The academic program at Stratford Hall prepares students for the challenges of the next level. Ultimately, students are poised to be successful during post-secondary study. We meet or exceed all British Columbia Ministry of Education requirements.
Literacy involves communication and understanding in English. Beginning at kindergarten, students learn about the world through reading, talking and discussing, and express themselves through oral and written work. The nature of the IB Primary Years Programme lends itself to literacy work that is fully integrated into the areas being studied. By grade 12, students are writing full university-level papers, in all subjects, and reading advanced texts.
Numeracy at kindergarten involves counting and identifying numbers, and as students progress through the grades they learn all of the mathematics required for university-level work. An important feature of the IB is that mathematics is a required subject through to graduation. Teachers work hard to integrate mathematics into other subject areas, so that students understand how mathematics is not only theoretical, but also practical.
Second language instruction is important for the IB program. Students are introduced to Spanish at kindergarten. French is added at grade 7 and in grade 9 students must choose one language to pursue until graduation. An important feature of the IB Diploma is that students who have another first language have the option of studying it as one of the grade 11 and 12 subjects. Students who choose Spanish at grades 9 and 10 have the option of an exchange program with an IB school in Barcelona; this involves spending 10 days in Barcelona and hosting students from Barcelona for 10 days here in Vancouver. This exchange is with another IB school, so students have common background on which to build their relationships. A similar French exchange will be developed in the near future. At all levels, specialists teach our second languages.
Scientific discovery is important from kindergarten, where students begin their learning by understanding their senses. Science topics are discussed in the context of big ideas in the Primary Years Program, and through subject area study from grades 6 to 12. The school has extensive science equipment, and many teachers with science backgrounds. Starting in grade 6, students have access to a university-level laboratory.
The International Baccalaureate looks at the roles of the individual in society through interdisciplinary study, right from kindergarten. Social studies topics often connect to science, literature and mathematics. Students engage in research that leads to report-writing, debates, or discussion. Often, the content is related to real issues that are occurring in the world at the time.
In all cases, academic subjects encourage critical thinking. Often this is accomplished through inquiry: asking questions of increasing complexity. In the Primary Years Programme, the questioning is directed through the ‘concepts’, which look at eight types of questioning. In the Middle Years Programme, students are challenged with overarching questions that require thinking to occur in several disciplines. In the Diploma Programme, students are taught to research deeply, often from primary sources, so that they can elaborate on ideas and defend their opinions.