What’s Different? What’s the Same?

Why this school and not a different one? Great question! See the table below for a brief illustration of the similarities and the differences between PSII and other, more traditional schools, both public and private. Please also look at the “Approach” section in this same drop-down menu for more details on some aspects touched on briefly in this table.
But first two very important “sames:” You can graduate with a regular BC Dogwood Certificate at PSII, just like you can at most other high schools; and you can go to college, university, or into any other career path after PSII, just as you can with most other high schools.
Now, on to the differences:


Most high schools


Subjects, courses, and classes

Subjects are segregated into separate courses/classes where BC curriculum is  covered Subjects are integrated; the BC curriculum+  is uncovered in interdisciplinary combinations

Level of personalization

Courses are pre-designed for a batch of 20 to 30 students with some post-design differentiation after the fact based on student need/interest in some cases Personal learning paths are co-created by learners and teachers. Intersection points and emerging needs/goals inform what is done individually and what is done in groups

Curriculum design

Curriculum is built on “behavioural outcomes” where every student is asked to demonstrate the same learning behaviour. Some competencies are also referenced, but are lower on the hierarchy than the outcomes. Curriculum is built on personal curiosity through a close learner-teacher relationship, with room for occasional “nudges” by the teacher in to areas of learning the learner may not have thought of alone. Learning is based in valued human attributes, then competencies, then personal and universal learning goals.

How learners are grouped

Students are typically grouped by age/grade level. Classes are organized ahead of time and groupings do not change for a semester of a whole year. Learners are grouped when it makes sense in whatever configuration makes sense. Sometimes by interest, sometimes by similarity, sometimes by difference. Groupings are dynamic.

Learning environment

“Classrooms” are the main units of learning, so school buildings are organized into rooms of 20 to 30 to hold the average batch size. Some rooms are specialized but many are generic. Learners are the main units of learning, and so the school has micro-environments of many different shapes and sizes. Some areas are specialized, but almost everything is flexible.

Connection to the greater community

School tries to offer hypothetical models within the school walls to allow students to demonstrate learning and skill development. Community-based projects are the exception. Learners are encouraged to develop real projects, based on their own inquiries, and to access the world outside for mentorship, modelling, ideas for future projects, and as a place for them to contribute to society.

Face-to-face or virtual?

Most high schools are either face-to-face or are based in a “distributed learning” model where students access learning via technology. Almost all face-to-face is with a teacher alone, and almost all virtual access looks a lot like correspondence courses, only on a computer screen. PSII learners will be in a hybrid environment by necessity. There is no substitute for face-to-face (at least 90% of what students will experience each day) when human relationships are valued, but because learners could be learning almost anything at any time, virtual experts will often comprise part of the resources learners will access.

Physical health

Physical education is taught in a gym, with team sports as the main method of providing physical activity. Everyone in a PE class usually does the same thing at the same time, regardless of experience, preference, body type, or health status. Learners will learn about a holistically healthy lifestyle, including physical health, and will co-create a physical health plan (and assess progress) with a teacher, but will experience it at the Victoria YMCA and other locations that best fit the personal learning goals.