Richland Academy

Richland Academy's Inquiry-Based Approach to Learning Supports Education Advisor's Report

A Richmond Hill Prekindergarten to Grade 6 school’s inquiry-based approach produces 21st Century learners with “higher order skills” such as critical thinking, collaboration and communication, coupled with strong academic performance.


Richmond Hill, Ontario -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/01/2013 -- A January 22nd policy paper by Michael Fullan, special advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty, states, “with strong literacy and math skills established, it’s time to put the focus on higher order skills such as character education, critical thinking/problem-solving, collaboration and creativity to help engage students and better prepare them for the future.”

In a changing world, cutting-edge schools need to embrace an inevitable and necessary shift in education by creating a significantly different way of learning. Richland Academy is one of the top schools embracing innovation in its methodology. Character development and critical thinking are at the core of Richland’s approach. The inquiry-based learning that unfolds is inspired by the Reggio philosophy. The school’s engaged teachers and students are forward looking and creative thinkers, richly prepared for the 21st Century.

Richland Academy, a private, Prek to Grade 6 school located north of Toronto in Richmond Hill, develops students who become engaged, innovative, life-long learners while also producing impressive cognitive skills, aptitudes and attitudes. As students use their innate investigative and exploratory skills, they cultivate their natural love for learning, while building a solid academic foundation. Every year, Richland students in Grades 1-6 sit the Canadian Achievement Test (CAT), a set of national standardized tests that asses reading, language and mathematics skill levels. What is revealed is that Richland students are typically working at two grades above grade level, scoring in the 90-95th percentile in the three education foundation areas.

As the first private Prek to Grade 6 school in York Region to adopt a “Reggio-inspired” inquiry learning approach, Richland Academy’s children are dynamic thinkers, global citizens and confident in their abilities to make change upon graduation. Learning is embedded through innovative opportunities and authentic experiences. The collaborative approach develops critical and creative formation of ideas, concepts and issues across a range of disciplines. Recent examples of student-inspired collaborative learning are found on Richland’s blog, Inquiring Minds.

According to Head of School, Marlina Oliveira, "We are proud of our students’ learning at Richland. We have a child-centred and intellectually-stimulating learning environment that fosters life-long learning skills and attitudes. Our students’ interests guide us and are an integral part of our learning process. ” Oliveira continues, “the Reggio, inquiry-based approach views teachers as co-learners and researchers, and parents as collaborators and advocates for their children. This engagement leads to a more complete, enriched learning experience for the child, and produces excellent results in all areas of learning. It’s conducive and fundamental for success in life.”

Richland Academy’s strength is a 10-year history of academic excellence and student engagement. The student population of 100 students from Prek to Grade 6 and faculty support the belief that, children learn through inquiring, experimenting and the Arts. Reggio-inspired learning is playing a leading role in reforming and redesigning our schools, our curriculum and how children learn in the 21st Century. Students are excited to experience the change in their schools – as is evident in the recent Richland Academy blog post, Learning in the 21st Century: Why Kids Need Schools to Change

The education system can evolve through the next century and follow the lead of innovative schools such as Richland, by focusing more on how students are acquiring information, what skills they are developing and what kind of successful contributor to society they are becoming.

Richland Academy is in the forefront of this change.

About Richland Academy
Established in 2002, Richland Academy is an innovative Prekindergarten to Grade 6 school. Located on a spacious, three-acre property in the heart of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Richland Academy provides a co-educational and safe environment with small classes (average teacher to student ratio is 1:12) with strong academic results. Richland offers specialty subjects including French, Visual Arts and Performing Arts - starting in Prekindergarten through all grades. Parents appreciate Richland’s clear standards and expectations for the students, a focused academic mission, innovative teaching styles and methods, collegial and welcoming atmosphere, creative opportunities for parental involvement, integration of technology into the learning, and an emphasis on the arts, music, daily athletics and other character-enriching disciplines.