Toronto District School Board
Skip to main content

Specialized Schools and Programs Policy

Specialized Schools and Programs Policy

The TDSB offers specialized programs across the district from CyberArts programs to International Baccalaureate, arts-focused schools to specialized programs in math, science and technology. We are committed to our specialized programs and schools and value the variety and opportunity they bring to our students and their school experiences.

As part of our Secondary Program Review, we are making updates to current policies and procedures, including the addition of a new policy – the Specialized Schools and Programs policy – which will allow us to be clearer when it comes to admission procedures, practices and timelines, which differ from those in regular schools. Together, this new policy and review will help more students have access to these programs.

Our Guiding Principles

  • The Board is committed to supporting strong local schools that are easily accessible and provide students with a wide variety of programs leading to all post-secondary destinations
  • Local schools will provide focused, specialized programming that responds to student voice, choice and interest.
  • Local schools can also provide programs to broaden career choices and encourage innovation by engaging students in specialized learning opportunities
  • The Board will operate district-wide specialized schools/programs, where the delivery of specialized programs cannot be realized in a local school by bringing together system resources and student participants
  • The Board will continually review and assess our policies, procedures and practices to ensure that they promote equity, inclusion, and human rights, and make changes where necessary

One of the most important things in this new policy is that it creates a distinction between two types of specialized programs in the TDSB:

  • District-wide specialized programs
  • Local specialized programs

District-Wide Specialized Programs

This is the model of our current systems of specialized schools and programs. These are schools or programs that have a specific focus such as the Arts, athletics, STEM or skilled trades, for example and are available to students from all over the TDSB.

These schools and programs will have standardized, online admission processes and criteria established by the Board that promotes equity, inclusion and human rights.

The Board will determine the number, scope and location of district-wide programs taking into account what schools currently have space to offer district-wide programs, what the facilities are like, and where we face enrolment pressure.

Transportation will not be provided for district-wide programs, as is the case with our current policy for Optional Attendance.

Local Specialized Programs

Like district-wide programs, local specialized programs have a specific focus such as the arts, athletics, STEM, or skilled trades, however, these are available only to students registered at that local school. This allows local schools to respond to student voice, choice and interest of its students, and to develop programs to meet these needs.

In these programs, the school principal will establish the admissions processes and criteria, in consultation with school staff, the superintendent and central departments, and with a focus on equity, inclusion and human rights.

In the local specialized programs, the admission process will begin after the student has registered at the school.

Read the questions and answers about the Specialized Schools and Programs Policy.