At Sidorova Inwood, we count ourselves lucky that we consistently get to work with some of the most delightful families in Toronto. One of the most rewarding feelings in our industry is getting to work closely with a family, forming a genuine bond with them, and then helping them move into a home that truly suits their unique personalities.
After working with so many large families with school-aged children, we know that one of their main search parameters when looking for that perfect family home is based around schools. Every parent wants to ensure their children get the best education possible, but in Toronto’s public school system, that largely depends on where you live.
As we’re always answering questions about schools and school districts, we decided to put together this guide to our top picks when it comes to Toronto’s best high schools in the west end and which neighbourhoods families must live in for their kids to get into them.
Do you have Elementary School-aged children at home too? Find out which west end primary schools we always recommend to our clients by reading about Our Top 5 West End Toronto Schools here!
Ursula Franklin Academy
Situated just north of High Park at 146 Glendonwynne Road, Ursula Franklin Academy (UFA) is absolutely one of the best secondary schools in Toronto’s west end.
While UFA has always called the city’s west end home, the physical location of the school changed in 2002 when UFA moved into the same physical building as the Western Technical-Commercial School and The Student School. Because of this, UFA’s admissions process doesn’t include a traditional ‘feeder’ process where students are welcomed based on where they live.
Instead, students graduating Grade 8 who want to attend secondary school at UFA must go through a formal application process, which includes writing an entrance exam on top of being lucky enough to win a spot through a competitive admissions lottery.
Getting your kids ready for back-to-school can feel like a never-ending puzzle. To help you get sorted, we’ve put together our Back To School Checklist here.
With annual enrolment numbers set at a hard cap of 500 students, there’s always stiff competition to get into UFA, and it’s easy to see why. While UFA follows the standard curriculum of the Toronto District School Board, they go above and beyond by placing a large focus on developing students’ cross-curricular, future-oriented skills. These include skills such as “conflict resolution, computer technology, problem-solving, student leadership, and exposure to international languages,” according to their curriculum.
According to the widely-acclaimed, highly-trusted Fraser Institute School Rankings system, which uses objective, publicly available data to rate and rank schools across Ontario, UFA is a fantastic school too. Scoring a thoroughly impressive 9.2 out of 10, UFA is by far the highest-rated secondary school in Toronto’s west end in the eyes of the Fraser Institute.
In addition to being a great school district, High Park is easily among the most beautiful neighbourhoods in west Toronto. Learn more about this amazing community in our High Park Neighbourhood Guide.
Humberside Collegiate Institute
Situated almost equidistant between both High Park and The Junction neighbourhoods at 280 Quebec Avenue, many secondary school students based in Toronto’s west end will be thankful they qualify to attend Humberside Collegiate Institute.
One of the west end’s oldest secondary schools, Humberside Collegiate Institute (colloquially known as Humberside) was established in 1892 — with the exterior of the school strongly reflecting that. Humberside’s landmark building in the west end is a shining example of tasteful restoration and maintenance of beautiful Toronto heritage architecture.
While the school’s original red brick exterior and copper roof beckon back to it’s late 19th century roots, the interior of the school has been exceptionally updated to today’s modern standards. Although Humberside is celebrated for much more than just its physical location.
Alongside the standard Toronto District School Board education curriculum, Humberside also has a very well developed French language program, with nearly half of their 1,200 students studying French through their Extended French and Immersion French Programs. Humberside is also well-known for their strong Music Program, which has helped produce global talents of today like singer-songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson and drummer Alexander Sowinski.
It won’t surprise you to know that Humberside CI also fares well according to the Fraser Institute rankings, scoring a well above average rating of 7.7 out of 10.
For as long as we’ve been in the real estate business, we’ve always had a soft spot for The Junction. Learn more about what makes it so special to us and their local community in our The Junction Neighbourhood Guide here.
St.-Frère-André Catholic Secondary School
Found at 330 Lansdowne Avenue just east of Roncesvalles, St.-Frère-André Catholic Secondary School is definitely one of our top choices when talking about the west end’s best secondary schools.
As a French-language Roman Catholic school in Toronto, St.-Frère-André isn’t your typical Toronto secondary school, and neither is their admissions system. St.-Frère-André actually welcomes students from Grades 7 through to Grade 12.
St.-Frère-André’s curriculum is also somewhat unique as it’s based around the Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir school board system, which only operates in 11 secondary schools across the province.
What does that look like for secondary school students of St.-Frère-André? They have six specialized programs targeted at cultivating the well-being and success of students to choose from, including the world-renowned IB Diploma Program along with MHS, PSAT, OYAP, COOP, and Dual Credit Program courses.
While this might sound like a lot to choose from, in the case of St.-Frère-André, it’s proven to be a very productive system. According to our old reliable friend the Fraser Institute School Rankings system, St.-Frère-André scores a gleaming 8.5 out of 10!
When it comes to west end Toronto neighbourhoods, it’s hard to do better than the vibrant and perennially exciting Roncesvalles. Learn more about why this west end community is so highly valued in our Roncesvalles Neighbourhood Guide here.
Etobicoke School Of The Arts
While the Etobicoke School Of The Arts (ESA) is technically located in the community of Etobicoke at 675 Royal York Road, many families who live east of the dividing Humber River will be relieved to know that ESA’s admissions are open to any student who lives in a neighbourhood with an ‘M’ postal code.
As you may have already deciphered from the name, ESA is a specialized arts-focused academic high school in Toronto’s west end. And, while the school was only founded four decades ago in 1981, it’s actually the oldest free-standing arts-focused high school in Canada.
Intertwined with a traditional academic curriculum based around the study of subjects such as mathematics, science, languages, and social sciences, ESA also provides the opportunity for their secondary school-aged students to specialize in an arts program of their choice. With comprehensively developed programs catering to Dance, Drama, Film, Music Band or Strings, Music Theatre, and Contemporary Arts, ESA truly is a dream come true for their talented students.
It’s no easy process to be admitted into ESA, however. As we stated above, admissions are open to any student living within the ‘M’ postal code, which accounts for most of Toronto. Once a student’s online application is submitted, they will be called on to audition for one or two arts majors of their choice. If a student passes their audition and is admitted to the school, they will need to choose one focus of study to major in.
Given such a strong focus on arts-based areas of study, you might think ESA’s traditional academics might fall by the wayside somewhat. However, that’s far from the truth, with students still scoring high marks across the board on traditional areas of study according to their data and statistics. After the Fraser Institute took a deep into those objective student performance statistics, they awarded ESA with a brilliant score of 7.9 out of 10.
Bishop Allen Academy
Located in The Queensway neighbourhood of Etobicoke, on a ravine that borders Mimico Creek, Bishop Allen Academy is a fantastic local Catholic secondary school. There’s no shortage of reasons why this great high school makes our list.
Positioned as a school ideal for “highly motivated” students who love learning, Bishop Allen has numerous programs designed to help high-performing students excel. In addition to offering standard Academic and Applied courses, Bishop Allen also offers French Immersion and Advanced Placement Programs, which enable motivated grade 11 and 12 students to gain college or university credits while still in high school.
Bishop Allen is also known for having the largest Gifted Program in the TCDSB with over 130 gifted students participating.
If your child is an artistic type, Bishop Allen also boasts co-curricular programs including vocal and instrumental music, visual art, and drama.
As you can expect, Bishop Allen Academy is a popular school, and, as a result, in recent years the number of new admissions has greatly outpaced the space available. As a result, the school mandates that students who attended elementary school in close proximity to the high school will be given priority.
Scoring a 7.4 from the Fraser Institute, Bishop Allen Academy also consistently ranks high and outperforms the average numbers when it comes to rankings.
Still not completely sure where you and your family should plant your roots? Find out which are the Best Neighbourhoods In Toronto For Young Families here.