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Insight Please! Public Vs Choice Vs Private - Please Read...

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Insight Please! Public Vs Choice Vs Private - Please Read...

Postby kevelyn on Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:07 am

Sorry for the long post but I am looking for any tips/recommendations/personal experiences that I know you all can share. Please if you have any knowledge about the school system (private and public) please keep reading and answer whichever questions you can.

I am starting the process of learning about the education system here in BC and what options I have for my current preschooler for when she starts school in the next 2 years. I know now is the time (and likely too late already for most places) to be put on the waitlists etc.....So I have a bunch of questions and I know the school websites have information but I am not looking for the sales pitch but firsthand experience and know how about the schools and system – sorry in advance if some of my questions are silly sounding but this is my first child and I am new to BC so I am just learning.

So I know there are the standard public elementary schools - you technically go to the one in your catchment but can apply for others. Currently my catchment school is Vic West and I know in the past it has not had good ratings. The French immersion in McCauley.

What determines these ratings?

What are your experiences with Vic West and/or McCauley?

How does the French immersion program work in BC? Are all classes in French or do they just take a French class?

Other than the West shore area what would you say are the top standard public elementary schools in Victoria and why? I may be moving so is there another area I should look at based on the catchment school? That being said I do like the Vic West/Esquimalt community based on location.

I know there are also “choice” schools – so these are public schools with no catchment – what makes these special and different from the catchment schools? Do these choice schools have smaller class sizes? What advantages and disadvantages do they have?

I have heard of Cloverdale, South Park, and James Bay Community School – experiences with any of those? What sets them apart? Is the education better? Class sizes smaller? Experience comparing them to standard public schools? Others you can recommend? Where do they tend to transition to after grade 5 - where do the majority of them go to Grade 6 onwards?

Then of course we have the private schools – I really like the idea of Selkirk Montessori – is it really far better than the public options? Advantages and disadvantages? How is the transition to high school after being in private? I know it is pricey but it appeals to me. What is similar system to this option with smaller class sizes or higher teacher ratio within the public system or does that not exist?

Any insight on any of the above I would greatly appreciate!
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Re: Insight Please! Public Vs Choice Vs Private - Please Rea

Postby SlobberBug on Sun Nov 15, 2015 10:03 pm

We are a Vic West Elementary family. There are only about 200 kids, and I like that is it much smaller than many other elementary schools. My child's kindergarten class had only 15 or so kids, but I hear the kindergartens are fuller now because enrollment has increased over the last couple years as more families are wanting to send their kids there. It's a nice little school and the children are really kind to one another. I too heard bad things about it when we moved to the neighbourhood, but I was hearing those things from people who don't actually send their kids there, it was just rumour and gossip. In actuality, Vic West has some amazing teachers and staff.

Yes, French immersion means all classes are taught in French. There is late entry French immersion as well, in grade 6.

Schools of choice and private schools are held to the same class size limit regulations as regular public schools, which means you are not necessarily guaranteed a smaller class size anywhere.
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Re: Insight Please! Public Vs Choice Vs Private - Please Rea

Postby Samandemma on Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:46 pm

Many but not all independent schools have smaller class sizes. You would need to inquire atthe specific school.
the public "schools of choice" offer different things For example, South Park Family School offers much parent/guardian opportunities to help in the classroom; they also offer a nature/forest kindergarten. James Bay also offers a nature-based kindergarten.
some independent schools offer class sizes of about 12 to20 students/class.
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Re: Insight Please! Public Vs Choice Vs Private - Please Rea

Postby VicStepmom on Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:56 pm

Figuring out which school is good is difficult - do not rely on biased information sources (such as The Fraser Institute). The school satisfaction survey results might give some insights, but I do not think those are publicly available at a school level. Both public and private schools in BC must teach the same curriculum. All teachers must be certified - the Teacher Regulation Branch might be a source of information, at least with respect to whether or not a teacher has had a complaint against them or is in good standing. Look at the school website, and the PAC website - it might even be worthwhile to look through the minutes of the PAC if they are publicly available. You may also be able to take a tour of the school if they happen to have an "Open House" - to at least get a sense of the school.

My stepson just graduated from GNS and was quite pleased with it - as a parent they seemed to have a good school culture. Currently, my daughter just started at Sir James Douglas - and as such I'm still getting a feel for the school. Good friends of ours are at South Park and seem to be happy with it. We may decide to go private after elementary depending on how things are going.

Good luck with the choice!
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