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Toronto Catholic District School Board

The House System house_system.jpg

 
The house system is a traditional feature of schools in the English-speaking world, particularly in Commonwealth countries (like Canada), and originated in England.  A school is divided into subunits called 'houses' and each student is allocated to one house upon enrolment. Houses may compete with one another at sports and maybe in other ways, thus providing a focus for group loyalty.
 
Different schools will have a different number of houses, so that some might have more than 10 houses or as few as four.  Historically, the house system was associated with established public schools in England, especially full boarding schools, where a 'house' referred to a boarding house at the school. In modern times, in both day and boarding schools, the word 'house' may refer only to a grouping of pupils, rather than to a particular building.
 
Houses may be named after saints, famous historical alumni, or notable regional topics (e.g., at Epiphany, our Houses are named after the Four Magi who visited the newborn King). Other more arbitrary names—animal names or colours, for example—are also often used. Each house will usually also be identified by its own symbol, logo, banner, or colours.
 
One of the main purposes of schools is to provide care for a child during the school day - The house system was originally established to provide pastoral care to the students. With parents absent, children are likely to depend on the school to look after their basic physical, social and emotional needs throughout their stay at school.  The Harry Potter books have updated the boarding school model to modern values and in some respects the modern depiction of the House System in some schools. 
 
Competition between Houses
A secondary feature of house systems is the friendly competition between houses. For example, the traditional school sports day is usually an inter-house competition. Friendly competitions, fundraisers, and charity drives are also often organized along House lines for the benefit of the whole school and/or the benefitting organization. Merit points for positive comportment in all areas of school life, participatory engagement in activities and demonstrating leadership may also be totalled up for comparison between houses.  The culmination is the tallying of all house merit points in an effort for a particular house with the most points to win “The House Cup” and possibly a token prize at the end of the year.
 
Student Leaders (House Captains)house captain1.jpg
Pupils are usually assigned to houses randomly, perhaps with the aim of balancing the houses in order to increase competition. Sometimes the assignment is based on the social and emotional needs of the student and to ensure proper peer mentoring is enhanced with the right fit of students within a house.  Traditionally, however, once a pupil has been assigned to a house, any younger siblings he or she has may automatically become members of that house when they arrive at the school (unless parents feel otherwise). Once a pupil has been allocated to a house they stay with that house as they move up through the year groups.  One notable feature of the house system is the appointment of House Captains (e.g., at Epiphany there are 2-grade 8 students per House assigned to be House Captains), who exercise limited authority within the house and assist in the organization of the house and activities.
 
Staff Leaders (House Mentor Leader)Head_Of_House_Blue.png
At Epiphany, the term “House Mentor Leader” is held by the members of staff responsible for pupils in a particular house. In some ways, staff members can be seen as “head of the house”.  House mentor leaders take the responsibility of being role models and ensure that house activities are organized and well run and students are engaged in such activities.