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Transition to Secondary School 482
Transition to Secondary School
Transitioning from elementary to secondary school is a very exciting time for all students. There are a lot of opportunities available to students during their grade 8 year that will help to make this transition a smooth and enjoyable experience. Below is some information about events, activities and opportunities that may occur throughout the year. 


Knowing yourself is the best way to make decisions and set goals for your future. The Ontario Ministry of Education has identified the following Learning Skills as an integral part of a student’s learning:
  • Responsibility
  • Organization
  • Independent Work
  • Collaboration
  • Initiative
  • Self-regulation
In addition, the essential skills and work habits, available through the Ontario Skills Passport website, allows students to reflect on the skills they have demonstrated and would like to continue to develop. The essential skills and work habits allows students to see how the skills they are learning can be transferred to a variety of contexts in the class, school and community.
  1. The beginning of the school year is a great time for students to reflect on their interests, strengths and needs as a learner and set goals for a successful grade 8 year. There are many opportunities for students to do this, as a class or after school with the support of a parent, guardian or mentor. In grade 7 and 8, students will have the opportunity to engage in self-discovery activities as they explore learning styles, interests and careers.  Students will document this learning in their Individual Pathways Plan (IPP). As students explore and document opportunities they have had both in the school and beyond, students will reflect using the 4-step inquiry process:Who am I?
  2. What are my opportunities?
  3. Who do I want to be become?
  4. What is my plan for achieving my goals?

For more information please see the Learning Skills and work Habits brochure.

Students will be provided with their Individual Pathways Plan (IPP) login information and can access their IPP through My Pathway Planner.


Applications to Regional Programs

Regional programs are focused programs that are available to York Region students and are offered at specific secondary schools located throughout the region. These programs include, Arts, Sports and International Baccalaureate. Schools that offer these programs will  host evening information sessions and have specific application deadlines.  Please visit the individual school website for specific application requirements.


Many elementary students will have an opportunity to visit their home secondary school.  This event is referred to as  “Take your Grade 8’s to High School Day.”

Thinking about Course Pathways

Secondary courses are organized as Applied, Academic, Open or Locally Developed. Each offers a style of learning that meets the interests, strengths and needs of the student in a slightly different way. All these options lead to a Secondary School Diploma.
Through conversations, the student, parents/legal guardians, caring adult and/or the Grade 8 teacher, can use the Fall Progress Report and Term 1 report card to guide and inform course pathway decisions. It is never too early to begin this conversation. Click on your home secondary school to view available options.
You may decide that you are interested in attending a secondary school that is different to your  home school. There may be an opportunity to transfer to another secondary school if there is space in that school. Information about schools that are open to transfers is available in late November or early December. Your Grade 8 teacher or elementary school principal will have this information as it becomes available. In order to be considered for a transfer, you must complete the Transfer Request form available through the office in your elementary school.  Please note this is a separate process than applications to regional programs.
Secondary school open houses occur between late October and January.  Check the schedule of secondary school information nights and attend your community secondary school information night. Most secondary schools will also visit the elementary school either in December or January to inform students about secondary school registration and course selection. They will also inform students about extra curricular opportunities that that are available.
If you have applied to a regional program, acceptance to that program is usually communicated in January. Once accepted to the program, you will need to follow up with your Grade 8 teacher to ensure that your acceptance of the regional program is communicated to the regional secondary school and the community secondary school.


This month is a good time to begin exploring the course selection features on My Pathway Planner and begin to think about the optional courses available at your secondary school. Every grade 9 student gets to select two optional courses.


Generally the deadline for Grade 9 Course Selection is in February. Your Grade 8 teacher will have all the important dates and deadlines, and will support you in using My Pathway Planner. Course selection should be based on the individual student’s interests, strengths and needs. It is always beneficial to have a conversation that includes the student, teacher and parent/guardian or caring adult when selecting your courses for Grade 9. Remember no decision is ever final and changes can be made even after you click on the  “submit” button.


At some point in March or April, you’ll be asked to verify the courses you have selected. At this point, you will have an opportunity to make any necessary changes to your Grade 9 course selection.


Enjoy your final days as an elementary student. The secondary school you are attending may offer additional activities or events for you to become more familiar with your new school or you may wish to schedule another visit on your own.
Now is the time to consider what Community Involvement opportunities may be available to you over the summer. Once you have completed grade 8, you may begin to accumulate your 40 hours of community involvement that is a secondary school graduation requirement. The summer immediately following grade 8 is a great opportunity to get this graduation requirement out of the way. Be sure to check in with your new secondary school to obtain the necessary forms and information about eligible community involvement activities. Visit Community Involvement for more information about the community involvement graduation requirement and the required form.

Student Support

Some students may need additional support throughout the transition process. There are several avenues to gain that support. Depending on your needs, the Grade 8 teacher, English as Second Language teacher or the Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT) can be a great resource to help direct you to the assistance you need. Similarly, there are departments at the secondary school that can also help such as the Guidance Department, Special Education Department and the Student Success Teacher.
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