Schooling in Vancouver, BC - Mothering Forums
Canada > Schooling in Vancouver, BC
AussieMum_Vancouve's Avatar AussieMum_Vancouve 04:32 AM 11-12-2009

I am so very confused…

I have three children- triplets, 2 boys & 1 girl and am about to move to West Vancouver (From Australia) and my husband and I have began to looking into our schooling options. We have decided we want to go private, however I have noticed unlike the private schools in my home town Brisbane, Australia, children have to sit an admission test, even for year 1…

So now for my questions, how competitive is entry into private schools? (We are looking at St George’s & Crofton House as our first preference)

Do children have to resit admissions test to remain enrolled in the later years?

What age do children begin Year 1?

As these schools require admission test, are the children under a lot of pressure to achieve top results?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

clipfish's Avatar clipfish 04:16 PM 11-12-2009
I can't answer all your questions, but I do know St. George's is very responsive to parent emails.

It's been our experience that the admissions tests at the young ages are more for school readiness than academics, and that the kids aren't retested seperately once in.

The school years are named differently. Kindergarten starts at age 5, Grade 1 usually at age 6.

Are you going to be living in West Vancouver or on the west side of Vancouver? I'm assuming you mean Vancouver as the two schools would be a heck of a commute from West Vancouver.
AussieMum_Vancouve's Avatar AussieMum_Vancouve 07:17 PM 11-12-2009
We will be in West Vancouver- 21km/ 30min from the school. I didn't think that was too far? Is that a really bad commute?
weliveintheforest's Avatar weliveintheforest 08:17 PM 11-12-2009
I think it will be more than 30 minutes since it will be rush hour and you will have to go right through town. It depends where in West Van you will be, but I would expect it to be more like 45 minutes, possibly longer depending on bridges etc, and then the 15 minutes between schools.

I do have a friend who went to St Georges and says good things about his experience there, but it was about 20 years ago.
AussieMum_Vancouve's Avatar AussieMum_Vancouve 09:30 PM 11-12-2009
Hmmm... that is a long commute!

Does anyone know anything about Collingwood School?

Also thanks again for you help so far!
widemouthedfrog's Avatar widemouthedfrog 10:21 PM 11-12-2009
Aussie mum, I'd stay away from anything "over bridges," but that is my North Vancouver mindset. The Lions Gate Bridge is a terrible traffic snarl most mornings.

Collingwood, Brockton, Waldorf, North Star and Mulgrave are a few of the private schools on the North Shore.
clipfish's Avatar clipfish 02:37 AM 11-13-2009
Originally Posted by AussieMum_Vancouve View Post
We will be in West Vancouver- 21km/ 30min from the school. I didn't think that was too far? Is that a really bad commute?
Yeah. It takes a while to get through the city (and over the bridges). Distances don't mean the same thing as other places, IMHO. We live near St. George's and (though I'm admittedly a wimp about driving) we don't cross to North/West Van without a LOT of time on our hands. I always mean to get over there. West Van is a really lovely area.
dido1's Avatar dido1 03:49 AM 11-17-2009
Hello. I agree with the above posters that it would be a VERY long commute to get get from West Van to Crofton or St. Georges, as you would have to go over TWO bridges in rush hour. It takes me 40 minutes by bus to get from downtown Vancouver to Point Grey (close to St. Georges).

Are you absolutely set on living in West Van? I ask because my DS has just started Kindergarten at West Point Grey Academy and I am SO IN LOVE with that school! Excellent teachers and staff, wonderful focus on multiples types of learning, community involvement, social responsibility, sports, music and languages.

My DH attended St. George's and liked it, as did many of our male friends, but I really wanted a coed school for our son. The preK and Kindergarten children do not have to sit entrance exams, but do go to an "observation" session. At WPGA, once you are in, you are not required to resit exams or interviews each year.

Entrance is extremely competitive and it helps to be referred by someone in good standing with the schools. However, aptitude and fit with the school philosophy/goals is heavily weighted as well. At WPGA, hundreds of children apply each year and I believe they only intake 17 children per year for each of preK, Grade 1 and Grade 7. The other grades only intake as spots arise (if someone drops out, moves away, transfers schools, etc). We were very lucky that DS was offered a spot in Kindergarten, as there were about 50 applicants for four spots in that grade this year. I think the school was looking for kids who were socially ready for a full day of school and had a strong willingness to learn. DS had been at an Montessori day care for two years, which seemed to help.

The schools are all doing their information sessions right now, so I would contact all the schools you are interested in and find out there requirements, then go from their. I have heard good things about Mulgrave and Collingwood, but don't know much about them I'm afraid.
raksmama's Avatar raksmama 05:11 PM 11-18-2009
Lucky you! I lived in North Vancouver for 2 years and loved it!
I just wanted to say I agree with what the other mamas are saying. If you will be living in West Vancouver, choose a school in West or North Van but not in Vancouver. It will be too much driving!
We discovered North Star Montessori school just a few months before we left but we really loved it. There is also a French school that is supposed to be good, but I don't remember the name. Also I heard good things about the Public French immersion school in North Vancouver.
I also would like to mention that there are a lot of good public schools in Canada. I grew up in the States and have horrible memories of public schools so I just always assumed my children woud go to private school.
However after some very bad experiences in privates schools,my son is now thriving in a public Catholic school! It is the best school he's been in!
cattmom's Avatar cattmom 02:33 AM 11-19-2009
Arg. I'm really interested in Waldorf, but my husband's new job is in Fairview so we'll be living Cambie-ish to avoid the traffic snarl. Does anyone have any other recommendations for good nearby schools?
Also - a public Catholic school? Is that possible? The way our Constitution evolved, there's no way that could happen in the states.
Piglet68's Avatar Piglet68 01:05 AM 11-20-2009
Hi Catmom: Waldorf isn't actually a bad commute from the East part of town. You will be going against the rush hour traffic. The school is about 5-10 minutes from the Second Narrows bridge.

I went to Catholic school here and am not aware of any public Catholic schools?
chs89's Avatar chs89 03:52 PM 11-20-2009
Originally Posted by cattmom View Post
Arg. I'm really interested in Waldorf, but my husband's new job is in Fairview so we'll be living Cambie-ish to avoid the traffic snarl. Does anyone have any other recommendations for good nearby schools?
Also - a public Catholic school? Is that possible? The way our Constitution evolved, there's no way that could happen in the states.
Canada's education system is different than in the US in that there are religious public schools. Our constitution does not provide for the same separation of church and state that the US' does.

Here in Quebec because of our language situation, the system was done away with a few years back in favor of public school boards divided by language (English and French), so the Catholic schools became French (w/o regard for existence of English Catholics) and the Protestant schools (which also included Jewish schools) became part of the English school board. I don't know if the religious school boards have continued in other provinces or not. AFAIK, the religions represented by boards are those that have high numbers of members in a region. So, in Newfoundland IIRC, they have/had Evangelical public schools.
Piglet68's Avatar Piglet68 04:07 PM 11-20-2009
Ah, Quebec. That explains it. You guys are the "mavericks" of Canada!
Ms Apricot's Avatar Ms Apricot 04:37 PM 11-20-2009
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
Ah, Quebec. That explains it. You guys are the "mavericks" of Canada!
There are public Catholic schools in Ontario too. Since Education is a provincial responsibility thanks to the division of powers set out in the Canadian constitution, the provinces deal with this differently.

The Ontario provincial government granted full taxpayer funding of the Catholic education system ("separate schools") to Grade 13 (as it existed then) in 1985. Non-Catholics are also entitled to attend Catholic schools, since they are paying (through taxes) for it.

Thus, in Ontario, there are really 6 public school systems:

French Immersion
Catholic French Immersion
Catholic French

The difference between French Immersion and French schools being that French is offered to children of Francophone or French speaking families, and French Immersion is (generally) for children of non-French speaking families.

Each of these school systems offers a host of special education programs and specialized (elite athlete, special arts, etc.) programs.

There have been constitutional challenges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the system has survived so far. There have been strong arguments that Jewish schools deserve similar public funding, but their legal cases have failed so far. It will be very interesting in a decade or two from now to see how the public school system evolves, once there is a significant Muslim population arguing in favour of taxpayer funded separate Muslim schools. I predict the end of the Catholic public system before then.

Probably more than you wanted to know about Ontario and religious schools, particularly in a thread about Vancouver schools.

OP, when I moved to Australia (Sydney), I was a little surprised to find out how popular the private school option is. It's much more common than in Canada. In our North Shore neighbourhood, probably over 80% attend private schools, despite the presence of an "excellent" state school (according to HSC results - which is a questionable standard, but that's a rant for a different thread) in the area. There is a belief that private school is necessary - for HSC preparation and also for the old boys'/old girls' networking that goes on.

I'm not sure if you are interested in private schools in Vancouver due to the sort of beliefs I've encountered in Sydney about public schooling. I can't suggest that public schools in Canada don't have any issues, but generally I think the system is strong and healthy - more so than what I've seen in Australia. If you are in a community-oriented neighbourhood with involved parents in Canada, it's likely that the public school is a good learning option.

Just something to think about as you continue to look into school options. Good luck with your search, and with your move.
Tjej's Avatar Tjej 04:45 PM 11-20-2009
I don't THINK that there are public religious schools here in BC. I've been looking into schools a bit (DD is only 3), but in the Fraser Valley there aren't any.

I don't live in Vacouver itself, so I can't help you much with school stuff there, but I have found that if you are interested in homeschooling the government gives you money to do it. Some people on here have talked about "self design" as a way to do it.

Also, the province is talking about having full day kindergarten by 2011. It was supposed to be 2010, but that has been bumped back.


ETA: For the types of schools around here, I've found there are:
regular public
french immersion
french (but you have to have french as a primary language of one parent)
traditional (uniforms, more core-cirriculum oriented)
other - there are some arts schools and just other types of special public schools
private - these are religious or not, and they aren't particularly expensive (compared to in the US)
chs89's Avatar chs89 03:30 AM 11-21-2009
Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
Ah, Quebec. That explains it. You guys are the "mavericks" of Canada!
I am not sure if that is a compliment or not Quebec certainly revels in being different. I am just along for the ride since DH is from here

Sorry, I won't add any more tangents since the OP is asking about BC!
Laggie's Avatar Laggie 11:38 PM 11-24-2009
This is very confusing to new Vancouverites, but West Vancouver, Vancouver West Side, and the West End are 3 different places. West Vancouver is a separate city on the other side of a bridge...

If you are actually in West Vancouver then I would imagine the public schools are quite good over there. I don't want to generalize but I think that in higher income areas the public schools have fewer problems.
clipfish's Avatar clipfish 03:51 PM 11-25-2009

Not sure if you are still checking the thread, but we went to a symphony concert the other day and sat right in the middle of a bunch of kids from Mulgrave school in West Van. They were so nicely behaved and well spoken, and also very kind to my son, but I don't know much about the school otherwise.
AussieMum_Vancouve's Avatar AussieMum_Vancouve 08:05 PM 11-29-2009
Thanks everyone for the great advice!

We have decided that Mulgrave is our first preference and Collingwood School is our second. We aren't going to consider St George's and Crofton House as it will be quite a commute from West Vancouver.
dawncayden's Avatar dawncayden 12:54 AM 12-01-2009
I'm glad everything is working out for you Aussiemum, when do you arrive?
AussieMum_Vancouve's Avatar AussieMum_Vancouve 07:50 AM 12-01-2009
We will be arriving in January
sora's Avatar sora 03:20 AM 10-30-2010
These private schools are so expensive. Are they worth this cost? We can afford sending our children to these schools but I was wondering if it is worth it. Moms who are sending your kids to private schools, are you guys planning to send your kids to Harvard or Yale? We already pay so much taxes for public schools and I have never thought about sending my children to private schools before. I thought we would get decent education if we are in a good area, such as north van or west van. But maybe I should do some research....
Saf's Avatar Saf 05:31 PM 03-07-2011

Experience varies, but my experience as a tutor - for both public and private school kids - is that kids who like school & want to learn, do, and kids who don't like school or want to learn, don't. This is regardless of whether they go to public or private school.