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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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In response to your question of moving to avoid Duke, I have to let you know, we moved to be closer to Duke.

As first time parents we fell for all the horror stories about Duke and had our first child  bussed all the way to the other end of Queen.  It was a fine school but he was miserable and just wanted to be with his friends from the neighbourhood.  In grade three we finally moved him to Duke.  His first week at Duke he came home beaming and announced that he loved Duke and felt "comfortable." 

We are so happy that our youngest two have the privledge of being at Duke from JK, the beginning of their educational careers.

Our three children have very different interests.   The classes and programs at Duke keep them all  engaged and  happy.

Our eldest in grade six loves sports.  Duke has teams for hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, volleyball, swimming and many others.   The principal himself has been known to toss around a football with the kids at lunch time.  Most schools are not able to have as many sports teams.  We are very lucky at Duke to have such engaging, dedicated teachers willing to give their time for our kids to participate in these teams. 

Our second child may not be into sports but he has found his place at Duke as a proud member of the Lego Club, Reading Club and Art Club.  Once again, these clubs are run by engaging, dedicated teachers who care about nurturing our kids.

In addition to these activities, Duke shares space with a Parks and Recreation centre and a Community Complex.  Our kids attend music lessons, swimming and other activites such as gymnastics and ballet at these centres.  The Parent/Child Drop In Centre made the transition to JK seamless for our two youngest.   We often joke that we live on campus because everything we need for our children is found on the Duke site.

As for bullying,  we did have a bullying issue.  But, we spoke to the Principal and he dealt with it right away.  In his own words "Bullying does not fly at my school".  I will add that there were also issues with bullying at the other school our son attended which has an excellent reputation.  Sadly, bullying appears to occur in all schools.  The difference is how the school handles it.  I have to say that at Duke, bullying is not tolerated and dealt with right away.

As for teachers not being engaging because of class size, this is incorrect.  Classroom size is set by TDSB.  No classroom is ever too big for a teacher to handle.  If issues ever arise, we find it easy to discuss the situation with the teacher or the Principal to have the matter resolved.

I cannot say enough about the parent involvement at Duke.  We have a very active School Advisory Council with monthly movie nights, dances, spirit days, fun fair, Santa's Breakfast and other family events.  Parents are also welcome to help out at our wonderful hot lunch program, which is another bonus at Duke. There is a great community feeling at Duke and we all look out for each other's children. 

So, my long response is to give Duke a chance before deciding to move.  Attend an SAC meeting, movie night or game.  Talk to parents and staff and then make your own decision.  I would hate for you to have to go through what we did because of wrong assumptions about Duke.  Good luck to you and your family. 

 

Thank you, Claudia.  I found your contribution really helpful as we prepare for our son to change schools for Grade Seven.  We will be at the information night when it takes place in a couple of weeks. 

Eloise (and others interested in more Duke info) the School Advisory Council has an email where information is sent out to parents on a regular basis.  If you're interested in more info or having your name added to the email list send an "add me" email to: dukeschoolcouncil@gmail.com.

Are you being serious?  Self defense course?  What kind of school did you attend?  And where? 

 

ChrisG said:

I'm not familiar with that school, but I did grow up in the public school system. If you wish to go that route I would start enrolling your child in self defense courses asap. The public school system is prison for children. It's not a pretty place for the weak.

I'm glad I stumbled into this discussion, we are shopping for a house in the neighborhood, one of our concerns however is the academic rankings of the schools which no one commented on in this thread. The Fraser institute for example gives Jackman 8.6 while Duke of Connaught gets 4.6. How important/accurate do you think these metrics are?

http://ontario.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/SchoolsByAreaMa...

Sami, with our first son we also looked at The Fraser Institute rankings and sent  him to a school that had top rankings.  Duke was our school but had lower rankings.   We switched him to Duke in grade three.   What I can tell you about those rankings, in my opinion, they don't make a difference.  He received wonderful, personal attention from teachers at both schools regardless of the scoring given by The Fraser Institute. Our other kids have been at Duke since JK and have received a good education so far and are doing very well.  Maybe someone else can explain exactly what The Fraser Institute scores really mean and why we should not pick our schools based on these scores.

I would strongly caution against solely basing any decision on the Fraser Institutes rankings.  Their rankings are primarily based on EQAO results.  Standardized testing is not an accurate measure of a school.  Many factors play into how a student scores on a standardized test and test scores are not necessarily reflective of the quality of teaching at the school.  Nor do they take in to account all of the extras that a school offers to students.  I am not advocating for or against Duke of Connaught but I am definitely asking that you take a look at the school as a whole and not the rankings of a right wing think tank that has a specific agenda (this may only be an opinion, but is a widely held one).  Even if you do agree with the Fraser Institute, you owe it to your kids to find out the whole story. As an educator, I ask that you make your decision on as much evidence as you can.  More information exists out there than just the Fraser Institute's rankings.  Jackman may receive one of the highest rankings and is a great school for sure, however, every school is different and so is every child.  If you have choice (not everyone does) find the best fit by thoroughly researching and visiting the possible schools. 

Sami Kazemi said:

I'm glad I stumbled into this discussion, we are shopping for a house in the neighborhood, one of our concerns however is the academic rankings of the schools which no one commented on in this thread. The Fraser institute for example gives Jackman 8.6 while Duke of Connaught gets 4.6. How important/accurate do you think these metrics are?

http://ontario.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/SchoolsByAreaMa...

Love this post.  Same questions went through my mind many times over the years.  My 11-year-old is in Withrow French immersion and 9-year-old in Pape. Our home school was Blake which we decided not to put our kids into for the same reasons people hesitated from Duke.  My younger one went to Woodgreen child care center in Lesilevill P.S. which she didn't like other than 1 staff, then we sent her to Pape Children's House which she enjoyed from day one and all staff are excellent, that was how she continued in Pape P.S.  Looking back I think we made the right choices.  Even though both schools are rated well in EQAO, they are very different schools with different demographics.  A "richer" school w/ a lot of fundraising activities may have more lunch time and after school programs, but you likely will be required to pay more for the programs and pizza lunch than the less fortunate schools and you don't necessarily get better teachers.  An independent and confident child can probably survive nicely in any school environment, but for a child who needs a lot of help and attention, choosing a right school is quite important.  Out of all the factors a school can offer, good teachers are more important than anything else.  When my 11-year-old had 3 different teachers last year (one on maternity leave, one fired/moved away, last one young but good), she was quite frustrated at times.  After moving to the neighbourhood last year, I considered transferring my children to Duke, but neither wanted to move schools because of their friends.  Downside of not attending a neighbourhood school is they don't have friends in the neighbourhood, the upside is they are not distracted as often when doing their homework.  Glad to see people care so much about their neighbourhood school and Duke's future is quite bright.  We will support the neighbourhood by attending local camps and programs.

thank you all for your replies, very insightful.

Both my boys went to Duke.  They were involved in the great music and sports programs.  Again this is a few years ago.  Keep in mind, that the principal really is what makes the school.  If the principal doesn't empower the teachers then the school as a whole suffers.  This is across Toronto.

Duke also has the pool (fingers crossed it doesn't close) and two gyms.  There is also a daycare onsite, run by Woodgreen, that also is excellent.

And with it being in walking distance from home we didn't have to drive them to school, it was an easy walk.  They made friends there that they continue with today. 

Duke seemed to have a poor reputation when my boys were there, however, it was parents whose children were not at the school and it was this hearsay.  The teachers were amazing, some having done their whole career at the school which to me says a lot as well.

We were always pleased with Duke.  Sure it's big, but it does go from jk to grade 8. And the large numbers derive from it being a feeder school - Leslieville and Bruce students move to Duke after grade 6.  When my boys were there, there were maybe 2 of each grade there at the most.  Grade 7 and 8 - many more due to the transfers in.

You are unreasonable to think you need to move.  Some of the schools that people praise - I'm sorry but I just don't get it.  It is a bit of a snobbish attitude.  I also have heard Kew and Jackman aren't the be all and end all.

Having said all this, I have heard that both Bruce and Leslieville are great schools as well.

Does anyone have any experience with Dundas Jr. Public school? Either positive or negative. Thanks very much :)

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