Ursula Franklin Academy (UFA) is a small specialized high school in the Toronto District School Board. The school is capped at 500 students, by design. The school offers integrated liberal arts and sciences packages, 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.
At Ursula Franklin Academy, a school focused on social justice, we are committed to ensuring that fairness, equity, and inclusion are essential principles of our school community and are integrated into our registration process, programs, operations, and practices. Ursula Franklin Academy follows the Equitable Policy practices as outlined on the TDSB website.
Our social justice roots and school values inform our decision making. Students and teachers work together on a first-name basis to help deconstruct hierarchical structures.
Ursula Franklin Academy has a focus or specialization in the following areas:
- Wednesday Enrichment Program
- Math and Science Programming
- Social Justice-anti oppression integration through all the curriculum areas
- Integrated Technology
Informed by Connected Knowledge, a core principle of Ursula Franklin Academy, the thoughtful integration of technology has been central to the design of the school’s structure. Beginning in Grade Nine, all students take BTT, a course that teaches them a wide variety of computer/digital media based skills. This knowledge is then integrated into all their other coursework, both in formal (via summative projects) and informal ways.
Additionally, the students are taught critical digital literacy throughout their time at UFA. Here students thoughtfully interrogate the effects of living in a world that is shaped by technology. It is of note that exploring the myriad ways technology is integrated into their lives is directly informed by the work of our namesake Dr. Ursula Franklin, who recognised that it is critical to investigate how technology shapes our experience of the world around us.
The Wednesday Program
The Wednesday Program is the most unique aspect of Ursula Franklin Academy. On most Wednesdays throughout the year students do not participate in their regular classes. Instead they participate in ‘Wednesday Sessions’. Each year students take up to 24 mini-courses (Wednesday Sessions) spread over six units. This is over and above the regular eight credit courses they take annually to graduate high school. While faculty run many of the sessions, they are not the only ones to teach these courses: students, parents, and community members all contribute to offer a wide variety of exciting educational experiences for our students. The content of these courses is as varied as the passions and interests of the members that make up the UFA community.
Some examples include: Robotics, Debating, Literary Reviews, Yoga, Walking Tours, along with many other wonderful opportunities for skill-based learning and “out of the box” experiences. If a student wants to propose a Wednesday session they can use our Wednesday Program website to design and propose their own session for teachers to consider supporting. In this way the program is responsive to student voice in a very direct and concrete way.
In order to facilitate this unique program into our weekly schedule, the course curriculum is condensed into the other four days of the week. In this way, the curriculum may feel accelerated to UFA students.
As a small school by design, the school does not have as wide an offering of courses as some other schools. Students should review the courses offered to ensure that their interests are going to be met within the school. Our curriculum is delivered following the Ontario Provincial Curriculum. The academic program at Ursula Franklin Academy is rigorous due to the pace at the school.
The student uniform policy was originally conceived by parents, students, staff and Dr. Franklin to meet two major objectives: an aid in working towards developing a sense of equity; and in helping to maintain a strong sense of community. At the time of selection the combination of colours did not represent any country represented by the United Nations – an important consideration to ensure the school uniform did not take on any unintended meaning or representation.
In November 2022, students may apply for admissions to Grades 9 and 10. Students will be admitted in Grade 10 if space is available.
Dr. Ursula Franklin, Ursula Franklin Academy’s namesake, valued pacifism, social justice activism, and the importance of looking critically at how we use technology. Our five school values of social justice, democracy, connected knowledge, spirit of inquiry and a community of learners 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.”
Two years ago, the staff at Ursula Franklin Academy made the decision to align our admissions process to the program with our school's social justice values. Aligning to the Policy P100, Student Interest Programs and as a school and Board committed to equitable access, Ursula Franklin Academy welcomes students interested in leadership, equity and social justice.
All potential applicants are expected to read UFA’s Statement of Purpose & Values carefully and the descriptor of an UFA applicant.
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 15, 2022 to gain insight and understanding of our school’s unique culture and programming.