Our School

Ursula Franklin Academy is one of three schools housed within our beautiful, 90+ year-old building. Our school, like Western Technical-Commercial School and THESTUDENTSCHOOL, has very distinct space within this school complex, on the Glendonwynne Road side of the building. We use shared facilities such as the auditorium, pool, and indoor and outdoor physical education areas.

Mission Statement

Ursula Franklin Academy is a small community of learners that offers integrated liberal arts and sciences packages at the advanced level, preparing students for academic programs at the post-secondary level.  The learning experiences offered at Ursula Franklin Academy will reflect not only the learning expectations identified by the Province and the Toronto District School Board, but also the students’ own interests, developing a sense of responsibility and individual accomplishments.  Cross-curricular future-oriented skills such as conflict resolution, computer technology, problem-solving, student leadership, and exposure to international languages will be emphasized.

UFA School Values

When Ursula Franklin Academy opened in September 1995 our mandate was to prepare students for the future and for a changing world.  How did we accomplish this?  We accomplished this by delivering a first-rate program that adhered to a set of values that were established for the school:  a Community of Learners;  High Expectations; Diversity; Self-esteem; Democracy; Community Service; Connected Knowledge; Spirit of Inquiry; Social Justice. These original school values formed the foundation of the school  by informing direction and guidance in the early years. 

The Original School Values (1995)

Community of Learners

At UFA, we are all learners and we all have something to teach. Students and faculty take advantage of the Wednesday Enrichment Program.   Students learn from their peers in mixed grade settings. Leadership is cultivated and encouraged through students proposing and leading Enrichment Wednesday Session.  Our community extends beyond the walls of the school through our Cooperative Education program where students earn academic credits through experience in a real work environment.  Parents round our community of learners as presenters in class and leaders in the Wednesday Sessions.  Our school uniform is what most clearly identifies us as a community, and we don our school colours and  wear uniforms with pride.

High Expectations & Spirit of Inquiry

Students at Ursula Franklin Academy take their studies seriously. They work for themselves, and for their teachers.  Through a fostered appreciation for curiosity and Spirit of Inquiry, students set goals and work to achieve them.  Enrichment and extra-help is always available – students just need to ask. Teachers and our peer tutoring club PASS (Peers Assisting Student Success) are happy to give one-on-one extra help or clarification.  Students are encouraged to keep one eye focused on future directions through mandatory Guidance Enriched Wednesday Sessions in Grade 11 and Grade 12. Most students attend post-secondary institutes in every imaginable discipline. Ursula Franklin Academy encourages exploration in all post-secondary pathways including college, university, apprenticeships, and the workplace.

Diversity

Ursula Franklin Academy draws students from across the city, and the Greater-Toronto Area.  The school has an ethnically, racially, and socio-economically diverse population.  With deep roots supportive of human rights, students are exposed to various tenants of social justice at the school.  Through curricular and extra-curricular programs, students are exposed to issues of discrimination based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and class, and are encouraged to take action to support the oppressed.  Our staff and students together promote a school culture that is a safe, respectful, and inclusive community.  Peer mediators are selected and participate in training to learn about the principles of conflict resolution and put them to use when a dispute arises.

Self Esteem

Ursula Franklin Academy is a small school which makes it possible to get to know almost everyone.  Students are encouraged to make many connections with those in their grade, with other students via Enrichment Wednesday Sessions, through participation in clubs and teams, and with staff.  Participation in all aspects of school life is a great way to make friends, to get the most out of your high school, and to build self-esteem.

During times of stress, students can take a moment to reflect, breathe and refocus in the Peace Room.  It’s a quiet meditative space where one can sit quietly and be mindful of the capable and unique individual one is.

Democracy and Social Justice

Student, staff and parent voices are all important and integral to the Ursula Franklin Community.  The school structure is based on a flattened hierarchy model, and staff, parents and students refer to one another on a first-name basis to assist in deconstructing traditional teacher-student dynamics.  Students are encouraged to have their voices heard through Student Council, the Franklin Athletic Association, and Students Against Sexual Stereotyping (SASS), the school’s three main leadership councils.  Various student-led conferences (Upstream, Mental Health, and African Heritage) serve to bring current issues in society to the forefront, and provide a mechanism for the school community to be educated, to be exposed to real-life issues and for individuals to question, to celebrate, and to act.

Community Service

Ursula Franklin Academy was one of the first schools in Ontario to require its students to complete community service hours. Now, all Ontario students require 40 hours to graduate.  Students are encouraged to take advantage of in-school opportunities to put in some volunteer time, as well as giving back to the community.

Connected Knowledge

At Ursula Franklin Academy, students in Grade 9 and Grade 10 are scheduled into Core Groups to facilitate integrated learning and assessment.  In Grade 9 Geography, English and Business Studies (BTT) are scheduled for core groupings, while in Grade 10 History and English are cored.  Students are encouraged to put their “all” into the integrated projects.  These assignments can prove to be the most valuable and can really expand intellectual horizons. 

The Wednesday Enrichment Program was revamped and rebooted in the 2015-2016 school year with a new interface, a technologically savvy web presence and achievement milestones in the form of a “badge” system.  Students are encouraged to choose courses thoughtfully and to risk choices outside their comfort zone.  Students can download their Wednesday Enrichment Program transcripts to use for academic and employment purposes.

Students are encouraged to be creative with assignments. If a student can think of a unique spin to put on a project, they are encouraged to do so! Students can suggest to a teacher a unique approach to a project or an assignment and are even encouraged to look at how it may integrate with an assignment or project for another course. 

Integrated technology is now woven into the fabric of society.  As a school on the cutting edge when it opened in 1995, Ursula Franklin Academy continues to strive for cross-curricular use of technology.  As academic leaders we also encourage discussions related to the use and overuse of technology; the impact of social and other medias on the human condition; the value of technologies in supporting human rights; and the various other myriad of social, emotional, psychological, and economic implications of technology in our society.

Affirmation of School Values

Throughout the 2005-06 school year, our ten-year anniversary, the UFA community began to re-work a vision statement for the school. This is an ongoing process and we hope the conversation about our values and vision continues as we move past our 20th Anniversary.

Our Current School Values - A Vision for UFA

Community of Learner

  • All members of the community sharing responsibility for teaching and learning
  • Caring for all members of our community
  • Employing thoughtful use of technology in the service of all values
  • Fostering the desire to learn
Connected Knowledge
  • Education for the real world
  • Emphasizing active learning and evaluation through demonstration
  • Integration across disciplinary boundaries in the Enriched Wednesday Program and all courses
Spirit of Inquiry
  • Students and staff striving for personal excellence
  • Valuing hard work and discipline
  • Emphasizing academic integrity
  • Developing studies based on real questions growing from natural human curiosity
Democracy
  • An appreciation of diversity
  • Evaluation in a transparent and understandable manner
  • Prioritizing student participation in forming the questions that guide learning
  • Promoting democratic values
  • Working together for the common good
  • Supporting being informed and getting involved
Social Justice
  • Teaching and learning to become global citizens
  • Treating all as people, worthy of respect as individuals
  • Participation in community service
  • Working toward social justice in school and in the world at large
Our Common Goals
  • Focus on the UFA community and give us a communal sense of purpose beyond the curriculum
  • Allow teachers to incorporate school values in their approach, teaching methodology, and evaluation
  • Build values-based continuity in classes to help students understand their importance and follow through with them in and out of school
  • Support the administration to make good decisions that shape the school experience
  • Clarify for prospective students and parents whether and why they want to attend UFA
  • Clarify what makes us different from other schools
How our History Informs the Process
  • We are a small school, and we want to maintain a friendly, supportive community
  • We are rooted in the ideas of Dr. Ursula Franklin, especially the thoughtful use of technology and practicing friendship in learning
  • We have a strong tradition of social justice work and we continue teaching and practicing democracy
  • We have always emphasized learning that is connected to the real world. We would like to continue the inquiry-based learning and authentic evaluation practices developed over the years
  • We are an academic school preparing students for university, college and the world
  • We aim to develop well-rounded students using integrated learning – a curriculum that teaches students to cross-pollinate their knowledge and skills from one course to another; the curriculum should encourage creative thought and in-depth thinking rather than rote learning
  • The relationship of students to each other and to staff is one of mutual respect