What you should know about Canadian boarding schools
The school year in Canada lasts approximately 10 months and is generally divided into two semesters. In Canada the education system remains the responsibility of the individual provinces, which means that each province has its own regulations as well as its own individual school rules.
Information concerning the regulations of the individual provinces can be found on the following website: Council of Ministers of Education, Canada
Boarding schools in Canada close during the holidays and over long weekends. Even international pupils must leave the campus during this time. Often international pupils are invited by other pupils and in that way can get to know the Canadian way of life among typical Canadian families. Every boarding school is prepared to find a guest family for this period. Some schools even work with official organisations who arrange such services, against a fee. Some boarding schools offer school trips to various regions of the country, also for a fee.
Activities and Equipment
Traditionally, Canadian boarding schools place great value on sport and art. There are many different courses for all possible types of sport and the sports’ facilities are mostly of the highest standard. Many schools even have their own ice hockey rink, and some have a swimming pool. Provision is made for various activities in arts and crafts, which range from drawing, painting, sculpture and pottery to photography. Some schools even offer dance courses, and at almost all boarding schools pupils can take part in theatre groups.
Canadian boarding schools place less value on accommodation, which is clean but often only equipped with the bare necessities. Nevertheless, optimal care is always ensured.
In computing, Canadian schools are way ahead of schools in other parts of the world. Computers are often used during lessons and homework must sometimes be done on the PC; voicemail, internet access in the rooms and an own e-mail address are the standard.
Types of Boarding School in Canada
Traditionally, Canadian boarding schools place great value on sport and art. There are many different courses for all possible types of sport and the sports’ facilities are mostly of the highest standard. Many schools even have their own ice hockey rink, and some have a swimming pool. Provision is made for various activities in arts and crafts, which range from drawing, painting, sculpture and pottery to photography. Some schools even offer dance courses, and at almost all boarding schools pupils can take part in theatre groups.Canadian boarding schools place less value on accommodation, which is clean but often only equipped with the bare necessities. Nevertheless, optimal care is always ensured.In computing, Canadian schools are way ahead of schools in other parts of the world. Computers are often used during lessons and homework must sometimes be done on the PC; voicemail, internet access in the rooms and an own e-mail address are the standard.When looking for a boarding school for your child, you will come across the following types of school:
All Boarding – at these schools all pupils live on the campus.
Boarding-Day Schools – the majority of pupils study and live on the school campus, and some commute from the neighbourhood and adjacent towns.
Military Schools – these schools follow military structures, usually insist that uniform be worn and educate very strictly.
5-Day Boarding Schools – at these schools pupils generally study and stay from Monday to Friday, spending the weekends at home.
Junior Boarding Schools – Junior Boarding Schools accept pupils from classes 1 to 8, with 6th to 8th graders normally studying and living at the school.
Coeducational Schools – these schools take in both girls and boys.
Boys’ Schools – as the name implies, only male pupils are accepted at boys’ schools.
Girls’ Schools – these schools accept only female applicants.
Pre-Professional Arts Schools – Pre-professional arts schools teach artistic subjects such as music, painting, theatre, ballet and creative writing. Pupils are also prepared for entry to traditional colleges or specialist schools such as musical conservatories.
Religious Schools – these schools belong to specific religions and normally require their applicants to be affiliated to a particular denomination.
Before the Boarding School Stay
A stay at a boarding school in Canada schould be planned well in advance. It is recommended that enquiries concerning the individual schools should be made about a year before the planned stay. The application process lasts a relatively long time. The strict vaccination requirements in Canada should also be taken into account. Most pupils must be vaccinated before their arrival in Canada. Plan at least 4 weeks for visa formalities. Find out in plenty of time about the application period.
Admission and Language Abilities
As a prerequisite for boarding schools, special admission tests and language certificates may be required. The admissions offices of the schools will supply information on particular admission tests. Depending on the boarding school, the “Secondary School Admission Test“ (SSAT) or “Independent School Entrance Examination“ (ISEE) may be required.
International pupils may have to prove their English language abilities via the "Secondary Level English Proficiency Test" (SLEP) or the "Test of English as a Foreign Language".
The minimum age for international students is generally 15 years. In rare cases 14 year-olds can also be accepted, if their English language abilities are satisfactory and they are mature enough to spend a year in a foreign culture.
There are various types of financing available for boarding schools. The financing possibilities are particularly dependent on the country and the boarding school concerned. Generally the parent or legal guardian is initially responsible for the education of their child. However, every school offers various models of support, which must be assessed per individual case.
Many boarding schools grant merit awards and sibling discounts. If several children from the same family are at the same boarding school, it is possible in individual cases to obtain financial discounts. These discounts are not very high and are only awarded by some schools.
Merit awards are paid out in order to promote particular talents, for example in sport, art and academic fields. If your child possesses outstanding abilities, it is worth making individual enquiries at the respective schools.
School fee payment programmes are not loans. Instead they allow parents to split up school fees into single instalments. The exact conditions must be individually negotiated. A list of payment programmes can be obtained from the bursar of the respective school, from which you can choose the appropriate payment method.
Tuition Loan Programs
Families who are not in the position to finance a boarding school stay can still send their children to a private school by means of special loan programmes for school fees. With the help of such financing schemes, school fees are spread out over a pre-stipulated period of time. Many such loans, if not all, are based on credit status and set different scales of creditworthiness. The schools’ financial aid offices can supply a list of reputable lenders, from which you can select the most suitable.
Further information concerning forms of payment for boarding schools in Canada can be obtained from the National Association of Independent Schools.
Further information on the subject of boarding schools in Canada can be obtained from the Canadian Association of Independent Schools:
Canadian Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)
12 Bannockburn Ave.
ON M5M 2M8
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