Toronto Catholic board won’t expand single-gender schools

  • October 29, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - In the wake of calls to open all-boys schools by the Toronto public system, the Toronto Catholic District School Board said it has no plans to follow suit.

There are four all-boys schools in the Toronto Catholic school board right now, one — St. Michael’s Choir School — which is open to elementary school-age children.

Loretta Notten, superintendent for student success at the Toronto Catholic board, says the Catholic board’s single-gender schools have been academically successful over the years and provide parents with a variety of choices.

“Our goal is to be offering the best system so that the Catholic system remains a viable choice for parents and students,” she said.

Toronto District School Board education director Chris Spence is proposing a boys-only school targeting students from kindergarten to Grade 3. Spence called for single-sex classes, programs and schools for boys. He said studies show that boys are not performing as well as girls in school and have higher dropout rates.

Ashleigh Molloy, Toronto director for the Ontario Association of Parents in Catholic Education, says the decision to have more single-gender schools in the Catholic system should be based upon parent demand. The association, he said, supports having more choices for parents.

Molloy, a former Catholic school principal, told The Register there is a value in single-gender schools, but depending upon what best suits each individual child. 

James Ryan of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association said the need for more single-gender schools is a local decision by parents and “what works best for the local community.”

Mississauga’s Ascension of Our Lord High School teacher Vincent Martins has seen differences in the way boys and girls learn. He said there isn’t any harm in trying a new approach to help improve student performance.

“If it doesn’t work, you try another approach. If you do not try, you will not know,” Martins said.

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