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Neighborhood Schools (The good, the bad , the nightmare )

Hi everyone,

I am a proud leslieviller who supports our community in as many ways possible.

However, despite the charm of our neighborhood I have heard many negative comments about Duke of Connaught school. Comments range from rampant bullying to lack of engaged teachers due to the sheer size of the school. As you can imagine this is quite unsettling to a parent of a 3 year old who is poised to attend next year. I've had a few conversations with other parents who are even thinking of moving because of the "school situation".

This begs the following questions:
1. Is Duke really that bad a school ?
2. Am I unreasonable to consider moving as well ?

Thanks so much for the honest input and debate !

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Thank you for input on Duke.  I was hoping that someone would chime in on what Duke was actually like for the students who attend there.   You have not heard anything about bullying there? 


Just to add to Duke discussion - students have access to the pool at SH Armstrong as part of their phys ed curriculum (if the city doesn't close it). At any rate - my daughter loves being able to swim during the school week. They also have dedicated music teacher. I can't say enough about the music program. They have jr and sr choir and different bands. It is really excellent. You also have some options re: after school care including Greenwood, Applegrove and Armstrong. Each has their pros and cons. Our daughter attended Bruce 'til we enrolled her in extended French program at Duke for Gr 4. She is now in Gr 5. Our only experience with bullying was when she was at Bruce. I don't think this is a school specific issue. It will surface at any age and at any school. I'd recommend visiting the principal (he's new), attend a parent council meeting and if you're interested in the French programs there is usually an info night.

Hi all,

  we're on Alton, and Leslieville Jr. is our home school (so the boarder actually goes to the park). :)

  We did optional attendance to Duke for our childs JK year, and it was a nightmare! (though I'd not judge the entire school based on the behavior on 1 teacher). The pool is indeed a nice bonus.

  Leslieville Jr. has some great movie nights (a.k.a "Dinner and a Movie"), so I'd suggest maybe passing by with your lil'un for one of those? All of the schools in the area seem to do a "Fun Fair" of sorts at the end of the school year, so that may be a good way of meeting some of the parents/kids already attending that particular school and get their thoughts too.



Thanks everyone for this helpful discussion. We will be facing all these decisions over the next couple of years. We have also thought about selling but are happy to hear some good reviews of both Bruce and Leslieville. One of our concerns is the quality of French immersion in the area so any thoughts are appreciated.

I think it's unfortunate that a thread like this needs to even start about a school as fantastic as Duke.  My daughter has been there for 3 years now and my second daughter just started kindergarten this year.  The staff are incredible.  Easy to talk to, very open and friendly.  The SAC holds monthly movie nights or dances, there's an annual Santa's Breakfast and Fun Fair, the school hosts concerts, danceathons etc.  I'm very active in the school and not once have I been concerned about bullying.  There has been a change in administration this year and the new Principal is fantastic and has made a great school even better since his arrival.  

I would suggest you actually go to the school, attend a SAC meeting (the next one is on the 31st of January at 6:15 pm) or get on their mailing list, meet the parents and kids that attend the school and judge for yourself rather than listening to people who have no involvement with the school.  In my opinion I do think it's very unreasonable to move before even giving the school a chance but ultimately you have to do what's best for yourself and your family.  I do think you'll be missing out if you don't give Duke a chance.

I completely agree with Aron. I have my older daughter there and she is only in JK so we are still new to Duke but I am very happy with the school, her current teacher is excellent and most definitely engaged and the "climate of the school" is very positive. I am thrilled that she will not have to move schools to be in the early immersion program starting next yr.

Personally I would get informed with some first hand interaction before making any decisions.

I've lived across the street from Duke for over 13 years now and have seen the positive changes transpire during that time.  When we first moved in I definitely had a negative image of the school based on the kids I saw (the behaviour and the offensive language).  I also heard things from neighbours that reinforced that image.  However, a lot has changed in 13 years and more specifically in the last few years.  Duke has evolved just as the neighbourhood has.  I was prepared to send my son to private school rather than have him attend Duke but after seeing the school change and discovering that the French Immersion program was coming to the school we decided to enrol him in JK and see. I also joined the Parent Council (SAC) and met as many parents as I could to really get a feel of what the school was like.  My son loves it there.  He's in his 4th year and my youngest will be starting JK in Sept.  I have met some of the nicest, most caring teachers at this school...teachers who go above and beyond their job description.  There are so many activities for kids to join.  My son was doing yoga at lunch this fall and has now joined the art club but also had the option of joining the Lego club.  He's also in the choir and last year was in the French club.  Despite it being a big school, it doesn't feel like it. There are so many things about the Duke that makes it special.  Every school has its challenges but Duke is not the school it used to be.  I agree that you need to research it yourself.  Definitely go to the SAC meeting, meet the new principal, meet some parents and then make your decision.  Best of luck!

How about being a true "proud Leslieviller" by not being afraid of what you don’t know.  Not that long ago the whole of Leslieville was considered tough and gritty.  It took special, open-minded people to make the leap across the bridge.  And they found a hidden gem. 

A few years ago Duke became the French immersion catchment for almost all Leslieville schools.   And again, it took special open-minded people to make that leap into the reputed “bad” Duke of Connaught.  And you know what?  The ones that did found a gem.....and from my experience one that shines above Bruce/Leslieville/Morse/Pape in so many ways.


I have been a Duke parent for two years, when my child enrolled in the first class of SK French Immersion. We chose Duke over an offer of a spot at Withrow for a variety of reasons: the physical "plant" of the school was superior, it had a track and pool, and we were very happy with the principal - which in my view is always the most important aspect of a school. While Duke has changed leadership recently, everyone reports the new principal is doing as well as the last. Unlike other schools, Duke has a cafeteria, and a hot lunch program. This makes a big difference to learning - when kids all eat the same thing, they tend to actually eat it - and this does impact how your child does at school. Especially for young ones, you are not there to supervise what they eat, trade or toss. I found the parent council there very inclusive (even though I was one of the French parents, who of course were seen as challenging the existing culture of the school). This exists in any school where there is more than one program. I also appreciated the fact it was k-8, as most school are now turning to anyway, so my child had specialist teachers for gym, music etc. The school also separates the young ones from older students in terms of arrival and dismissal times, and primary/junior activities - again like most elementary schools. Whether you are considering English or French stream, I suggest you speak with a number of parents who are enrolled there - many contact me after we began to check it out, as we were the first year for SKFI. I have also been at Bruce for one year as part of the full day kindergarten program, and did benefit from the calibre of staff there at WoodGreen daycare. Duke also has a WoodGreen program within the school. Also, City of Toronto daycare at Coxwell walks to Duke. This can be the key reason a parents choses a school, or very important - whether they can also be provided with high quality licensed childcare.  We havemoved east, and now attend Kew Beach. There are a number of ways Duke is superior to Kew (a school many think is pretty spiffy). The grass isn't always greener...


My son goes to daycare at Connaught, and I would be happy to see him start his schooling there as well. If all parent's avoided sending their kids to a school based on a negative reputation, can you imagine the overcrowding there would be...not to mention the school closures.

Send your child to their neighbourhood school, be involved and make it a better place...not just for your child but for all the students who are attending.


I am a teacher who lives in Leslieville and will hopefully one day have a child who may attend one of the schools in our neighborhood (I work in North York).   I would suggest that if the parent community has concerns about a school that you come together and approach the school administrator in the spirit of collaboration:  Parents have a lot of power you just need to work together-and with the school- to come up with solutions to your concerns.  Leslieville is a neighborhood in transition and it is up to our community to support and insist on high standards, as well as to 'walk the walk' and be willing to support the neighborhood schools by being active on parent councils, etc.  As an "insider" I haven't heard anything about "the Duke" but it is a different family of schools from me, so I cannot comment on it's reputation.  I have a friend with a child attending the F.I. program and she likes the school.  You could also check out their online profile with EQAO results to have a better idea of their academics.  I have to say though, that the size of a school is NOT a factor in teacher engagement, student success or academic achievement.  Thorncliffe Park is the largest school in North America and it is a wonderful place. Best of luck! 

Great idea but I'd first suggest you actually go to the school and see it before approaching anyone about a change. ;)

LMA said:

H I would suggest that if the parent community has concerns about a school that you come together and approach the school administrator in the spirit of collaboration:  Parents have a lot of power you just need to work together-and with the school- to come up with solutions to your concerns.  

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