Learning at the Senior School

At the Senior School, a rigorous curriculum is at the heart of student learning. Academic courses are challenging and engaging, and provide a taste of what students will experience at university. Academic timetables spill over into the world of experiential learning through concert performances and full-scale drama productions. And self-knowledge grows when students take on leadership roles or service initiatives, or compete at the provincial level in multiple sports.

These learning experiences, coupled with compassionate teaching, guidance, and coaching, create multi-faceted young men and women who go on to win major scholarships and attend universities all over the world.

Philosophy and Goals

At the Senior School level, the primary goal is to prepare our students for the rigours of post-secondary education. In addition to meeting the BC Provincial Ministry of Education's requirements, we offer a range of additional courses including our Advanced Placement program.

By the end of their Grade 12 year, we want our students to have:

  • a strong academic record;
  • demonstrated leadership abilities;
  • a breadth of extracurricular experience;
  • a clear plan for their post-secondary future;
  • strong study and time management skills; and
  • experience with local or international service.

Within the academic framework of the Senior School, opportunities are provided for student leadership and community work, as well as excellence in sport and in the fine arts. Senior School students are actors, athletes, musicians, and artists as well as determined scholars.


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.

Report Cards

Reports are issued four times during the school year:

  • October: interim reports with letter and effort grades and a brief teacher comment
  • December, February and July: end-of-term reports with percentage, letter, and effort grades, and full teacher comments

End-of-term reports also include comments from homeroom teachers, house parents (where applicable), coaches, and a grade advisor or school administrator.

An additional, anecdotal report is issued to parents of new boarders in early October, to give an impression of how their child is settling into his/her new environment.

Parent-Teacher Meetings

In mid-September, parents of Grade 9 students and other students new to the Senior School are invited to attend an informational and social gathering in the Copeland Lecture Theatre.

The first formal parent-teacher meetings occur in late October/early November. A second series of meetings are scheduled in early March. All parents are again welcome to attend.

If you are the parent of a boarding student and are unable to attend the scheduled parent-teacher evenings, you are welcome to contact the Director’s Assistant at the Senior School office for alternative arrangements to meet your child's teachers.