When you’re a parent, whether to immigrate can’t be asked without learning about schools in Quebec: methods of registration, level of instruction, language, school routine. There are many questions, and the answers are often lost in the maze that is the internet.
You’re in luck, C&G Relocation by Classe Affaires has compiled the essential information for you. Our experts are available to give you personalized advice, help in choosing a school and registration assistance—everything, perfectly coordinated with the administrative formalities and your search for housing. Feel free to contact us to learn more.
Register your child in the public system
Your future address will determine your child’s school, according to the school map. The geographic zones are administered by school service centers (formerly known as “school boards”). It’s at the offices of the school service centers that the children of new arrivals are registered. There are French and English school service centers that are superimposed over the same zones. To access an English language education, a certificate of eligibility is required, and the conditions for obtaining one are strict.
Children must be at least 5 years old by September 30th at the latest in the first year of their admission. Otherwise, they go to day care.
Elementary school starts at 5 years old with a year of kindergarten, and some schools offer kindergarten starting at 4 years old. After kindergarten, there are 6 years of elementary school demarcated by ministerial exams in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th years.
Secondary school starts at age 12 and lasts for five years. Starting in the 4th year, students may embark on a program focused more on science and math, depending on the abilities and professional goals of your teen.
A school for each
Beyond the classic academic program, many elementary and secondary schools in Quebec offer enhanced programs in science, art, information technology, or English.
There are also specialized schools that the school map does not apply to:
- Alternative schools: pedagogy based on Montessori or Freinet methods. Admission is by application or drawing lots, and parents are expected to have a high level of engagement.
- Schools with “francization” programs: in the French school service centers, “welcome classes” enable non-French-speaking children to learn French. In the English school service centers, “French immersion” schools offer teaching 50% in French.
- Schools with artistic, scientific, or international orientations. Admission is determined in October of the preceding year, by application and/or entrance exams. These schools are in demand, and there are waiting lists.
- Schools specialized for children with special needs (motor, auditory, or visual, autism…). Note that certain regular schools have one or more specialized classes. The choice of the school or class is made by a consulting committee from the school service center. An academic and medical dossier must be prepared by the parents.
Is a study permit needed?
When a young person aged 16 or older arrives in Quebec to study, whether with their family or alone, a study permit is required. Starting at this age, they are considered to be a student at the higher education level.
A unique aspect of Quebec is that the vast majority of youths go to CEGEP (Collège d’Enseignement Général et Professionnel, which means College of General and Vocational Education) after secondary school either to pursue a two-year pre-university education, or a three-year technical program. There are also Vocational Training Centres.
University is accessible starting at 18 years old. Montreal has two English language universities, McGill and Concordia, and two French language universities, UQÀM (University of Quebec in Montreal) and UdeM (University de Montreal).
The “grandes écoles” (big schools) of commerce or engineering such as Polytechnique, HEC Montreal, or ETS for example, are each affiliated with a home university.
The University of Sherbrooke has a satellite campus in Longueuil, and the University Laval of Quebec has one in Montreal. The University TELUQ (Tele University of Quebec) offers distance learning.
School in Quebec also includes the option to educate your children in a private school; they are subjected to the same program requirements as the public schools including even the same language requirements, but they are not bound by the school zone map. Some offer education from kindergarten through CEGEP. Admission is via application and/or admissions tests.
There are also religious schools, and schools with educational programs from other countries: French high schools (Collège International Marie de France and the Collège Stanislas) and the German school Alexander von Humboldt.
French language private schools receive grants from the province, English language private schools do not, which explain the large difference in price! On average, a French language private school costs $5,000 per year, while an English language private school costs $20,000.