The Elmwood Difference

When you look around our school, meet the girls, teachers and staff, you’ll see the Elmwood difference. Girls excel in our safe, dynamic, culturally diverse environment. Free to pursue their passions, students strive for academic excellence, develop their creativity, and find their voice.


Girl-Centric learning environment that develops the “whole girl”


Girls love their teachers, their classmates and their school


Challenging IB curriculum from jk to grade 12


Diverse, inclusive and supportive community


100% of graduates accepted to world-class universities


Graduates are well-equipped for future success

Our Promise

At Elmwood, we recognize that we have a huge responsibility. We’re entrusted with helping guide the academic, social and emotional development of girls so they can become thoughtful, intelligent, balanced and successful women who live well every day. We take this mandate very seriously and it shows in our academics, arts, athletics, and other activities. We believe that every Elmwood girl has amazing potential, and our promise is to help them reach it.

Elmwood launched a new, five-year Strategic Plan in April 2015. This plan lays out the roadmap for the future of Elmwood School. Click below to view the plan.

School History

Elmwood’s first Headmistress, Theodora Philpot, stood out from the crowd in her time. She had seen some of the far corners of the world. She was not afraid to defy convention. She was capable of hard work and, even as a respectable married woman with children, she had plans that went far beyond her own front door. She was an entrepreneur, and her dream was to create a great school.

Elmwood—originally the Rockcliffe Preparatory School—opened for business in 1915 with only four students, aged four to seven. The educational ambitions of the first Headmistress were high. She wrote: “The discipline of the school and the instruction are in accordance with the best modern methods, and constant care is given to the proper development of each pupil and the fostering of good school spirit.”

Theodora Philpot’s vision rang true with many parents. Even in the first few years, there were exponential increases in enrolment. Within ten years, Elmwood School had a student population of eighty students, served by a faculty of twelve teachers.

After founding the school, Theodora Philpot retired to England leaving Elmwood in the capable hands of Edith Buck. She donated a Bible Box, inscribed with the words “Pactum Serva” meaning “Keep the Faith” to the school, and it came with a plea to carry on the work she had started.

And the work she had started did carry on to make Elmwood the school it is today, nearly a century later.

Modern methods, such as our 1:1 technology program; academic excellence, through the lens of the International Baccalaureate Programme; personal development via leadership opportunities and the Duke of Edinburgh Programme; and strong school and House spirit are still the cornerstones of the Elmwood experience. We are certain Mrs. Philpot would be very proud of the school she built.

Theodora Philpot
Elmwood Historical Exterior

Advantages of the IB Programme

The International Baccalaureate Programme is undoubtedly the best educational programme available today to help prepare our students to face the challenges of the 21st century. It is the gold standard in international education and has been shown to provide the best preparation for the most competitive universities.

The IB is most distinctive, however, in that it is more than simply a qualification; it is a broad and coherent educational vision, supported by a clearly defined set of values. It is through an IB education that we equip our students to become true global citizens, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. Cultural, scientific and technological literacy are embedded in a continuous curriculum, from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.

The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. All of the programmes, Primary Years Programme (Ages 3-11), Middle Years Programme (ages 11-16) and Diploma Programme (ages 16-19; optional), purposefully help students develop the skills and attitudes required for them to be contributing and responsible members of their local and global communities.

"We have been very impressed with the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). It has allowed our daughter to explore many aspects of her learning profile. The units of inquiry develop critical thinking and executive functioning skills while fostering creativity. This curriculum, delivered by Elmwood's caring educational professionals, is unmatched in Ottawa."

− Gary and Stacey Kay

"The IB Diploma Program at Elmwood is an opportunity to prove to one’s self the ability to face and conquer a challenge. It raises expectations and forces us to perform at a higher standard. The extended essay was, at the time, the most difficult aspect and yet I could not be more grateful for the skills and discipline it helped me acquire for my college career."

− Juliet Caragianis ’11, Yale University ’15

"We specifically sought an IB school as Madighan came to Elmwood from one. Elmwood's teachers are incredible and thanks to them, Madighan is receiving an world-class education. The creative way they deliver the IB program without compromising on core learning facts will allow Madighan to compete on a global stage. We find that the IB program truly manifests itself as a love of learning."

− James Ryan and Robyn Ryan Bell

Elmwood is proud to be the first girls’ school in North America to be accredited at all three levels of the IB Programme. Additionally, Elmwood is the only school in Ottawa and one of only seven schools in Canada that offers all three levels of the Programme.

There is a great deal of research that proves that the IB Programme is the best preparation for future studies. MYP and DP students participating in the High School Survey of Student Engagement were significantly more likely to feel engaged and challenged in school than non-IB students. They reported that they could: write and speak effectively; think critically; solve real-world problems; learn independently; and work well with others. They were also found to spend more time studying for class, doing written homework, volunteering, and participating in school-sponsored activities.

The IB Programme gives graduates an academic certification that is recognized around the world, offering students increased adaptability and mobility in an increasingly competitive job market. It also offers unparalleled preparation for university study. IB Diploma students are 21% more likely to be admitted to ten of the most prestigious universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Stanford.

Elmwood’s IB Diploma Program Achievement

Elmwood’s IB Diploma Program results are consistently strong and compare favourably against global and national results. Our Diploma Programme pass rate is 100% every year, compared to the global average of 78% and a Canadian average of 88%. The average Elmwood Diploma score is 33 out of 45, compared to the world of average of 29. In 2013 75% of Elmwood grades were 5 to 7 (out of 7), a level recognized as excellent throughout the world.

Learn More About The IB Diploma Programme

IB Learner Profile

Central to all three programs is a Learner Profile. As the International Baccalaureate puts it, “If life were perfect, we would all be inquirers, thinkers, communicators and risk-takers who are balanced, caring, reflective, knowledgeable, principled and open-minded.” At Elmwood School, we expect everyone to embrace these characteristics.

Value of an Independent School

We believe that the best kind of education is one that combines passionate teachers, innovative teaching methods, a wide variety of extracurricular activities, and small class sizes so every student gets individual attention.

As an independent school, Elmwood has the unique opportunity to offer all of these things and truly customize our teaching to meet the needs of our students. Elmwood students learn from exceptional teachers, experience a wider range of co-curricular activities, have the opportunity to take exciting and educational trips, and are able to take advantage of the latest technological teaching tools with our 1:1 technology program and flexible classrooms.

At Elmwood, we work hard to help our students realize their potential and become well rounded, thoughtful, and engaged young women. Being an independent school has given us more opportunities to connect with our students and help them connect with the world they’re about to enter.

"Elmwood does not just provide a caring, well-rounded International Baccalaureate education that is tailored to each individual student, it is tailored to each individual girl. The teachers all have a unique understanding of how young women learn, interact with each other and develop into confident, risk-taking citizens. From the first moment our daughter walked through the door she felt as special, as important, and as cared for as she does at home. The all-girls environment builds confidence in all areas of study, from the arts to math, science and robotics. The all-girls experience has proven to be one of the most positive—and the most surprising—aspects of Elmwood. "

− Evan Solomon and Tammy Quinn

"My years spent at Elmwood were among the most enriching, inspiring and memorable years of my life. Elmwood was truly like a second home to me. During my time at Elmwood, I made lifelong friends, formed strong bonds with my teachers, and completely immersed myself in the unique traditions and contagious spirit of the school. In the classroom, I felt challenged and stimulated. With the small class sizes and all-girls environment, I felt comfortable taking risks, asking questions, and thinking outside the box. Beyond the academic realm, my extra-curricular and leadership involvement taught me invaluable lessons about perseverance, friendship, and teamwork. These lessons and experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. "

− Sophia Dhalla ’09, McGill University ’13, University of British Columbia Medicine ‘17

Why All Girls?

Girls learn best in an all-girls environment.

And this shouldn’t come as a surprise. At Elmwood, girls take on all leadership roles, explore non-traditional courses, and act as role models to their peers. Our girls are given the opportunity to be themselves and this has produced high levels of self-esteem, has fostered academic achievement, and has created a comfortable environment for them to grow and mature. An all-girls environment is one of the most significant reasons why Elmwood students transform into young women ready to take on the world and challenge the status quo.


"To this day, the confidence that I gained at Elmwood continues to empower to me to reach my goal of going to medical school. Elmwood fostered a supportive all-girls environment where I felt empowered to excel in all facets of my life, from academics and athletics, to volunteerism and community involvement. I attribute much of my successes at Western University to the outstanding support and guidance from both my peers and my teachers at Elmwood. "

− Bronwyn Thomson ’09, University of Western Ontario ‘13

"The four and a half years that our daughter has been at Elmwood School have been an amazing adventure in learning and life’s possibilities. The classrooms are alive with creativity and positive energy, guided by the most dedicated, dynamic and talented educators imaginable. This environment and the unique IB Primary Years Program have, together, afforded our daughter the freedom to explore, experiment and to be intellectually confident—all in a stimulating scholastic environment, free from gender stereotyping."

− Shalin and Jacqueline Sugunasiri

Meet our Community

Meet our Board of Governors

The ultimate responsibility for the governance of Elmwood School resides with the Board of Governors which is the guardian of the mission and values of the school. The Governors are volunteers who function at arm’s length from the School’s administration. The Board works with the school, and in particular the Headmistress, to develop the school’s strategic plans, and it provides oversight with respect to the implementation of those plans. The Board also works to ensure that adequate resources are in place to maintain Elmwood as a premier school for the education of girls and young women.

Meet our Leadership Team

Elmwood School is run by a diverse team of passionate, experienced educators and seasoned business people. The team is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the School, under the guidance of Cheryl Boughton, Headmistress. The Headmistress is appointed by the Board of Governors and is accountable to the Board.