A new independent middle school has opened in Victoria offering a progressive model of inquiry-based learning that is designed around its students.
Local business consultant Tom Hudock founded the Arc Academy of Inquiry in 2018, modelling it after the six-year-old Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry for Grades 9 to 12. Both schools are small, with less than 100 at PSII and 16 in Arc’s first year.
“We only started recruiting in June so 16, it’s an awesome start,” Hudock said.
In search of inquiry-based learning for his own child, Hudock was drawn to PSII’s workshops and wound up working closely with founder Jeff Hopkins. Eventually, Hopkins shared the methodology with Hudock to open Arc.
“Students will be jump-started at Arc for a transition to PSII,” Hudock said. “Some might choose to go to PSII. But our students can go anywhere, they’ll be ready for any [learning environment].”
Tuition at Arc is about $8,000. It’s located in the ground floor space of the Cridge Centre building that previously housed Elizabeth Buckley independent elementary school, which closed in June after 30 years. To convert the space, Hudock knocked out a few walls.
What makes it standout is the structure. As an inquiry based school, curriculum is based on meeting competencies. There is no schedule based on subjects, per se, Hudock explains.
Students often work on projects they choose which draw from all areas of learning. There are two teachers and educational assistants who bring specific skill sets that make the school work, Hudock said.
“We believe that students will learn when they’re ready,” Hudock said. “Teaching B.C. curriculum at the same pace in the same way for all students doesn’t work. As adults, most of our fun moments are doing things we’re interested in and students should be able to do this too.”