5. Understand attendance at Catholic & French schools
Question & AnswerThe school I chose won’t let my child attend. Can they do that?
The rules for Catholic elementary schools are different than the rules for Catholic secondary schools or high schools.
In Catholic secondary schools or high schools, any student, no matter what their faith, has the right to attend if they live in that school zone.
In Catholic elementary schools, only students who are Catholic, or whose parents are Catholic, have the right to attend. But the school board can make exceptions to allow other students to attend.
Each Catholic school board makes its own rules about whether it will accept non-Catholic students in its elementary schools. If you are not Catholic but want to attend a Catholic elementary school, you should contact your local school board to ask if this is possible.
Usually, the school will ask you to provide a Catholic baptismal certificate for either the parent or the child. Or, if you have recently enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, you can show the school your letter of enrolment.
If you are a homeowner paying property taxes, you must also elect to direct your taxes to the Catholic school system.
A French-language school is not the same as a French immersion program.
A French-language school is a school managed by a French language school board for children whose parents’ language or family’s language is French.
You are only allowed to enroll your child in a French-language school if:
- your first language is French. This means that French is the language you first learned and you still understand it,
- you received your own elementary education in a French-language school, or
- at least one of your other children has attended or is attending a French-language elementary school.
If you do not meet one of these criteria, you can still apply to a French-language school, but it is up to the school board to decide if they will let you enroll. They are allowed to say no.
French immersion program
A French immersion program is a program offered by an English-language school board. French does not have to be the family’s first language. Every French immersion program is different. In some programs, 100% of the is taught in French. In others, French is only used in some classes.
Each school board can set its own rules about which students can attend French immersion.