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Non-subsidized English schools in Montreal

May 5, 2020
13
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I am a French citizen who has moved to Montreal for personal reasons. My wife is originally from Quebec but she went to a French school so our two children do not qualify for a certificate of eligibility needed to go to English schools. I have read that private schools are exempt from the rules but this does not seem to be the case for most of them. I have emailed Lower Canada College, Selwyn House School and St-George's (all highly recommended by my local Anglophone friends) and was told my sons cannot attend because they are already too old (10 and 13) and the school can only accept students without certificates at the beginning of elementary school. These schools all charge about 23-25k a year, which I am more than happy to pay for, as the private school in New York that my sons previously attended cost twice as much. Money is not an issue for me but these private schools still will not take my sons because they do not have certificates. I find it a little ridiculous that these schools would take grants from the government on top of charging tuition. It appears that the provincial government here gives 5k to all private schools starting in grade 7. In the United States, private schools do not get subsidies and can take whoever they want. I did some research and it appears my options are very limited now. There are a couple non-subsidized, truly private English high schools like Kuper Academy but they are all in the West Island which is too far from Westmount (where I live). Kuper even charges lower tuition than the private schools that get subsidies (go figure!). In the meantime, for my youngest son, I plan to send him to The Priority, which is a small private elementary school not far from where we live. However, I have been told that he will not be able to get his certificate in time for grade 7 to go to any of the other nearby private schools so this is only a temporary solution.

Would any of you be able to recommend a good private English school that can take students without certificates that is more conveniently located than Kuper?
 
May 5, 2020
13
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Kells Academy - https://www.kells.ca/

Would you consider private school in French immersion or you only want English? If English, Kells may be your only option.
Thank you so much for your recommendation. It seems the school is fairly close to Westmount and even has a elementary school section which is a plus for my younger son because I would prefer he stay in the same school until he graduates. No one in my social circle has recommended me this school yet so I will definitely take a closer look. I am also open to French immersion programs but keep in mind my kids are already completely fluent in French. My main concern is small class sizes (20 students max per class). I looked at a lot of top French private schools (Brebeuf, College de Montreal) and it appears all of them have huge class sizes, which is not surprising considering how cheap they are. I actually would not mind my kids going to French schools at all if there was a better, more expensive option that more closely resembles the private schools south of the border.
 

Naturgrl

Full Member
Apr 5, 2020
20
6
The French schools will be cheaper. I suggested French Immersion just to widen your options as the 3 English schools you mentioned are the most prestigious and sought after to attend. St. George’s may be an option. Getting a certificate of eligibility is a challenge for even English people. My cousin is English, grew up in Toronto, & went to French immersion for only 3 years (elementary). When he moved to Quebec with his kids, he applied and they said he was francophone because he went to French immersion. He wanted his kids to go to French school but though it was strange that the government considered him francophone with little English.
 
May 5, 2020
13
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The French schools will be cheaper. I suggested French Immersion just to widen your options as the 3 English schools you mentioned are the most prestigious and sought after to attend. St. George’s may be an option. Getting a certificate of eligibility is a challenge for even English people. My cousin is English, grew up in Toronto, & went to French immersion for only 3 years (elementary). When he moved to Quebec with his kids, he applied and they said he was francophone because he went to French immersion. He wanted his kids to go to French school but though it was strange that the government considered him francophone with little English.
Money is really not an issue for me when it comes to the education of my kids. I would never consider sending them to public school and I am not interested in discount private schools either. That being said, I really appreciate your insight!

Unfortunately St. George’s was one of the three schools that I wanted to send my sons, but they take subsidies and therefore require certificates. Not an option for my boys.

Selwyn House was my first choice because I like the idea of a boys school, especially now that my sons are getting older, and they also have the most impressive alumni list. Most people in Westmount seem to favour Selwyn House for their sons so I was devastated to know mine could not attend. Apparently the way it works is if you or your spouse did not go to elementary school in English in Canada, you have to send your kid to Selwyn House at the beginning of elementary school in order for them to “earn” a certificate. Since my kids are older now, that is simply not an option.

I understand and appreciate the importance of Bill 101 to protect the local French Quebec culture but it is a little ridiculous when two French kids who are perfectly bilingual cannot attend even the most expensive private English schools. The law should only apply to public schools in my opinion. At the very least, they should provide the option for parents of children without certificates to pay the subsidy so that the government is not paying a dime.
 
May 5, 2020
13
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If money is not an option there are boarding options out of Quebec,
Thanks for the suggestion canuck78. I actually did look at boarding options in my desperation. Someone recommended Bishop’s College School to me. It is located in Quebec but is about an hour and half from Montreal and most importantly does not take subsidies so my older son would be eligible to attend. However, one of the main reasons why we decided to relocate to Montreal was so that my sons could be close to their in-laws. Boarding school therefore is not something I am considering at this stage. I myself went to a boarding school in New Hampshire back in the 90s so I do see merits in them, just not at this stage.

I actually know quite a few Francophones and even immigrants whose kids go to private English schools here in Montreal but I asked them and it appears their kids were all able to get their certificates of eligibility by attending private elementary school in English (often in the same school they are now attending for secondary school). It still seems a little odd that you need to have a certificate to attend most private English schools starting in grade 7. It does say a lot about public English schools when so many people who have access to them choose to send their kids to private schools instead. Seems similar to the United States in that regard.
 

canuck78

VIP Member
Jun 18, 2017
28,056
6,066
Thanks for the suggestion canuck78. I actually did look at boarding options in my desperation. Someone recommended Bishop’s College School to me. It is located in Quebec but is about an hour and half from Montreal and most importantly does not take subsidies so my older son would be eligible to attend. However, one of the main reasons why we decided to relocate to Montreal was so that my sons could be close to their in-laws. Boarding school therefore is not something I am considering at this stage. I myself went to a boarding school in New Hampshire back in the 90s so I do see merits in them, just not at this stage.

I actually know quite a few Francophones and even immigrants whose kids go to private English schools here in Montreal but I asked them and it appears their kids were all able to get their certificates of eligibility by attending private elementary school in English (often in the same school they are now attending for secondary school). It still seems a little odd that you need to have a certificate to attend most private English schools starting in grade 7. It does say a lot about public English schools when so many people who have access to them choose to send their kids to private schools instead. Seems similar to the United States in that regard.
Many of these people would have selected private education no matter what. Some want programs like IB, more activities, it is a status symbol, legacy students, many are attending a school associated with a religion, no good public schools in the area, etc. There are obviously larger class size in public schools and some children need more one on one attention. The rules have gotten tougher after Quebec immigration had become easier but a longer process which attracted a large number of English speaking immigrants who were not the “typical” Quebec immigrant. They all wanted English education and were not generally interested in becoming fluent in French as a family. Most has no intention of remaining in Quebec longterm so the programs were changed. The interests of the CAQ also obviously had a lot to do with changes to the immigration programs to favour French speakers.
 
May 5, 2020
13
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Many of these people would have selected private education no matter what. Some want programs like IB, more activities, it is a status symbol, legacy students, many are attending a school associated with a religion, no good public schools in the area, etc. There are obviously larger class size in public schools and some children need more one on one attention. The rules have gotten tougher after Quebec immigration had become easier but a longer process which attracted a large number of English speaking immigrants who were not the “typical” Quebec immigrant. They all wanted English education and were not generally interested in becoming fluent in French as a family. Most has no intention of remaining in Quebec longterm so the programs were changed. The interests of the CAQ also obviously had a lot to do with changes to the immigration programs to favour French speakers.
Thanks for the background info. What I am hearing from my local friends is that the English private elementary schools have much better French immersion than the public ones, which was one of the deciding factors to send their kids there instead of the local public school. The public English schools have Anglophone teachers instructing French, which is obviously not a good practice especially in Montreal where there are many native French speakers. There is also a local girls private school in my neighborhood called “The Study” that recently stopped taking subsidies from the government so now they have many rich Chinese girls without certificates. I do wonder where all these Chinese investors that now live in Westmount send their sons though if they are too old to get the certificate? Unfortunately due to the coronavirus situation, I have not had a chance to visit all the schools I wanted to but I will be able to hopefully soon.

Edit: I had time to do more research online this past weekend and it appears if I had come here as a temporary resident sponsored by my employer, I would have been able to send my children to any English school I wanted. This is the case for some of my coworkers but I cannot do it because my wife and kids are Canadian citizens so different rules apply to them. I have no one to blame but myself for getting into this mess. These rules have been in place for at least a decade so if I had relocated to Montreal earlier and sent my kids to private elementary school here, I would not be in this debacle.
 
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canuck78

VIP Member
Jun 18, 2017
28,056
6,066
Thanks for the background info. What I am hearing from my local friends is that the English private elementary schools have much better French immersion than the public ones, which was one of the deciding factors to send their kids there instead of the local public school. The public English schools have Anglophone teachers instructing French, which is obviously not a good practice especially in Montreal where there are many native French speakers. There is also a local girls private school in my neighborhood called “The Study” that recently stopped taking subsidies from the government so now they have many rich Chinese girls without certificates. I do wonder where all these Chinese investors that now live in Westmount send their sons though if they are too old to get the certificate? Unfortunately due to the coronavirus situation, I have not had a chance to visit all the schools I wanted to but I will be able to hopefully soon.
Unfortunately French immersion is not great. Purely French schools will have a English classes which is a much better way to become bilingual. The quality of the English classes are good. Most of the children of the Chinese investors in Quebec don’t have any or both parents around so the kids likely go to boarding school somewhere in Canada. Not sure how long QIIP will survive since it rarely leads to actual jobs being created in Quebec and most rent an apartment and move to Toronto or Vancouver. A good portion of QIIP owners became owners of homes in West Vancouver soon after getting PR. The QIIP is one of the many reasons real estate prices increased in places like greater Vancouver. The primary income earner of the family usually gives up their PR so they don’t have to pay taxes and it is essentially allowing wealthy Chinese to move their money offshore. Many are claiming no income and getting benefits while living in multimillion dollar homes. Actually now it is the children who are on study permits in Canada while purchasing at least one multimillion dollar home and driving flashy expensive cars to high school or university.
 
May 5, 2020
13
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Unfortunately French immersion is not great. Purely French schools will have a English classes which is a much better way to become bilingual. The quality of the English classes are good. Most of the children of the Chinese investors in Quebec don’t have any or both parents around so the kids likely go to boarding school somewhere in Canada. Not sure how long QIIP will survive since it rarely leads to actual jobs being created in Quebec and most rent an apartment and move to Toronto or Vancouver. A good portion of QIIP owners became owners of homes in West Vancouver soon after getting PR. The QIIP is one of the many reasons real estate prices increased in places like greater Vancouver. The primary income earner of the family usually gives up their PR so they don’t have to pay taxes and it is essentially allowing wealthy Chinese to move their money offshore. Many are claiming no income and getting benefits while living in multimillion dollar homes. Actually now it is the children who are on study permits in Canada while purchasing at least one multimillion dollar home and driving flashy expensive cars to high school or university.
Yes that is what I hear about French immersion in public English school. However, I have heard the French spoken by some of my neighbor’s kids who went to private English school and they seem to be completely fluent (of course they have Quebecois accent) despite their parents speaking little to no French. As for the Chinese investors, many of them actually live here from what I have seen. It was common to see little kids who appear to be Chinese in school uniforms walking back to their homes before the lockdown. I live in the lower part of Westmount (below they Boulevard) so not many around my block but I heard there are many more as you go up the hill. Many of my neighbours have good things to say about them. Apparently their moms are very active in the private school parent associations. Second hand information only though, I have not actually talked to too many of them since I moved here. Unfortunately the city has been in lockdown since March. I relocated here back in January due to my job requirements while leaving my wife and kids behind in New York. But with the changing circumstances, our whole family relocated a little earlier than expected but have remained inside for most of that time.

I do not know too much about the situation in Vancouver but it would appear a good chunk of the locals there are Chinese Canadian.
 
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canuck78

VIP Member
Jun 18, 2017
28,056
6,066
Yes that is what I hear about French immersion in public English school. However, I have heard the French spoken by some of my neighbor’s kids who went to private English school and they seem to be completely fluent (of course they have Quebecois accent) despite their parents speaking little to no French. As for the Chinese investors, many of them actually live here from what I have seen. It is common to see little kids who appear to be Chinese in school uniforms walking back to their homes. I live in the lower part of Westmount (below they Boulevard) so not many around my block but I heard there are many more as you go up the hill. Many of my neighbours have good things to say about them. Apparently their moms are very active in the private school parent associations. Second hand information only though, I have not actually talked to too many of them since I moved here. I do not know too much about the situation in Vancouver but it would appear a good chunk of the locals there are Chinese Canadian.
Think that fact that kids are fluent even though they attend a English school is likely due to the quality of the teaching, the high expectation of the parents and school when it comes to studying/learning and some may be doing additional courses/tutoring/French activities to improve their French. Many of the families are high achieving and the parents are “Tiger parents“. Not just the Chinese parents but most of the parents are likely very accomplished. Most of the children likely have activities everyday after school and on weekends from music, sports, languages, volunteers work, etc. The Chinese Westmount group are a small group compared to the Chinese diaspora in Canada. This group seems to have committed to living in Canada and Quebec and becoming involved in the community. Some may be working in something like tech or came to Canada through QIIP. Still a very small fraction of the Chinese immigrants. Most won’t consider Quebec because it isn't primarily English. It’s great to hear that the parents are involved in the school and community. Thwt is not always the case. Many of the larger communities often stick together and don’t interact with Canadians of various backgrounds. That is true for other large immigrant communities like in Brampton. 30 years ago most Chinese citizens only really knew about Vancouver and would only consider moving to Vancouver because it was closer to Asia. There is still a huge Chinese community there. In places like a Richmond you are at a disadvantage if you don’t speak Mandarin. As home prices increased real estate companies started selling Toronto real estate as better value. You could get a large house versus a condo and it’s a large city with good schools. In the early 2000s the number of Chinese immigrants and international students really started skyrocketing. Areas like a Richmond hill are filled with signs in Mandarin and you hear people speaking Mandarin walking down the street. As prices went up in Toronto, Montreal became the new “hot” place to invest as a Chinese real estate investor but not a place many Chinese would consider moving to. That is the case of other large immigrant groups like South East Asians. Most will not consider living in Montreal longterm or are looking at living in an English speaking area where other South East Asian also live. The French schooling is one of the biggest issues.
 
May 5, 2020
13
0
Think that fact that kids are fluent even though they attend a English school is likely due to the quality of the teaching, the high expectation of the parents and school when it comes to studying/learning and some may be doing additional courses/tutoring/French activities to improve their French. Many of the families are high achieving and the parents are “Tiger parents“. Not just the Chinese parents but most of the parents are likely very accomplished. Most of the children likely have activities everyday after school and on weekends from music, sports, languages, volunteers work, etc. The Chinese Westmount group are a small group compared to the Chinese diaspora in Canada. This group seems to have committed to living in Canada and Quebec and becoming involved in the community. Some may be working in something like tech or came to Canada through QIIP. Still a very small fraction of the Chinese immigrants. Most won’t consider Quebec because it isn't primarily English. It’s great to hear that the parents are involved in the school and community. Thwt is not always the case. Many of the larger communities often stick together and don’t interact with Canadians of various backgrounds. That is true for other large immigrant communities like in Brampton. 30 years ago most Chinese citizens only really knew about Vancouver and would only consider moving to Vancouver because it was closer to Asia. There is still a huge Chinese community there. In places like a Richmond you are at a disadvantage if you don’t speak Mandarin. As home prices increased real estate companies started selling Toronto real estate as better value. You could get a large house versus a condo and it’s a large city with good schools. In the early 2000s the number of Chinese immigrants and international students really started skyrocketing. Areas like a Richmond hill are filled with signs in Mandarin and you hear people speaking Mandarin walking down the street. As prices went up in Toronto, Montreal became the new “hot” place to invest as a Chinese real estate investor but not a place many Chinese would consider moving to. That is the case of other large immigrant groups like South East Asians. Most will not consider living in Montreal longterm or are looking at living in an English speaking area where other South East Asian also live. The French schooling is one of the biggest issues.
It’s interesting how you mention French is a deterrent for new immigrants. For me, one of the things that attracted me most to Montreal (besides my wife’s family being from there) is the bilingual environment as well the relatively affordable real estate. Even here in Westmount, which is predominantly Anglophone, it is still very common to hear French spoken. Regarding the housing issues in Canada, having lived in New York (Manhattan no less), my kids are super happy to finally have their backyard and their own bedroom!

If you don’t mind me asking, what is your educational background in terms of English or French, public or private here in Montreal? It appears to an outsider like me that English schools are considered more prestigious, even for Francophones. Perhaps due to its exclusivity (harder to get in, more expensive)?
 

AngloQuebec

Newbie
Mar 26, 2020
7
0
I am a French citizen who has moved to Montreal for personal reasons. My wife is originally from Quebec but she went to a French school so our two children do not qualify for a certificate of eligibility needed to go to English schools. I have read that private schools are exempt from the rules but this does not seem to be the case for most of them. I have emailed Lower Canada College, Selwyn House School and St-George's (all highly recommended by my local Anglophone friends) and was told my sons cannot attend because they are already too old (10 and 13) and the school can only accept students without certificates at the beginning of elementary school. These schools all charge about 23-25k a year, which I am more than happy to pay for, as the private school in New York that my sons previously attended cost twice as much. Money is not an issue for me but these private schools still will not take my sons because they do not have certificates. I find it a little ridiculous that these schools would take grants from the government on top of charging tuition. It appears that the provincial government here gives 5k to all private schools starting in grade 7. In the United States, private schools do not get subsidies and can take whoever they want. I did some research and it appears my options are very limited now. There are a couple non-subsidized, truly private English high schools like Kuper Academy but they are all in the West Island which is too far from Westmount (where I live). Kuper even charges lower tuition than the private schools that get subsidies (go figure!). In the meantime, for my youngest son, I plan to send him to The Priority, which is a small private elementary school not far from where we live. However, I have been told that he will not be able to get his certificate in time for grade 7 to go to any of the other nearby private schools so this is only a temporary solution.

Would any of you be able to recommend a good private English school that can take students without certificates that is more conveniently located than Kuper?
Top English private schools have been taking subsidies from the government since before Bill 101 was even created. The trade off is that these private schools can’t accept anyone without a certificate from grades 7 to 11 since Bill 101 was enacted in the late 70s. However under a previous loophole, it took just one year of private English school in elementary school to qualify for that certificate as long as you had not gone to French school in Canada before. That loophole relied on the exemption that anyone who had gone to the majority of elementary school “so far” in English in Canada could qualify for a certificate. It was meant for children of immigrants who had started school in another province (in Ontario for example). However, many immigrants and Francophones in Quebec used it to get their children into the English school system by going to one year of private elementary school in English so the Quebec government closed it about 15 years ago. Under the old rules, pretty much all private English schools took subsidies from the government since it was relatively easy to get their students the certificate in elementary. Under the new rules specified in Bill 115 to replace the loophole, only A grade private English schools can give their elementary students a certificate of eligibility in as little as three years. It takes non-Anglophone students seven years in a B grade private English school to get the same certificate so many of these second tier schools can no longer take subsidies in high school or else they would have to kick out many of their non-Anglophone elementary students starting in grade 7. The three schools that you mentioned are all A grade private schools so they’re able to continue taking subsidies from the government. One of the criteria to maintain their A grade is that at least 60% of their students up to grade 3 have to already have their certificates so these schools have to maintain an Anglophone majority from the beginning of elementary. Of course being in Westmount and NDG, they have no issues meeting that quota. Unfortunately for you, it also means your children cannot attend these schools because you came to Canada too late to take advantage of Bill 115. You only have access to the second tier schools and your children’s children won’t be automatically entitled to attend English schools in Quebec either.

My advice to immigrants and Francophones who want their children to go to English schools is to send them to private English school at the earliest chance. Otherwise, you’re penalized for every year your children go to French school which makes it much harder for them to gain a certificate. The only people in Quebec who can send their children to French school and then switch to English school without any restrictions are people who already have their certificates. I personally know several people who went to French elementary school then switched to English high school but that was only possible because they had one Anglophone parent.
 
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