Learning at the Junior School

Childhood is a time of great social and emotional development, physical growth, curiosity, exploration and learning. The early years of schooling are critical to laying a foundation for the development of confident, successful and enthusiastic lifelong learners. This is the strong sense of purpose that directs life and learning at the Junior School.

A vibrant learning environment that includes students in Kindergarten to Grade 5, teachers, parents and staff, the Junior School is a small school set in the heart of Oak Bay surrounded by oak trees and plenty of green space for the children to explore.

We take pride in our experienced and caring faculty who work hard to meet the needs of all the children in the school and to create a joyful atmosphere for learning. Junior School teachers are always striving to find the best in each child and, as a result, students are enthusiastic and energetic in their daily work.

Philosophy and Goals

The Junior School offers a vibrant learning environment in which children, teachers, parents and staff work together to create a joyful and exciting atmosphere. We continually strive to find the best in each child and our students bring enthusiasm and energy to school each day.

Our goal is to create confident, successful and enthusiastic lifelong learners by supporting:

  • social and emotional development;
  • physical growth;
  • curiosity;
  • exploration; and
  • learning.

Virtues at the Junior School

At the SMUS Junior School, students develop personal character through the Virtues program.

Virtues are how we engage students to think about how their behaviour impacts others.

Students master important skills such as conflict resolution and co-operation. The program teaches students social skills and attributes that will serve them throughout their lives.

The Junior School virtues are:

  • assertiveness
  • caring
  • cleanliness
  • commitment
  • compassion
  • confidence
  • consideration
  • cooperation
  • courage
  • courtesy
  • creativity
  • detachment
  • determination
  • diligence
  • enthusiasm
  • excellence
  • flexibility
  • forgiveness
  • friendliness
  • generosity
  • gentleness
  • helpfulness
  • honesty
  • honor
  • humility
  • idealism
  • integrity
  • joyfulness
  • justice
  • kindness
  • love
  • loyalty
  • moderation
  • modesty
  • orderliness
  • patience
  • peacefulness
  • perseverance
  • purposefulness
  • reliability
  • respect
  • responsibility
  • self-discipline
  • service
  • tact
  • thankfulness
  • tolerance
  • trust
  • trustworthiness
  • truthfulness
  • understanding
  • unity


At SMUS, assessment serves many purposes beyond generating a report card or a final grade. It might be used at the beginning of a unit of study to gauge what students already know. It might be used in the middle of a unit, to look for gaps in understanding. And, of course, assessment can be used in what educators call a summative way: at the end of a unit of study to measure student proficiency or achievement.

Outcomes-Based Assessment

SMUS assessment in all forms is tied to British Columbia Ministry of Education standards, which are known as prescribed learning outcomes. Prescribed learning outcomes make it clear what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level and in each subject. When we assess students, we are measuring them against these standards; not against one another. And if one assessment method does not reflect student learning, we might use a different method. This outcomes-based and differentiated approach clarifies what we expect students to know, allows them to demonstrate their learning in a way that works for them, and allows our teachers to focus on each learner as an individual.


Junior School reports include detailed achievement information for each term's major curricular outcomes. For example, in Grade 5 Math, one of the six individual outcomes reported is “applies appropriate strategies when solving word problems.” This additional detail will allow students, teachers and parents to focus on both areas of strength and weakness within a course to foster more successful learning.

Reports also include details on students' learning behaviour and habits, such as the ability to manage time and materials effectively, and the frequency and level at which a student interacts with others.

Reports are issued three times a year at the end of each term: in December, March and June. Parents also have the opportunity to meet teachers and find out more about their child’s progress during scheduled parent-teacher conferences in October and January, and at student-led conferences in the second or third term, depending on grade.

Student Awards and Recognition

Over the past decade, SMUS has gradually moved away from types of student recognition that are based on the idea that one student is better than another. Instead, we recognize students and reward them for their achievements relative to our school's established expectations and standards, rather than comparing them to each other.

Kindergarten to Grade 4

During their early childhood years, it's important for our students to develop a strong sense of their own personal excellence and learn to recognize the unique and valuable contributions each of their classmates make to the school. Accordingly, we avoid formal academic awards during these years.

At the end of the school year, each student takes part in closing ceremonies and receives a certificate of completion.

Grade 5

As students complete their final year at Junior School, we recognize their accomplishments with a record of achievement.

Record of Achievement

The Grade 5 record of achievement lists individual highlights and accomplishments in six categories:

  • Co-curricular activities: recognition for participation on sports teams and in clubs such as the Red Cedar Book Club.
  • Service and leadership activities: recognition for serving in roles such as student ambassadors, library and computer monitors, and volunteering time in the community.
  • Outstanding contribution in individual subjects: recognition for instances in which a student has made a consistently outstanding contribution to class.
  • Distinction in individual subject areas: recognition for areas in which students have demonstrated exceptional academic performance in a particular subject.
  • Honour Roll: recognition for students who have maintained an A average throughout the year.
  • Major Awards: recognition for students who have met the requirements of one or more of our major awards.


There are a small number of awards that are given out to Grade 5 students at the end of each year. In keeping with our philosophy of student recognition and awards, there is a standard set of criteria for each award and every student that meets the criteria is recognized as a recipient of that award.