When you and your family are planning a move to one of Canada’s prospering cities, you’re bound to have a litany of questions. Things like, “where are we going to live?” or “what’s the best bakery in town?” will surely swirl around the top of the list. But right up there with the most pressing of questions is often one of the more complicated ones: “Where am I going to send my kids to school?”
Fortunately, Canada is a fantastic destination for expat families when it comes to schooling. While there’s thousands of public schools scattered across the country that expat children can attend for free, where Canada really thrives is in the private school system.
This is because educational matters are handled on a provincial level (as opposed to a nation-wide level), so every province has different standards when it comes to public schooling. On the flip-side, private schools offer a standardized and consistent educational platform. Although more expensive, the quality of schooling is amplified thanks to more modern resources and better instruction. And for expat children looking to acclimate to Canada, International Schools are an excellent private school choice.
WHAT ARE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOLS?
An International School is one that is rooted in an international education—a curriculum that differs from the expected learning regime ingrained in the country. They typically offer a system that allows for credits to transfer from one school to another across the globe, which perfectly suits expat families who are on the move due to workplace demands. International schools are brimming with a multinational—and often multilingual—student body, which creates an enriching learning environment for youth of all ages. The curriculum is often taught in either English or French, but in Canada, some International Schools are taught in German as well.
International Schools don’t just pride themselves on a more stringent and methodical learning platform. They are also famous for molding students as more “global citizens” while emphasizing the study of ethics, diversity, communication, service, leadership, sustainable living and a deep understanding of global issues. In a world that is now more connected than ever, this well-rounded education creates lasting benefits in every student’s life.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL?
To find the best International Schools across the country, the first thing you should look out for is accreditation. In Canada, International Schools are defined by association with one of several international education bodies. The most popular platform today is The International Baccalaureate (IB). Although other platforms do exist, the IB programme has risen in popularity over the years, being offered by more and more schools as Canada adopts a burgeoning international population.
WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE PROGRAMME IN CANADA?
Founded in 1968 in Switzerland, the IB programme was designed to foster curious and knowledgeable students who will one day create a better world through intercultural understanding and respect. As a global educational body, IB programmes are not only standardized across the world; they’re also recognized by top-tier Universities as an advantageous educational background. The IB programme caters specifically to expat children whose parents belong to the world of multinational corporations or global diplomacy, and often require a great deal of movement over the years. They have programmes for youth of all ages, ranging from 3 years old to pre-University teens. In Canada, there are over 366 IB schools, and more are being built and developed each year.
THE BEST IB SCHOOLS IN CANADA, BY PROVINCE:
While we’d love to list all the IB schools in Canada, we also know you don’t have all day. That’s why we’ve picked out the top schools from each province for your perusal:
Branksome Hall: As Toronto’s only all-girls International Baccalaureate World School, Branksome Hall is an exceptional establishment that offers a global education to students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. With an international faculty and a sister school in South Korea, Branksome Hall opens doors for its students as they transition into an ever-changing and complex world.
Upper Canada College (UCC): Founded in 1829, UCC is an all-boys International Baccalaureate World School with a multinational student body representing over 25 countries. With state-of-the-art facilities, UCC is empowered by a mission to create transformational leaders while inspiring students to be their best selves. They offer schooling for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Lower Canada College (LCC): LCC is one of Quebec’s only English-speaking high schools, and the only one to offer the International Baccalaureate Middle Years and Diploma Program. LCC’s mission is to fully develop students in their mind, body and heart, while preparing them for success in a deeply connected, international society.
Académie Lafontaine: This school has been part of the IB programme since 1996, and offers classes for students in Kindergarten to pre-university. Successful secondary students can even get International Baccalaureate diplomas, which are beneficial for a university career.
St. Clement Catholic Elementary and Junior High: Serving students from Kindergarten through to Grade 9, St. Clement is a fully accredited International Baccalaureate World School. Defined by academic rigour and a commitment to global citizenship, this school is a leading force in the Edmonton school area.
Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School: Strathcona-Tweedsmuir was accredited as Southern Alberta’s first IB World School. It delivers IB programmes across all age groups, which puts it in rarified company of the 1% of North American schools to do so.
Mulgrave the International School of Vancouver: Mulgrave School is located in West Vancouver. It inspires students to reach for their potential through a fully accredited IB programme.
Alexander Academy: As one of Vancouver’s preeminent private high schools, Alexander Academy takes a holistic approach to education. Since Vancouver is already a multicultural melting pot, their internationally-minded program is a perfect fit for the BC community.
Balmoral Hall School: Located in Winnipeg, Balmoral Hall School teaches the International Baccalaureate philosophy from the primary years and onwards. The emphasis is on turning students into global citizens who recognize the importance of their role in their society and the world.
North Battleford Comprehensive High School: With a student body of over 1200 students, NBCHS offers an IB diploma that truly brings their “Strive For Excellence” motto to life.
Charles P. Allen High School: This Halifax-based school offers the IB Diploma Programme, which is primarily geared towards ambitious students in Grades 11 and 12. With a fervent commitment to learning, this program preps students extremely well for university or college.
Halifax Grammar School: Halifax Grammar School is recognized as a leading IB school in Atlantic Canada. Also geared towards students in Grades 11 and 12, where students can gain university credits from the IB diploma.
Rothesay Netherwood School: As a boarding school for students between grade 6 and 12, Rothesay Netherwood School provides arts, athletics, and leadership programs while challenging students to be global citizens through the IB Platform.
Prince Edward Island:
Colonel Gray High School: Located just minutes from the heart of Charlottetown, Colonel Gray High School offers an IB diploma program for older students that count towards university degrees.
Lakecrest: Designed for students between Junior Kindergarten and Grade 12, the IB programme at Lakecrest is an enriching and challenging curriculum that encourages growth and development for its students.
For a complete list of all the IB schools in Canada, visit International School Search and change the filter settings to Canada.
WE WENT TO SCHOOL FOR YOU
When it comes to learning about relocating to Canada, we’ve done all the research there is. And to make your life easier, we’ve compiled all that information into a compact and comprehensive Online Relocation Guide. It’s cost-effective, time-effective, and will help make your move to Canada as seamless as possible.
Also check out these other in-depth articles on international education:
PHOTO CREDIT: Branksome Hall International School, Toronto (Wikipedia)