Frequently Asked Questions

About Independent Schools in General:

1.  What is an independent school?


Independent schools are non-profit organizations governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Each independent school determines its own mission and vision and offers a narrow set of programmes intended to achieve that specific mission.  While academic inspection by the Ministry of Education is necessary to award the Ontario Secondary School diploma, the Ministry of Education does not have any function in the funding or oversight of the “business” side of an independent school. 


2.  What kind of regulations does KBS adhere to?


Kempenfelt Bay School is a member of the International Baccalaureate World Schools Organization, Canadian Accredited Independent Schools and the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario.  Each of these organizations have high standards of accreditation and regular oversight and inspections to ensure such standards are maintained.


3.  Does KBS follow the Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum?


The Ontario Ministry of Education provides a curricular guideline that serves as a base-line for planning at KBS.  While there are some intellectual developmental realities that limit how far and how fast students can be challenged, it is fair to say that the KBS expectations consistently exceed those set out by the province.  In the most recent standardized testing using the Canadian Achievement Test, the average KBS student, between grades 3 and 8, scored higher than 85% of those across Canada in writing, higher than 89% in reading and higher than 93% in math.


4.  What kind of education and/or training do teachers have?


While independent schools are NOT required to have Ontario certified teachers for every subject, the vast majority of teachers in independent schools DO have teaching certifications and those who do not, often have a specific talent or skill that brings an advantage to their instruction of students.  At KBS we focus on getting the very best teacher in front of the classroom, and while teacher certification is one criteria we consider, it is not the most important one.  We seek great teachers, not great certificates and we hire specialists in French, the arts and physical education to ensure the highest quality instruction in ALL areas of the curriculum!


5.  Does the school building and site meet all the building code and safety requirements?


The school site falls under the regulatory requirements of the City of Barrie and must therefore meet all building and safety requirements that any other school or business must meet in the city.  There are regular inspections of the school site and we run safety drills for various issues on a regular basis.


6.  Independent schools attract students from a broad geographical area.  Shouldn’t my child go to school with the children who live nearby?


What is in the best interests of every child, ultimately, rests with the decision-making of parents.  While research shows that less than 5% of people maintain any friendships in adulthood with those they attended elementary or secondary school with, the reality is that a healthy social life is an important part of growing up.  Still, social interactions have changed a lot in the last couple of decades and less and less children interact “outside” in a neighbourhood.  Children make friends at school and through community-based sports and are often supported by parents in travelling for social purposes.  What is most important is not the location of friends, the but the quality of friends.  Are the friends that are being made a good influence?


7.  A lot of people feel that independent schools are for the “elite” and that the values of their children may be distorted by such a peer group.  What is the real demographic of families in an independent school like KBS?


There is a great deal of misinformation and distortion about the demographics of families in the independent school system.  Of course there are families with greater financial resources than others but that is equally true in the public school system.  The demographic of most independent schools, and particularly KBS, is middle-class hard-working professionals and entrepreneurs who understand the value of a solid educational base and who want their children to develop good work habits and respectful behaviours.  These are the qualities that have offered success to the parents and they are the qualities they wish their children to develop.


About Kempenfelt Bay School in Particular:


8.  When was KBS founded?


KBS was founded in 1999 by a group of families who wished to create an educational environment with small classes and high expectations.  The school moved to its current site, at 576 Bryne Dr. in 2001. 


9.  What is Kempenfelt Bay School’s philosophy?


The mission statement of KBS states, “Kempenfelt Bay School (KBS) is committed to providing an exemplary education that empowers students to embrace their personal potential as productive and responsible global citizens.”  In essence, our expectation is that our students will have a very solid grounding in the literacy skills and study skills to be able to leave KBS and successfully enter any public or private high school in the university preparatory programme.  The objective of the school, and the families who support the school, is to provide the students with a foundation that will ensure they have every post-secondary option available to them when they graduate from high school and begin making decisions about their future place in the world!  

10.  What are the benefits of a KBS education?


This question is probably best answered by the alumni themselves, who consistently reinforce, both through their words and their success beyond KBS, that the greatest benefit of their education at KBS was their work habits and their balance of academic, artistic and athletic interests.


11.  What are some of the differences between the public school system and Kempenfelt Bay School?


Too often differences between the independent school system and public school system are stated in terms of “better or worse.”  That perspective is not appropriate until you look at the needs of individual students.  In other words, no school system is the best fit for every individual thus differing school options offer qualities that may better meet the needs of an individual. 


KBS is a small school, where every student truly matters and where the opportunities for personal growth are magnified by the attention they can get in small classes across a balanced programme of academics, arts and athletics.  Expectations are high, both in work habits and character and KBS students thrive on challenge and display high levels of respectful behaviour and community service.


Perhaps the greatest difference between public schools and independent schools is that there is no guarantee in an independent school that any students will cross the threshold in September unless families trust that every decision will be made in the best interests of students and there is a true effort made to develop a strong relationship between the home and the school.  To use an old cliché, we simply “try harder” at KBS.


12.  What is the parent and teacher communication like and what is the access to teachers?


Consistent with “trying harder” KBS faculty and administration strive to make communication clear, simple and regular.  Most parents interact with the teaching staff daily while dropping off or picking up their children.  There are four reports a year, three formal parent/teacher conference times and parents are invited to contact teachers or administrators any time an issue of concern arises so that it can be dealt with while it is still a small issue!


13.  What grade levels are available?


KBS currently serves students from the Junior Kindergarten level to Grade 8.


14.  What are the hours of the school?


Pre-school care is available from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.  Teachers are in their classes at 8:00 a.m. each day to provide support or challenge and school officially begins each day with assembly at 8:30 a.m.  There is a recess break from 10:10 – 10:30 and two separate lunch hours for JK-Grade 3 (11:30 – 12:30) and  Grade 4-8 (12:00 – 1:00).  Classes end at 3:30 and optional after-school clubs run from 3:45 – 4:30.  Aftercare is provided until 6:00 p.m.


15.  What is the student to teacher ratio?


Teacher to student ratio can be a bit misleading when such numbers do not reflect the normal classroom environment.  Students spend the greatest period of time in their regular classroom and average class size is a better measure of how much individual attention they might get during the day.  At KBS our maximum class size is 20 and our average class size is about 15.


16.  When do the children start learning French?


All KBS students, from JK-Gr. 8 have French instruction daily.  Classes are taught by fluent French speakers and the language of instruction in those classes is completely French.


17.  How often do the students partake in athletics, and are there any special programs?


All KBS students, from JK-Gr. 8 have a daily physical education period taught be a dedicated physical education teacher.  On Fridays that period is used for health instruction. 


KBS also participates in interschool sports with other schools from the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario.  We currently field competitive teams for students from grade 3 and up in soccer, cross-country, basketball and track and field.


Finally, there are regular club activities which go on after school on Mondays through Thursdays, many which offer physical activities for students at various grade levels.


18.  Are there programmes in the arts?


All KBS students, from JK-Grade 8, take art and music with subject specialists each week.  The music programme has vocal music up to Grade 2 and then recorder and vocal music in Grade 3 and band instruments and vocal music from Grades 4-8.  There is a jazz and concert band as part of extracurricular clubs and there are choirs in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions.


The art programme has a wide range of drawing, painting, sculpting and animation activities and the art room is generally one of the busiest spots at lunch hours!  Both music and art have well equipped and separate teaching areas.


19.  What kind of technology do KBS students get exposed to?


While we have carts of laptops and Smartboards for classroom use, a bank of computers in the library and a number of tablets for student use, technology is viewed very much as a “tool” for young students.  We tend to emphasize the importance of developing a skill without technology first, then using technology to enhance the speed and or quality of the work done.  To that end, our students learn to write well before they begin using word processing for writing.  They learn their math facts (including multiplication tables) before they use calculators to solve more complex problems.  They learn to speak well and understand effective presentations, before they begin doing powerpoints or movie presentations.  However, with personal skills developed, students quick adapt to the use of technology for many of their research projects and presentations.


20.  What is the International Baccalaureate programme? 


The International Baccalaureate Programme is an internationally recognized instructional technique that focuses on three main characteristics of “best practices” in teaching.  The first is an inquiry-based approach, where students regularly view their studies from the perspective of being able to respond to an overriding question that needs investigation and  a response.  The second is viewing learning from a “global perspective,” recognizing that everything we learn has local, national and global implications.  The third is a community service and action-based perspective.  IB students are expected to generate action in their community and/or in distant communities to make a positive difference in the world around them.


KBS is the only middle school IB programme in English in the Barrie area.


21.  How does KBS measure student achievement?


Assessment of student achievement occurs on a daily basis, both formative (what they can do right now) and summative (what have they learned over a period of time).  Student achievement is measured against standards established by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, the International Baccalaureate programme and through the use of nationally performed standardized testing in the form of the Canadian Achievement Test.  There are four reports distributed each year with one in each of the months of November, January, April and June.


22.  How will my child transition into high school should we decide on a public high school?


KBS offers counselling support to Grade 8 students and their parents in selecting a secondary school that will meet their needs after graduation.  KBS alumni regularly report back that the transition to secondary school, either independent or public, is done easily because they have the base of skills necessary to be immediately successful.  Secondary school teaching is much more subject-oriented than study skills oriented and, as a result, KBS students often have a strong advantage over those who are less prepared in such study skills and work habits.  Many KBS graduates have gone on to win major awards and serve in significant leadership positions in public and independent schools and other independent schools actively recruit KBS graduates because they know they will be well prepared.


About the Admissions Process


23.  What is the admissions process to gain entry to KBS?


Kempenfelt Bay School works hard to help families understand the strengths of the school during the admissions process and to admit students who will benefit from the programme we offer.  The admissions process is comprised of the following steps:


a)  A tour of the school is given to the family or to parents by appointment. (705-739-4731)  After the tour, the Head of School, Mr. Hookey, will meet to discuss the school and to respond to any questions parents or students might have.


b)  If a family is interested in having their child attend, an application form and fee, as well as the last couple of reports from the current school, can be submitted to the office.


c)  A date to visit and spend a day in the school will be arranged.  There will be some cursory evaluation done, perhaps part of a standardized test, particularly if the student is entering a higher grade and there is any concern that he/she has the foundation skills to be successful in the programme.


d)  After the visit, the admissions committee will meet to discuss the potential acceptance of a student.  If additional information is required, or a follow-up visit is requested by either the school or the family, that can be arranged.


e)  Once acceptance is confirmed, a letter of acceptance and registration package is forwarded to the family for completion.


24.  How are payments structured?


Fees may be paid in one payment, four payments or ten payments.  A schedule of payment options is sent out with registration packages.


25.  Is there financial assistance provided for families?


There is a limited financial assistance programme, structured on a “needs-based assessment” conducted by a third party organization.  This is to ensure both anonymity and privacy of information to the applicant family.  If financial assistance is requested as part of the application procedure, no financial commitment will be expected until the financial assistance application is completed.



576 Bryne Drive, Barrie, Ontario L4N 9P6
Tel: 705.739.4731 Fax: 705.739.3678

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