City School

Mini Schools
Student Group:
Secondary Students

The students who come to City School at King George Secondary have at least one thing in common with each other - they all chose to leave their traditional high schools because they wanted a different kind of school environment.

The students who come to City School at King George Secondary have at least one thing in common with each other - they all chose to leave their traditional high schools because they wanted a different kind of school environment. They prefer to spend their days with a much smaller group of people; they are prepared to give up a lot of course options in exchange for more personal autonomy and small-group classes with teachers who will know them and their families pretty well by the time they graduate. City School students call teachers by their first names, and choose "advisors" instead of being assigned counsellors.

The atmosphere in City School seems quite casual compared to a regular school, but everybody here is responsible for making it a place where schoolwork is respected as serious business and people can learn what they need and want to learn. Some City School students look "different" and they like to come to a school where nobody puts them down for that.

City School starts at Grade 10 and we try to maintain eight or nine students in each grade for a maximum of 27. We are in the category of "district specified program", which means our students come from all over Vancouver and not just the West End.

City School students will tell you they get a lot of responsibility; they do! They organize speakers and field trips; they plan the schedule for classes; they chair and record school meetings.   They work with an advisor to organize how they can best make use of daily Fundamentals time (usually math and English); they keep track of their learning and undertake extensive self-evaluations.  They are responsible for organization and upkeep of our library, kitchen and garden.  They fundraise for excursions and things we want (this year we got a banjo).

"Use the city as a classroom" has been our slogan from the beginning, back in 1971. Just look at our field trip list to see what kinds of educational opportunities we have been able to take advantage of. Some (optional) trips are overnight or longer, like camping, science trips or cultural exchanges.  With our flexible schedule, we can take advantage of full-day events, such as this year’s Climate Change Teach-in at SFU, or interesting activities that some up with little notice.


Small size:  With a population of only 25 to 30, you’ll find students and teachers get to know one another more than they can in a large school setting. 

Facilities:  Our main room is a multi-level space with a quiet study area, computer room and kitchen as well as classroom.  We have a seminar/music room and a private patio and garden.

Your input:  At community meetings, we discuss concerns, plan field trips, decide what activities and projects the school will do and what courses will be offered. Your input on one or more of the committees (school decor, grad, finance, garden, kitchen, fund raising, special events, etc.) is key to the operation of the school.

Mix of people:  Our students and staff commute from all over Vancouver.  We are diverse in our interests, opinions, backgrounds, eccentricities and talents, but the common thread is that we’ve chosen an alternative setting to learn and work in. We value and promote an atmosphere of respect and acceptance, and tolerate nothing less.

Enrichment, not acceleration:  You can expect a little of what you’re used to in regular school, but we use resources beyond the usual.  An advantage of our diminutive size is that we can be flexible about when and where we learn.  Some typical or recent excursions include Bard on the Beach, Museum of Anthropology, BC Civil Liberties Association student forum, Arts Club Theatre, VIFF, CBC Open House, Vancouver Opera, cycling Stanley Park sea wall, Vancouver Art Gallery, Law Courts, dragon boating, Vancouver Historical Society talks, People’s Law School seminars, Outward Bound urban program, Vancouver Archives, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, Museum of Vancouver; UBC Botanical Gardens, skating, Newcastle Island Provincial Park camping. Some of these activities require time commitments outside of regular school hours (evenings and over-nights).

Parent involvement:  We encourage and appreciate parents’ involvement in our school community.  There are projects we undertake that we couldn’t achieve without them volunteering to host exchange students, run garage sales, work behind the scenes on our plays and so on.  We take advantage of their experience and talents whenever possible.


Along with graduation-required courses, we offer electives in the arts, humanities and sciences.  Some of the courses you can expect to find - depending on what students opt for - are Art, Drama, History, Law, Literature, Biology, Earth Science, Comparative Civilizations, Psychology, Independent Directed Studies (Music, Film, Spanish, etc.).


You may want to visit for a day.  We encourage you to do so, and welcome inquiries from students, parents, guardians and school counsellors.  It’s best to apply before March, for the following September.  We sometimes accept students during the school year if space permits. 

For more detailed application information, visit our web site or phone 604-713-5816. 

Administering School: King George Secondary

Grade: 10-12