Westside Senior School

An innovative high school for students in Grades 8-12.

Focused learning in a comfortable, welcoming, and supportive environment in downtown Vancouver.

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t ask a question in class? 


Maybe there were too many students in the class, or the teacher was intimidating, or perhaps you’ve never been encouraged to ask for help in school.

In large high schools, it’s common for students to get off track, to avoid asking questions, and end up not getting the support they need to learn the required material. Not being comfortable at school may mean you struggle needlessly. It can also result in fewer opportunities in the future because you haven’t excelled in school the way you could have. 

Every student can do well in school, get good grades, and attend an excellent university. It’s just a matter of getting a strong foundation when you’re in high school.

Stress can be another factor that causes students to feel stuck, overwhelmed or less-than-comfortable at school.

When you’re not being encouraged or supported, it’s hard not to get stressed out or anxious every time there’s another test or assignment. 

While it’s natural to experience some stress during your high-school years, there’s a limit to what you should reasonably feel. Your school environment shouldn’t be the cause of excessive pressure. Your school should help you deal with the natural stress of wanting to do well, challenging yourself to improve, and seeking out experiences that cause growth. 


Westside’s Senior School provides a supportive environment ideal for focused learning. Here, your success matters.

Westside students study hard and know how to have fun!

Westside students study hard and know how to have fun!

Westside’s Head of School (Mrs. Volyanska) and CEO (Mrs. Da Silva) are committed to your success.

Westside’s Head of School (Mrs. Volyanska) and CEO (Mrs. Da Silva) are committed to your success.

There are plenty of public speaking opportunities if you’d like to stretch out of your comfort zone.

There are plenty of public speaking opportunities if you’d like to stretch out of your comfort zone.

There’s something special about being in a small high school. When your high school is small and lead by teachers who care about your success, you can relax and focus on learning. You can ask questions during and after class. You can even get help from teachers with whom you might not be taking a class. You’re not just another number. You’re an individual who matters.

When you join Westside, you’re joining a community. At Westside everybody knows each other. It’s a small and welcoming community, that some Westsiders say feels like a family. The teachers know your name. They know how you’re doing in class (and in life), and they’re committed to helping you improve. 

You need to be willing to put in your best effort. There’s no shortcut to success. You need to be prepared to engage with your classmates, ask questions, study, and to challenge yourself. As long as you do that, you’ll have a fulfilling and positive high school experience at Westside. It’s impossible not to improve your academics when you’re in a supportive environment, surrounded by people who care about your success, and you’re putting in your best effort. 


What can you expect from Westside’s Senior School?


There are plenty of high schools in Vancouver. Each one has different strengths and weaknesses. Here’s what Westsiders think is special about this school.

Self-Directed study and micro classes AVAILABLE

Students are learning about the philosophy of Plato through the creation of human figures made from Play-Doh.

Students are learning about the philosophy of Plato through the creation of human figures made from Play-Doh.

In many schools, you're limited by the classes the school offers. If you want to study a subject specific to your particular goals and dreams, you might not be able to. This limitation could mean closing doors to opportunities in the future. Or it could mean not being as prepared as you'd like to be when entering university. At Westside’s Senior School you can take a class with as few as six students. You can also do a self-directed course supported by a teacher. This option means that you're never held back by what courses the school offers, and you’re able to pursue your interests.


Open, Easy, and Quick communication

In large schools, either in the public or private system, it can be challenging to get help when you have an issue that requires support. Often the administration and the teachers are so busy that they don't have time to give you or your child individual attention. Westside prides itself on being the complete opposite. The Senior School Principal is constantly available to help students or talk with parents.

You can always email a teacher directly or make an appointment to deal with an issue as it comes up quickly (usually within a day). It’s never going to be a month-long wait to speak with someone at the school. You're always able to get the help you need right away.


Incredible teacher support

Mr. Robson is “famous” for taking his students on the most class outings. He’s always looking for a way to make a topic more engaging.

Mr. Robson is “famous” for taking his students on the most class outings. He’s always looking for a way to make a topic more engaging.

It's often the case that students struggle because they don't receive enough teacher support. Especially when students are struggling with a particular subject, it's crucial to have access to their teachers to ask questions. 

When students don't feel supported by their teachers, students are unable to improve in their weakest subjects. Westside teachers are always available to help their students. The school has an environment where asking questions is encouraged. Students often talk about how the incredible support they get from Westside teachers has helped them to improve in difficult subjects and pass courses they were worried about.


Intervals That Allow for Breaks

Within the conventional school system, the only breaks you get are during winter and spring vacation. Due to the Senior School’s block system, students in Grades 10-12 have one to three-day breaks (called intervals) throughout the school year. These intervals allow students to relax and manage the stress that builds up during the school year more effectively. Particularly for senior students who are academically focused, having small breaks throughout the school year is a critical way to help manage stress.


A Welcoming and Supportive Community

At Westside everyone knows each other. Some Westsiders say that the community here feels like a family. In larger schools, it’s much more common to have small cliques and a student body that isn't close-knit. Coming to school may feel impersonal or overwhelming when you don't know everybody in your grade or class. Here, students make friends that support their goals and dreams and enjoy being part of a welcoming and encouraging community that allows them to feel comfortable at school.


Small Class Sizes

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In classes with 30 or 40 students per teacher, it becomes nearly impossible for students to get the individual support they need. Students can easily get lost or off track in a large class. At Westside, having small class sizes is a priority. Westside’s administration recognizes that for most students to flourish academically, they require the individual support only possible when you have a low student-to-teacher ratio.


Westside Senior School Close Up

While it’s impossible to cover everything about the Westside Miniversity in one page, here are some details about this program that you might find useful to know before you book a school tour.

Methodology and Approach to Education

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  • Classes encourage discussion and analysis not rote learning

  • Tutor groups ensure that all students have a teacher who is following their progress all year

  • Block system for Grades 10-12 allows students to study one course per month

  • Small class sizes allow students to get individual attention

  • Special workshops, speakers, and opportunities for public speaking broaden students learning


School Structure and Schedule

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  • Block system for students Grades 10-12 means one course is finished every 21-22 days

  • Intervals of one to three days are taken between each block

  • Induction Week at the start of the school year gives students a chance to get to know each other before classes begin

  • Teacher-supported self-directed study courses are available

  • Classes created for courses with as little as six students

  • Students are free to use their out-of-class time as they see fit

  • Special extracurricular classes are available on Friday mornings and afternoons


Location and Resources

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  • Located Downtown Vancouver, a short walk from the business district, Art Gallery, Library, and parks

  • Unique pop-up classrooms

  • Comfortable, flexible furniture designed to help create a collaborative environment

  • A peaceful yet creative atmosphere allows students to stay focused

  • Bright modern learning space full of sunlight (so you don’t fall asleep in class)

  • Science Lab, Computer Lab, and Library

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Suite including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and InDesign

  • Small gym space within two blocks of Miniversity for PE, workshops, and events


Sometimes You Need A Break

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  • Interval days for students in Grades 10-12 allow students to take a break from the regular curriculum

  • Pool table and ping pong table for use during breaks between classes as well as lunch and after school

  • Boardgame, video game, and movie nights

  • Class outings to help strengthen learning (ex: Bard on the Beach, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Courthouse)

  • Sometimes students just go to Stanley Park for an interval day and totally forget about school!


Special Programs and Extracurriculars

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  • ELL Program for students who need extra English support

  • Westside holds AP Exams at the school yearly

  • Music Program including after-school rock band

  • Students are supported in creating clubs

  • Student council

  • After-school Basketball, Soccer, and Cross Country

  • After-school Rock Band

  • Model UN


Community Events

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  • School-wide art show allows students to share their work with the community.

  • International Day gives students in the Senior School a chance to share the food and culture of different countries with the students in the Junior School.

  • Winter and Spring Concerts are school-wide events which bring everyone together

  • Thanksgiving Potluck gathers the school together

  • Literacy Week exposes students to authors, speakers, and workshops

  • Sports Day is an event every student enjoys at the end of the year


University Application Support & Counselling

  • University Prep

  • Planning including Career Prep Week in Grade 10

  • One-on-one university counselling

  • University application assistance

  • Westsiders have gone on to study at some of the world’s best universities including University College London, University of Sydney, University of Edinburgh, New York University, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, and UBC

  • Approximately half the 2019 grad class accepted offers to some of Canada’s finest universities, including UBC, Waterloo, McGill, Queen’s, and Western

What are Westsiders saying?

I like the small community. I really like the teachers ... I’ve been taught by most of them. And they’re all really helpful and nice, and they treat you with respect.
— Elyse, Westside Alumni
The teachers here are great. They’re the best teachers I’ve ever had. ... Even though you have a block system with a specific teacher, you can still go around and ask other teachers for help too. And they’re willing to help.
— Thy, Grade 12
The teachers are very dedicated here. They not only listen to their students...but the parents as well.
— Henri, Westside Parent
Before I was ... afraid of asking questions to teachers. I used to just try to figure it out on my own, and my whole day would be wasted, just trying to figure out that one problem. So then when I came here, I saw that the teachers were a bit relaxed. And you can aske them [questions] whenever you want.
— -Murtaza, Westside Alumni

The Senior School Journey

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Grade 8 and 9

Starting High School
In Grade 8 and 9 is when students improve in the areas where they need work. They continue to learn how to learn. They strengthen their base.

Students have a mix of linear and semester scheduling.

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Grade 10 and 11

Focusing on Goals
School becomes more rigorous in Grade 10 and 11. This is where students begin to focus on post-secondary goals.

Student begin the block system. They attend one class per block.

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Grade 12

Moving Towards Graduation
Students refine their goals and dreams and begin applying to the universities or post-secondary schools that best suit them.

Students continue on the block system.

The Block System Explained


The block system is actually simpler than a “regular” school system. In England the block system is what you will most commonly find in schools. While in Vancouver, Westside is the only school using this system.

How does it work?

Starting in Grade 10, you take one class at a time. If you’re studying History, that’s the only class you’ll have for the month. You won’t have to balance the demand of a Physics test with a Socials presentation and an English essay. You’ll just be working on one subject with one teacher. After the class is done, you’ll take a break. We call these breaks “Intervals.”

Your break will be from one to three days depending on the scheduling needs of that month. After your interval, you’ll move on to the next class.

Of course no system is perfect. But a few things students like about this system are as follows:

  • You stay more motivated because you know each subject lasts a short period of time

  • You can manage your time and energy more easily with one subject

  • You stay more focused with just one class to work on

  • If you’re taking a class you don’t love, it only lasts a month, not the whole year

It’s important to have an academic focus if you’re on the block system. You can’t stop doing the work because if you do it’ll just pile up. But for students who are focused on doing well and learning, it’s an ideal system.


Westside By The Numbers


Students Enrolled in The Westside Schools.


AP Exams and Courses Available


International Student Body School-wide


World Top 50 Schools Westsiders have attended

What’s It Like?


Although we recommend that you take a school tour, you might want a quick peek inside the school before getting in touch.

The Westside Senior School features pop up classrooms, a bright study and classroom area, quiet break-off rooms, a peaceful environment, a kitchen for student use, a library, a science room, and a computer lab. There is also a small gym space two blocks from the Miniversity which is shared by all three Westside centres.


How do you know if Westside is for you?

Who thrives at Westside’s SENIOR SCHOOL?


It’s undoubtedly true that Westside’s high school program isn’t for everyone. Over the years, we’ve noticed that certain characteristics allow students to thrive in this specific environment. They are as follows:

  • Hard-working, motivated students who are willing to put in their best effort

  • Students who like a measure of independence and freedom

  • Students who want to improve their academics and do well in school

  • Students who enjoy being part of a supportive community

  • Students who enjoy working to improve themselves personally and scholastically

  • Students who want to feel comfortable at school

  • Students who would like to engage with their teachers and fellow students

* * *


How do you know Westside won’t be a good fit?


Coming in to visit that school is the best way to see if this is the right fit. However, here are some guidelines that will save you some time. We know Westside isn’t the perfect fit for every single student. There isn’t one right school for everyone.

Westside isn’t a good fit for students who fit these characteristics:

  • Students who don’t want to improve academically

  • Students who aren’t willing to put in 100% of their effort

  • Students who don’t prioritize being respectful to their fellow students and teachers

  • Students who want a rigid system where teachers monitor their time

  • Students who don’t like to work independently


If this is you, don’t worry. There’s a school for you out there!

What makes Westside’s high school program unique?

Westside’s Senior School focuses on academics


While some schools have huge gymnasiums, a school track, an auditorium, and a myriad of extracurricular activities, Westside’s high school offers something entirely different.

We’re not trying to build an extravagant campus. We’re not trying to offer the most comprehensive experience.

The Westside Senior School focuses on preparing students for the future by improving their ability to learn and grow personally and academically.

The students in our programs are focused on their academics. Many Westsiders have a “dream university” that they hope to attend. It’s easy to get distracted from your most important goals when there are constant events and extracurricular activities competing for your attention. While we believe it’s essential to take breaks and have fun, we also know that a focused environment helps students succeed.

* * *


Westside’s After-school Hours

Senior School open until 5:00 p.m. with access to teachers

Westside’s student council can be seen above. Students receive teacher support for any club or group they wish to start.

Westside’s student council can be seen above. Students receive teacher support for any club or group they wish to start.

Sometimes a subject you're working on requires extra attention. Maybe its an area of particular interest to you, or perhaps it's a subject with which you're having difficulty. Being able to stay at school in a quiet, focused environment with access to teachers allows you to continue working and improving in the subject areas that matter most to you.

Westside’s students have the opportunity to use the school up until 5:00 p.m. This is particularly useful when you’re in a challenging class. You have access to some of the teachers after school and can ask questions and work on your studies in a calm and quiet atmosphere. You’ll also be able to work with friends on projects or classwork. 

It’s the little things that make all the difference.


The Westside Guarantee

Westside’s Student Council President gives a speech at the year’s Opening Ceremony.

Westside’s Student Council President gives a speech at the year’s Opening Ceremony.

Many students at Westside have a “dream university.” While no high school can guarantee your entrance to that exact university, we can guarantee that you’ll have the ingredients necessary to pursue your goals and dreams. At Westside you’ll be part of a supportive and encouraging community that wants the best for you. You’ll be studying with some of the best teachers in the city. You’ll be surrounded by classmates who want you to succeed. You’ll receive one-on-one counselling to help you clarify your career and university goals. You’ll have every advantage when it comes to creating the future success you desire.



Tuition & Fees
for New Students

Part of The Westside Schools’ mission is to provide excellent education at a cost that is accessible to as many families as possible. To that end we keep our fees and tuition as low as possible.

Domestic Tuition and Fees 2020|2021

Tuition: $15,950
Materials and Experiential Education Fee: $1,350
Total: $17,300

Tuition: $15,950
Materials and Experiential Education Fees: $1,750
Total: $17,700

Domestic Application Fee

There is a one-time-only non-refundable Application Fee due upon submission of your application.

New Family Fee

There is a one-time-only non-refundable New Family Fee due upon registration for families new to The Westside Schools.

*Please note that tuition and fees are subject to change.

International Tuition and Fees 2020|2021

Tuition: $24,800
Materials and Experiential Education Fees: $1,350
Total: $26,150

Tuition: $24,800
Materials and Experiential Education Fee: $1,750
Homestay Fee (optional for Grades 9 to 12): $19,800

Total with Homestay: $46,350
Total without Homestay: $26,550

International Application Fee

There is a one-time-only non-refundable Application Fee due upon submission of your application.

New Family Fee

There is a one-time-only non-refundable New Family Fee due upon registration for families new to The Westside Schools.

*Please note that tuition and fees are subject to change.


What’s next?


If you live in Vancouver, make sure you visit the School. Book an appointment with our Admissions Team and come visit Westside. Just click on the link below to start the process.

If you’re from out of town or country, please contact the Admissions Team to set up a time to speak in person about the school. admissions@thewestsideschools.ca