Earl Haig in North York: https://www.tdsb.on.ca/Find-your/Schools/schno/3430 (click on TDSB Notice: Brochure link).

• Grade 8 students who are currently living in all newly constructed residential units are not eligible to register for Earl Haig
Students in grades 9-12 who move into newly constructed residential buildings of more than 4 units within this area built after December 2000 will be directed to schools other than Earl Haig S.S


So I guess if you are in a condo build in the 90s, you would be accepted to attend. Although if the school attendance continued to climb over capacity, I'm sure they could arbitrarily change the rule to start excluding the older condos as well.

And the "more than 4 units" rule seems to exempt single-family homes from ever being excluded, no matter when they were constructed.
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if you havent been around north york in the past 3 years....it is very different...just look up. The density is pretty insane now.

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