Brentwood College

Redefining Education

What does Emmy award winning director Michelle MacLaren have in common with Olympic gold medalist Malcolm Howard? Both are alumni of one of Canada’s leading independent secondary education boarding schools, Brentwood College.

Located along the crystal-clear coastline of Vancouver Island, Brentwood College’s 77-acre campus offers the best of student living, learning, and extra-curricular opportunities. Since 1923, students from around the world have come to Brentwood seeking a superior learning experience. Like MacLaren and Howard, many alumni have made outstanding achievements in science, citizenship, arts, and athletics.

In June 2011, The Canadian Business Journal featured Brentwood’s ‘Tripartite Program,” a unique combination of daily academic, athletic, and artistic opportunities for students. This approach provides positive exposure to a variety of different disciplines, while still allowing students to pursue the subjects they enjoy.

Now, less than four years later, the school has increased and improved its offerings to better serve the needs of its diverse student community.

Under New Leadership

In 2012, Brentwood College welcomed Mr. Bhadresh (Bud) Patel as its fourth Head of School. Patel, after having served for many years in both teaching and administrative roles with other West Coast independent schools, joined as the first externally hired Head of School in Brentwood’s history. Through bringing on Patel, Brentwood brought on new experiences, ideas, and potential for growth.

“The first thing we did was develop a community-based Strategic Plan for the school,” Patel explains in a recent interview with CBJ. “We wanted the plan to have a ‘world flavour’ to it, to help us establish ourselves as a school of global perspective and significance.”

In recent years, Brentwood College has been making an increasing impact in the global secondary education arena. As of the 2014-2015 school year, approximately 25% of the school’s total student population consisted of international students, representing 32 countries.  About 7% of international students are based in the Unites States. Of the remaining 75%, approximately 65% are domestic Canadians and 10% are ex-pat Canadians.

Importantly, Brentwood College practices a philosophy of student choice in its application process, eschewing the perceived practice of admitting students who are ‘sent’ to boarding school. In order to attract what Patel refers to as “mission centred students,” who are the right for the school and vice-versa both the parents and more importantly the child applying must show an eagerness to enrol at Brentwood. Should a student express that they would prefer not to attend, Brentwood will politely decline admission.

“[Our admission standards] have really created a highly unique student culture,” says Patel. “These are students who truly want to be here.”

Increasing Demand

Brentwood College School is an institution with a reputation for fostering highly successful individuals. To date, the school has produced 23 Olympians, as well as several notable political and scientific visionaries.

With such a strong reputation, it’s no surprise Brentwood continually attracts increasing amounts of interested students. Patel notes that he has witnessed significant growth over the past 3-4 years.

“During the 2011-2012 school year, we were at 446 students enrolled. We have 512 students for the 2014-2015 year. That’s a large percentage increase in a short period of time.”

Patel continues, “We’ve increased our staff accordingly; were very mindful of class sizes. Every one of our faculty members act as advisors to 8-12 student advisees throughout the student’s time at Brentwood.”

The 2014-2015 year also brought demand for a new Grade 8 preparatory day school program. As several school districts in British Columbia decided to include Grade 8 as part of secondary school, moving the grade from the traditional elementary or middle school curriculum, Brentwood recognized the need to educate its younger community members.

Brentwood’s Grade 8 preparatory day school program has its own independent timetable, focus, and attention apart from the upper years. Students do not receive an official house affiliation, as they return to their family homes in the evening. Instead, the Grade 8 preparatory program aims to prepare students for potential enrollment within the Grade 9-12 boarding program while continually providing an innovative and creative daily learning environment.

In order to facilitate expanding student offerings and student population growth, Brentwood underwent a $50 million facility rebuilding and improvement program. The renovations included updating or constructing buildings including Crooks Hall that meets LEED standards.

Educational Opportunities for Every Student

One of Brentwood’s greatest strengths is its ability to adapt to global educational and workforce trends. In addition to the Tripartite program, the school recently introduced its grade 9-12 STEAM learning program.

STEAM – an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math – represents a key offering within Brentwood’s academic program. The School identified these five core fields as necessary competencies to future career success.

“Brentwood College is a leader for places of learning,” says Patel, “Our programs are set up to help students become independent individuals, ready to take on and overcome the challenges of the world.”
Patel describes this as teaching “Grit and Joy;” that is, students learn the skills and attitude needed to excel in whichever field they choose, and develop the good natured attitude to appreciate their success.
In addition to the STEAM program, Brentwood College has also introduced Brentwood TV; a new multimedia and journalism class that prepares students looking to develop careers in the entertainment and media industries.

Brentwood College’s extra-curricular programs also continue to be very robust. Rowing remains one of the school’s historic athletic focuses; however, Brentwood offers over 20 sports and wellness opportunities including yoga, volleyball, basketball and rugby. Students interested in pursuing artistic endeavors can choose from a variety of different specialized activities within the areas of performance art, visual art, dance, music, and photography.

As stated by Patel, “One of the most important things [at Brentwood] is providing opportunities for students to achieve their own personal excellence.”

Preparing for a Bright Future

The core aspect of Brentwood’s preparation for the future is its Strategic Plan. Spanning from 2013-2023, the plan aims to propel Brentwood forward as a global leader in secondary education. The Strategic Plan encompasses three core goals:

Innovation, establishing Brentwood as a globally renowned leading-edge place of learning
Sustainability, ensuring that Brentwood remains financially, environmentally, and academically viable for future generations

Engagement, creating a culture of community and philanthropy in both current and future students.
Each goal is integral to the continued success of Brentwood College. Should the school remain committed to the achievement of each, there is no doubt it is on the road to tremendous global success.

Brentwood College School’s future, supported by dedicated faculty, students, and families, is bright.

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