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.

Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose (formerly Mission Statement)

In the words of Dr. Ursula Franklin: “Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice and the absence of fear …, and it is this philosophy that guides the vision of the Ursula Franklin Academy community.  By focusing on learning through an anti-oppression stance, we respond to the complexity, diversity, and the beauty of the world around us.  As a community we work in unison to both better understand and shape the future by focusing on the inter-relatedness of all curriculum to Ursula’s areas of expertise – Science, Mathematics, Technology, Social Justice, and Peace Activism.  In doing so we continuously develop the tools that enable us to think critically about our world and the place we want to have in it.

Our integrated learning touchstones include the Wednesday Enrichment Program, our focus on cross-curricular instruction, and extra-curricular activities which allow Ursula Franklin Academy to activate around the key issues of social and economic justice.  Fundamentally, at Ursula Franklin Academy we recognize that students, teachers, staff, parents, guardians, advocates, mentors, and alumni have an important role to play in educating and supporting one another as we each endeavour to become, as Ursula suggests, “personally happy and publicly useful”.

April 2018

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 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.

Affirmation of School Values

Throughout the 2017-18 school year the UFA community began to re-work a values and mission/vision statement for the school (now referred to as the Statement of Purpose). The values below set a clear direction for the UFA community going forward.  Our values and vision will formally be reviewed again in 2030.

Our Current School Values

Values of the School
At Ursula Franklin Academy, our values inform everything we do and believe to be important. When the school was founded in 1995, the original educators set out to build a school that would prepare our youth to lead and thrive in a rapidly changing world.  Once we had established the core values for this new school, we sought a worthy individual to be our namesake.  Dr. Ursula Franklin valued pacifism, social justice activism, and the importance of looking critically at how we use technology – all values that blended perfectly with how we wanted to run the school.  The five school values below guide us in creating a community where students can integrate their learning, take risks, continue to develop confidence and resilience, and, in the words of Dr. Franklin herself, go on to live lives that are “personally happy and publicly useful.”

Community of Learners
… All members of our community – teachers, staff, students, parents, guardians, advocates, alumni, community members – participate in the teaching and learning process.

  • Students apply from all over the city, making Ursula Franklin Academy an intentional community.
  • Our community welcomes and values diversity among our students, not only culturally, but also in terms of learning styles, recognizing that our differences enrich our learning.
  • The small size of our school helps to contribute to a sense of community.
  • Our school uniform enhances our sense of community, and our sense of belonging.
  • Because we understand that a community is based on caring relationships and friendships, we run events such as the New Family Potluck and the Grade Nine Retreat that help students new to our community transition smoothly and happily.
  • Students from all grades get to know one another through the Wednesday Enrichment Program, and friendships form over shared interests.
  • Students are encouraged to exceed the province-mandated 40 hours of community service, both within the school and the larger community.
  • Students call teachers by their first names, promoting a greater sense of community and connection.

Connected Knowledge
… Recognizing relationships between disciplines and contexts to bring learning from one area into others.

  • Teachers often cooperate to create integrated course projects and curriculum, especially in the junior grades, where students are timetabled into core groups, taking multiple courses with the same classmates. This “coring” helps student make meaningful connections between subject disciplines, and to pursue more in-depth group projects.
  • Our unique schedule, which includes a full day of enrichment each week, leads to an accelerated pace in regular classes. This requires students to be self-directed learners and maintain high expectations of themselves.
  • The Wednesday Enrichment Program permits students to make many connections across the various disciplines.
  • We hold student-run, full-school conferences to bring the outside world into the school, with keynote speakers and smaller breakout sessions, on topics of social importance.

Spirit of Inquiry
… The desire and initiative to seek and learn new topics, connections, and ideas.

  • At Ursula Franklin Academy, there is a strong tradition of academic excellence and we value academic integrity.
  • We recognize that working hard, taking risks, and facing occasional failure are all important parts of learning.
  • Teachers work hard to create a classroom environment that is safe for questioning and the expression of opinions.
  • Teachers are often flexible and open to student input regarding assessment approaches.
  • Students’ curiosity is encouraged and exercised through the incredibly wide array of topics offered through the Wednesday Enrichment Program.
  • Students are encouraged to propose and lead Wednesday Sessions on topics of interest to themselves and their peers.
  • Teachers and students alike engage in regular reflection of how our use of technology is – or is not – advancing our needs as learners and citizens.

… The shared responsibility for decision-making among community members.

  • We recognize that citizens play an active role in shaping their society, and encourage students to pursue activism as they identify issues.
  • Democratic values are promoted, with an understanding that rights are paired with responsibilities, and that the interests of the individual have to be weighed against the interest of the whole community.
  • A high priority is placed on student participation. Ursula Franklin Academy students are involved in many leadership roles within the school.
  • At Ursula Franklin Academy, students have a say in how things are run. There is an active Student Council with elected grade representatives who meet weekly.
  • With the Wednesday Enrichment Program, students have the autonomy to choose what they learn and how they learn.
  • We attempt to reflect a diversity of opinions in decision-making, when possible, by coming together for transparent and collaborative discussion – the “scrupling” approach, as practiced by Dr. Franklin.

Social Justice
… The concept that fairness should extend to all members of society.

  • At Ursula Franklin Academy, we believe that every person must be treated with respect, and we understand that equality is not the same thing as equity.
  • Through course curriculum in all grades, Wednesday Enrichment Sessions, the Grade Nine Retreat, and a variety of clubs, Ursula Franklin Academy actively teaches about and promotes the values of social justice. Students, teachers, and staff are involved in recognizing prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code (race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted) and actively opposing  related prejudices.
  • Our school uniform helps to make a level playing field for all students.
  • Through a reflective lens, students are encouraged to develop empathy for others and confidence in themselves.
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

Descriptor of an UFA applicant

  • We encourage students to consider if UFA’s purpose and values align with their beliefs.
  • Applicants should be self motivated to produce their best work and demonstrate commitment to a challenging and rigorous learning environment.
  • All potential applicants and their parents/guardians/caregivers should attend Ursula Franklin Academy’s Open House on November 14, 2023  to gain insight and understanding of our school’s unique culture and programming.