2023–24 Strategy Report

Page 1




We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.


In the face of exponential change and complex global challenges, they listen deeply, think differently and make a difference.

Branksome Hall is a catalyst—empowering and inspiring a new generation of learners and leaders to change the world.

Grounded in our values while constantly evolving, our 2022-25 Strategy Refresh is responsive to student needs and a shifting societal context.

This 2023-24 Strategy Report shows how we keep students at the centre, through increased personalization of academic pathways, investment in employee growth, deepened well-being and university counselling support, an ambitious innovation agenda, intentional action to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion and thriving local and global partnerships.

Boldly united and fiercely independent, we are charting new paths at the forefront of girls’ education. As we build on a strong foundation of excellence, we are just getting started.




On behalf of the Board of Governors, am pleased to share this Strategy Report 2023-24, which offers an overview of the school’s progress and momentum. The mission of Branksome Hall is, “Each day, we challenge and inspire girls to love learning and to shape a better world.”

Our goals for the future are ambitious, exciting and student centred. In an environment of rapidly evolving technologies, innovation and societal challenges, Branksome Hall continues to be a global leader in girls’ education. The Branksome experience creates students and graduates who are globally minded leaders and changemakers and part of a broader connected and supportive community.

would like to acknowledge and thank Karen Jurjevich for her transformative leadership as Principal over the past 26 years. It is deeply appreciated and has made a lasting impact on the school and our community. The Board is delighted to welcome our 8th Principal, Grace McCallum, in July 2024. She is a strong community-builder, forward-thinker and an educator at heart. I invite you to join me in thanking Karen and offering a warm welcome to Grace and her family as we look ahead to an exciting future at Branksome Hall.


I hope you share my sense of pride as we reflect on our progress across Branksome Hall’s strategic priorities.

Thanks to the commitment and valuable insights of our incredible community of parents, alums, volunteers and supporters, we are preparing students to lead and thrive in an unpredictable future.

Branksome Hall is a catalyst. Every day, Branksome educators, counsellors, social workers, coaches, administrators and support staff help students unlock their potential.

Branksome students are developing creative solutions in our signature innovation programs, stretching their athletic and artistic abilities through sport and performance arts, listening deeply to diverse opinions as part of collaborative projects and so much more.

As pass the baton to Branksome’s 8th Principal, Grace McCallum, I am confident in the bright future of this school and its remarkable students.

06 OUR STRATEGIC APPROACH Branksome Hall mission, vision, values and strategic priorities 08 BRANKSOME HALL IMPACT By the Numbers 10 PERSONALIZED AND INNOVATIVE LEARNING IB Advantage Priority: Equip learners with the skills to unlock their potential 12 EQUIPPED AND ENGAGED EMPLOYEES Our Employees Priority: Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees 14 STUDENTS AT THE CENTRE Student Support Priority: Deepen well-being and university counselling support 16 INNOVATION UNLEASHED Innovation Priority: Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset 18 DEEP LISTENING, MEANINGFUL ACTION Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Priority: Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community 20 BOLDLY UNITED Our Communities Priority: Build connection through local, national and global partnerships 22 CONTRIBUTORS



Each day, we challenge and inspire girls to love learning and to shape a better world.


To be the pre-eminent educational community of globally minded learners and leaders.



To empower and inspire curious minds to think differently, challenge the status quo and change the world.





IB Advantage

Equip learners with the skills to unlock their potential


Student Support

Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees

Deepen well-being and university counselling support


Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset


Build connection through local, national and global partnerships

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community





109 graduating students received a combined total of more than 670 university offers of acceptance from notable U.S., Canadian and UK schools and highly selective programs, including 136 U.S. offers, 51 UK offers, 6 Ivy League offers, 4 direct entry Medical Program offers, 80 offers to Queen’s, 56 offers to McGill, 41 offers to U of T, 26 offers to U Waterloo and 26 offers to UBC

$3.4 MILLION offered in scholarships across the Class of 2024

779 student athletes in Fall & Winter seasons of 2023-24, 383 on 21 teams in 7 Fall sports, 396 on 22 teams in 7 Winter sports, winning 3 championships, 5 silver medals and 1 co-hosted CAIS tournament for Senior Soccer


50% of employees engaged in leadership programs delivered by the Centre for Strategic Leadership (CSL)

10% of employees take part in individual leadership coaching through the CSL

92% of employees participated in a recent values survey

26 school and university counsellors, social workers and Learning Strategies teachers

5 expert guest speakers sharing insights with parents and school leaders on child development and well-being in the 2023-24 school year

$1.5 MILLION in financial assistance disbursed in 2023, making Branksome more accessible to a diverse student population


200% Branksome’s Noodle business accelerator program has doubled in size, and has expanded to include Grade 4 students

12 leaders at the top of their field in innovation, tech and entrepreneurship provide strategic insights through our Innovation Council

$5,387,523 funds raised towards innovation initiatives in 2023-24

20 student affinity and DEI-focused groups at Branksome Hall


1,687 DONORS

have contributed a total of $26 million to date as part of historic Make Way Campaign

100% of JK-12 students learning about inclusiveness and belonging

65 days of significance and related celebrations this year (Diwali, Lunar New Year, parents’ association events)

129 volunteers in 2023-24, supporting and celebrating our many distinct communities

100+ students from over 30 countries engaged in Branksome’s second global Re:Solved debate




Priority: Equip learners with the skills to unlock their potential

Branksome students are now equipped with more tools and greater choice as they build personalized and innovative academic pathways:

The new IB Select pathway empowers Diploma students with more options to customize their academic experience.

Launching in the 2024-25 academic year, current and incoming Grade 11 students will have the choice to pursue the full IB diploma or IB Select, a new pathway that includes compulsory IB and Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) requirements, with greater flexibility in course selection. Grounded in Branksome’s value of inclusiveness, IB Select offers increased personalization—equipping each student with agency to play to their unique strengths, interests and needs.

Our designation as an Apple Distinguished School opens new innovation opportunities for the Junior School.

This distinction recognizes Branksome’s continuous innovation in education, and success leveraging Apple technology to enhance learning. It also opens new professional growth and collaboration opportunities for teachers during the 2023–2026 program term. Whether they are using drones to explore the principles of flight, building a model of the brain in Minecraft or manufacturing laser-cut key chains, Branksome students in the Junior School are integrating technology—along with a big dose of fun—to deepen learning and showcase their findings.

The Chandaria Research Centre is taking a deep dive into the benefits and challenges of technology in learning.

A unique hub of research and innovation within the school, the Chandaria Research Centre (CRC) provides data-driven direction and analysis to continually enhance educational programming. This year, the CRC is leading a school-wide survey on Technology-Enhanced Learning and Innovation to help inform technology implementation, professional development and the launch of an action research program.

Educators are identifying IB Approaches to Learning skills crucial to social-emotional learning and enhanced diversity, equity and inclusion.

Committed to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion permeate our culture, educators are identifying the IB Approaches to Learning skills that are core to developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive community—helping to integrate DEI within the classroom and curriculum.

We are refining report cards to ensure greater focus on feedback and growth.

As iteration and error are crucial to innovation, we are ensuring our report cards and assessment tools do not incentivize perfection or penalize exploration and experimentation. We are refreshing reporting tools to ensure they stimulate growth and learning.

“The personalization made possible with IB Select gives students more agency and choice in their academic journey.”


Underlying everything we do at Branksome Hall is the belief that we can develop the skills we need to thrive—skills that enable us to become lifelong learners, successfully tackle any challenge or pursuit, improve our relationships with others, develop an equity mindset and much more.

Instead of one-size-fits-all, the IB Approaches to Learning offer diverse strategies and a personalized approach that ladder up to a set of essential skills, preparing our students for university and beyond. Our strength as a school lies in our ability to promote a holistic mindset that nurtures students’ socialemotional learning and critical global citizenship education within the IB program.

As Toronto’s leading independent International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for girls, Branksome is uniquely positioned to equip learners from JK to Grade 12 with the skills to unlock their potential and change the world.




Priority: Invest in the growth, development and retention of our employees

Employees across Branksome are expanding their skills, investing in well-being and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through a variety of leadership development initiatives, growth opportunities, coaching programs and workshops.

Branksome’s Centre for Strategic Leadership (CSL) celebrates its official launch.

Our internal hub for leadership development was officially launched in September 2023.

Recognized in a recent Canadian Accredited Independent Schools (CAIS) evaluation as the only centre of its kind in Canada, the CSL delivers a wide range of leadership programming for employees across the school.

Employees across the school engage in leadership development and growth opportunities.

Monthly Lunchtime Leadership Conversations bring together a broad group of employees to engage in key areas of current research, values-driven leadership, personal growth and well-being. These Conversations are often developed and led in partnership with Branksome employees, who share their expertise. In addition, book clubs offer the opportunity for connection and diverse voices, while a range of workshops developed in partnership with various teams across the school build leadership skills and competencies. Overall, 50% of all employees participate in CSL programming, while 10% engage in individual leadership coaching.

Employees are advancing collaborative DEI actions, pursuing anti-Black racism learning opportunities and taking part in the Allies in Action employee affinity group.

As part of Branksome’s multi-year DEI action planning process, employees are working collaboratively on 30 immediate actions, identified in our comprehensive DEI audit, to deepen diversity, equity and inclusion.

Counsellors and social workers recently engaged in anti-Black racism learning, in partnership with Dr. Notisha Massaquoi of The Black Health Equity Lab, while many employees took part in a series of book club workshops exploring anti-Black racism from a Black leader’s perspective. Many employees are also active in a new anti-racism employee affinity group.

We are sparking conversation among employees about values and well-being.

Two recent employee surveys on values and wellbeing helped spark meaningful dialogue on the experience of employees and on potential areas for change. The surveys had a high response rate and a Values and Well-Being Working Group is unpacking key findings and generating recommendations and actions that will further support our values and employee well-being.

Committed to retaining our talented employees, we are empowering leaders and enhancing equity.

Through engagement with the CSL, leaders develop their capacity to inspire and empower their own teams to have agency and implement strategic priorities—building confidence among employees who know in what ways and how they are having an impact. Other employee retention initiatives include a comprehensive staff salary review that enhances transparency and equity, as well as employee feedback and growth programs.

Our new Faculty Growth Program links personal learning to classroom practice.

Educators who are continually learning and growing thrive when they have the opportunity to share this energy and excitement with students.

Our new Faculty Growth Program aims to support educators in designing their own inquiries into areas of teaching practice linked to the school’s strategy and to further develop their skills and the classroom experience for students.

“What unites us all is a belief in our values, a deep commitment to our students, and a sense that Branksome invites each one of us to be creative, innovative and create the future here.”

“Branksome invests deeply in the growth, development and retention of our employees.”


Committed to attracting and retaining top talent, we aspire to be a learning and working environment where diverse educators, innovators and leaders across multiple fields and backgrounds come to expand their skills, grow and harness their expertise and experience to make a difference.

A key driver of this work is our unique Centre for Strategic Leadership (CSL). With its values-driven approach and commitment to enhancing leadership skills among Branksome employees school-wide, the CSL partners with our talent management team to actively build an engaged, collaborative and committed employee culture—one that promotes intentional succession planning.

By investing in our employees’ personal and professional development and well-being, Branksome equips them to deliver on each of our strategic priorities and create ideal learning environments for students.




Priority: Deepen well-being and university counselling support

Responsive to student need, we are expanding the depth and breadth of wellbeing support—prioritizing health and well-being, while investing in academic success, social-emotional learning skills, resilience and addressing minoritized student needs:

Our circle of care model puts students at the centre.

We are building on the impact of Branksome’s student support teams by further expanding staffing for learning strategies, social work and university counselling. With close, cross-functional collaboration across our three specialized teams—Learning Strategies and Health Centre, School Counselling and Social Work, and University Counselling—as well as strong communication with teachers, athletic trainers and parents, we are increasingly responsive to the unique needs of each student.

We are prioritizing well-being by integrating social-emotional learning across the school and deepening our understanding as a community.

We continue to integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) across our community, with a school-wide working group ensuring all initiatives and policies are grounded in SEL. As we recognize student need in areas of attachment and resilience, we have brought expert guest speakers to share their insights with our parent community, including psychology professor Dr. Wendy Craig and author and school counsellor Phyllis Fagell. We are also deepening our understanding of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 disruption on recent Branksome graduates through the Chandaria Research Centre’s Road After study.

Student affinity and alliance groups are leading crucial conversations about systemic racism and minority needs.

As part of our multi-year DEI action planning process, we are supporting student affinity and alliance groups, including the Black Student Association. Through these groups, students are supporting one another and leading critical conversations about anti-racism and the experiences of minoritized populations. We are also setting out to learn more through the upcoming School Climate Survey scheduled for the fall of 2024. With a universal design approach, we believe addressing minority needs will serve to benefit everyone in the Branksome community.

Students are empowered to explore university pathways early. Our University Counselling team engages students and parents in university exploration early. As students are inspired to explore future directions that fit with their personal ambitions, in some cases as early as Grade 8, they gain confidence and clarity, which enhances their well-being.

“We are responsive to student post-pandemic needs—through increased staffing, understanding diverse experiences and enhancing autonomy and choice.”

Exposure to exceptional and unique university options is sparking curiosity and expanding possibilities.

As students understand that the exceptional is the norm, it suddenly sounds less risky. We are creating a culture of curiosity by inviting students and parents to explore unique programs and opportunities, lifting sights to new possibilities. Through a series of student and parent presentations, we have explored medical school admission pathways, unique opportunities for elite athletes, the role of testing in college admissions and a behind-the-scenes look at university admissions with directors of admissions from Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Chicago. The results are impressive, with Branksome graduates heading off to study at top universities across the world and earning prestigious scholarships and awards.


Branksome’s student support model ensures students at every age and stage have access to the level of support they need to thrive. Featuring three specialized teams working closely and cross-functionally—a Learning Strategies and Health Centre team, a combined School Counselling and Social Work team, and a University Counselling team—the model puts students at the centre of a circle of care.

In addition to ensuring students are supported in all situations and times of need, we are engaging students early in conversations around university pathways and future direction, integrating social-emotional learning (SEL) throughout the school and harnessing these skills as we develop a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.

Our approach expands the scope of well-being support— addressing not only mental and physical health challenges and learning needs, but also investing in academic success, resilience, diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as life-long social and emotional skills.




Priority: Challenge the status quo with an innovation mindset

At this time of exponential change, Branksome fosters a culture of experimentation and exploration—in the classroom and beyond:

Branksome’s signature innovation programs are expanding.

Since launching in 2020, Branksome’s Noodle business accelerator program has taken off. Participation in the Middle and Senior School has more than doubled, while Noodle Junior is expanding to include Grade 4 and increasing the program’s duration. Whether building an app teaching kids to code, devising a portal to connect refugee children with resources, services and peers or designing a sustainable jewelry line, students are equipped and inspired to turn their bright ideas into “profits with a purpose.” We are also expanding on our innovation programming within the curriculum, launching new design and media arts courses.

Students and employees are building new skills to ignite the potential of our upcoming Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre (iCAST).

In anticipation of this state-of-the-art and fully accessible facility designed to catalyze innovation and learning through a collision of STEM, entrepreneurship and the arts, we are gearing up to take full advantage. Through a series of end-user workshops, our employees and student leaders are not only preparing to make optimal use of the space, we are also advancing our knowledge and skills. The excitement is palpable—one teacher has created a virtual reality walkthrough of the space and is facilitating interviews with end-users as part of a Master of Design project with OCAD University. And our robotics team is notably primed for impact, having recently made Branksome history by building a bot that brought them to provincial-level competition.

Leaders at the top of their field in innovation, tech and entrepreneurship provide strategic insights through our Innovation Council.

What skills will students need for the future, as we face a time of unprecedented change? This is one of the central questions we explore with this group of industry-leading volunteers who share expertise and inside perspectives, helping inform new areas of focus and future directions for the school.

Branksome employees and students are exploring the potential of artificial intelligence.

Students are experimenting with ways to harness ChatGPT in their learning, with transparency, curiosity and caution, while employees are developing custom AI tools for Branksome educators.

In March 2024, we launched a new Slingshot Innovation Academy to empower children and youth across the community with innovative STEM, arts and entrepreneurship programming.

The new Slingshot IA will build on our innovative educational offerings with a new school-within-a-school—delivering a portfolio of industry-leading opportunities and micro-credentials for students across the Greater Toronto Area. Launched as a pilot this year, Slingshot IA will be based in the new iCAST facility.


“Technology touches everything, so we need to prepare the next generation to work in that environment.”
—Eva Lau, Parent Volunteer and Founding Partner of Two Small Fish Ventures

More than a buzzword or game-changing tech solution, innovation is a mindset—a way of engaging with the world. And it’s core to everything we do at Branksome Hall.

We immerse our learners in the design-thinking cycle through an integrated approach across the curriculum, where they develop their ideas through an iterative process of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing.

They learn to take risks and resist the pressure to be perfect. They are empowered to bring their ideas to life, to solve complex problems and to make a difference—from re-designing board games to meet accessibility needs and developing products that can be upcycled, to launching their own start-up through the Noodle business accelerator program. Ultimately, Branksome students are developing the skills, mindset and tools to challenge the status quo and change the world.




Priority: Develop a diverse, equitable and inclusive community

Across campus, we are collaborating to create diverse, accessible, equitable and inclusive learning and working environments:

Our employees and students are engaged in a multi-year action plan, which involves deep listening, meaningful action and ongoing commitment.

After a call for change from students, alums and employees in 2020, we committed to a comprehensive action-planning process. Starting with a DEI audit developed in collaboration with Anima Leadership and the Chandaria Research Centre and released publicly in 2023, we are taking meaningful action to address minority needs and create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.

Teams across the school are working on 30 immediate actions to deepen diversity, equity and inclusion.

In response to the recommendations made in Branksome’s DEI audit, teams across the school are now advancing 30 immediate actions. Prioritized based on several factors, such as the level of impact and feasibility, these actions include new professional learning related to microaggressions and anti-Black racism, a DEI curriculum review including identity, anti-racism, allyship and LGBTQ2S+ education, demographic data collection and analysis in admissions, and increased social engagement opportunities connecting day and boarding students.

Community partnerships are enhancing understandings of diverse lived experiences.

Branksome students engage with a diversity of lived experiences through community partnerships and service-learning opportunities, including a volunteer program with the Let’s Grow Learning and Living Hub day program for medically complex adults, a reading program with the Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit School), and a new partnership with Red Sky Performance, a leading company of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada and worldwide.

Branksome is providing support for the Black Student Association and other affinity and alliance groups.

As one of the 30 initial immediate DEI actions, we are committed to providing material support to student and employee affinity groups, including space for these groups to connect and grow, while ensuring their voices are heard through representation with faculty.

“We are listening deeply and having honest conversations with each other about our values and how we come together as a community.”

—Dr. Mira Gambhir, Head, Research & Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


At Branksome Hall, we ensure diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) guide our actions and are reflected in our lived experiences.

Our commitment to DEI is integral to our purpose as a community and is intrinsically linked to each of the other priorities. In particular, our grounding in social-emotional learning provides a helpful framework for exploring equity issues and empowering each of us to take action.

Currently engaged in a multi-year action-planning process that began with a comprehensive DEI audit, we are supporting student leadership in combatting anti-Black racism, engaging in diverse community and educational partnerships, and making systemic changes.

This work serves to benefit everyone in the community, building a strong sense of belonging and inclusion and equipping students with crucial skills and awareness to welcome and engage in respectful debate and dialogue as they move forward in their personal and professional lives.




Priority: Build connection through local, national and global partnerships

Branksome is a deeply engaged and connected community. Together with local, national and global partners, we are making a difference and shaping a better world:

The outpouring of support for Branksome’s Make Way Campaign, launched in September 2023, has been unprecedented.

With the most generous gifts in the school’s history, including eight gifts of $1 million or larger, 54 gifts of $100,000 or more and 1,234 gifts of $2,500 or less, we have seen our community come together to make a true impact. The $26 million raised to date is the culmination of the generosity of more than 1,687 donors. Without the philanthropic support of the community, projects such as iCAST simply would not be possible.

Volunteers invest their time, expertise and insights to help shape Branksome’s future.

Whether serving on the Board of Governors, Foundation Board of Trustees, Innovation Council Alum Association, Parents’ Association, Campaign Cabinet, Advisory Board for the Chandaria Research Centre—or sharing insights or experience as part of an event, such as a recent alum career panel for students—Branksome’s volunteers make a profound impact on our school. Parents are also increasingly engaging with educators and school administrators through regular fireside chats, presentations and workshops by guest speakers, strengthening our community connection as we work together to support students.

Local, national and global partnerships enrich the student experience and deepen connections.

Our students gain valuable experience through a variety of international exchange opportunities and academic collaboration opportunities with our Branksome Hall Asia sister school in South Korea, our “Triangle of Hope” partner schools in Toronto and South Africa, and IB continuum schools around the world. Students and employees also deepen community connection and learning through reading and literacy programs with local public schools, and a variety of emerging partnerships with Indigenous, accessibility and anti-racism organizations.

Our global Re:Solved debate competition invites students around the world to give voice to their perspectives and opinions.

After launching a pilot in 2022-23 in partnership with Munk Debates, Branksome is hosting its second global debate competition for youth this year. Engaging more than 100 students from over 30 countries, this year’s debate invites students to weigh in on whether the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights has lost its relevance, and if major polluter nations should open their borders to climate refugees. So far, students have engaged in the conversation from as far as Uganda, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Poland, Lithuania, Vietnam, Brazil and India.

“Coming together as a community will propel iCAST into a best-in-class learning environment, not just in Canada, but in the world.”
—William and Anita Chow, Parents and supporters


To be inspired to make a difference, we need to be engaged with the world around us—to be exposed to diverse perspectives and experiences. Branksome fosters a culture of international mindedness by providing extensive opportunities for students and employees to collaborate with innovators, experts and community leaders across a variety of contexts and causes.

Our Branksome community extends far beyond our downtown Toronto campus. Longstanding educational partnerships continue to provide valuable learning and leadership experiences, while new collaborations deepen our relationships and understanding of the world. In addition, our incredible community of students, alums, parents, employees and supporters consistently sparks new informal partnerships and opportunities—including unique initiatives such as our Noodle business accelerator program.

Looking ahead, we are actively pursuing new ways to build connection for our learners—including pairing students with alums in innovative industries such as Toronto’s thriving tech and artificial intelligence space, hosting leading scientists-inresidence in our new Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre (iCAST) and much more.



Branksome Hall 2023–24 Strategy Report

©2024 Branksome Hall


Sarah Baumann

Cristina Coraggio

Donna MacMullin

Claudia Metelsky

Carolyn Morris

Deniz MUTLU’22

Elaine Smith

Liisa Stephenson


Detale Design Inc.


Christian Peterson

Nikki Ormerod

Kiana Romeo

Liam Sharp

Caley Taylor

our website for more interactive content and videos BRANKSOME HALL 23 2023–24 STRATEGY REPORT 22
THANK 10 Elm Avenue Toronto, ON M4W 1N4 Tel. 416.920.9741 branksome.on.ca YOU.
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.