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Education in the Greater Vancouver Area: 3 Different Ways of Approaching Learning Success

Updated: Feb 25

It's September; summer is coming to a close in Canada, and the mornings in the Greater Vancouver area are already quieter.

If you have school-aged children, you are aware that September marks the start of the school year. And, if your child isn't already enrolled, you may have some questions about the BC education system and the options available to help your child succeed.

As mothers, each of us has embarked on a distinct educational journey, one of us with a child in public school, another with a child in private school, and yet another with a child being homeschooled. We cherish the freedom that Canada provides us—the freedom to choose the educational path that aligns best with our individual family dynamics and beliefs.

In this blog post, we'll explore three main categories: public education, private education, and homeschooling, as they apply to the Greater Vancouver Area. We'll delve into the processes, options, costs, and other key aspects to help you make an informed choice for your child's education within this unique regional context.

Education, Child writing in a school setting

Table of Contents

Public School

Greater Vancouver is celebrated for its cultural diversity, which is reflected in its public schools. Students have the opportunity to learn and grow in a multicultural environment that celebrates inclusivity and diversity., is also home to a high-quality public education system. If you're considering moving to Greater Vancouver, which includes Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, North Vancouver District, North Vancouver City, East Vancouver, and the surrounding areas, it's important to be acquainted with the available options for public schools for your children.

The types of Public Schools in Greater Vancouver are:

  1. Regular Programming Schools: These schools are the majority of Public Schools (elementary, secondary and high school).

  2. Special Education Schools: These schools are designed to cater to students with special needs, such as physical or learning disabilities. They offer individualized support and tailored programs.

  3. Montessori Schools: These schools follow the Montessori philosophy, which focuses on a student-centred approach, hands-on learning, and individual development

  4. Arts Schools: Some schools focus on artistic areas such as music, dance, theatre, and visual arts, offering specialized programs in these disciplines.

  5. Language Schools: These schools offer bilingual or immersion programs in languages other than English, such as French or Mandarin.

  6. International Baccalaureate (IB): The IB Diploma is an internationally recognized educational program that focuses on students' academic, cultural, and personal development.

  7. Career Schools: These schools focus on preparing students for specific careers or technical skills, such as technology, healthcare, or engineering.

Important: When registering your children for school, they will be directly placed in the school nearest to your home. If you wish to enroll them in a different type of school, you will need to request a transfer and wait for availability to allow registration in that other school.

Locating Public Schools in Your District

Vancouver, the largest city in the region, offers a diverse range of public schools. Notable secondary schools like Kitsilano Secondary and Eric Hamber Secondary are known for their academic excellence and vibrant student life. Vancouver also boasts several prestigious Elementary schools, including Lord Roberts Elementary and Kerrisdale Elementary.

French Immersion Schools: Ecole Jules Quesnel Elementary

IB Diploma Programme: Lord Byng Secondary School

Montessori Elementary Schools: Montessori Elementary School

In North Vancouver City, the North Vancouver School District operates several public schools. Here, you'll find notable secondary schools like Sutherland Secondary and Carson Graham Secondary, known for their academic excellence and exciting extracurricular programs. Elementary schools such as Ridgeway Elementary and Queen Mary Elementary provide a solid foundation for the younger students.

Montessori Elementary Schools: Seymour Heights Elementary School

The North Vancouver District also has its own School District. Secondary schools like Handsworth Secondary and Argyle Secondary offer quality education in an enriching environment. Popular Elementary schools include Brooksbank Elementary and Dorothy Lynas Elementary, providing a strong start for younger learners.

French Immersion Schools: Ecole Pauline Johnson Elementary

IB Diploma Programme: Argyle Secondary School

In East Vancouver, the Vancouver School Board oversees public schools. John Oliver Secondary and Gladstone Secondary are two prominent secondary schools in this area, known for their academic and arts programs. Popular Elementary schools include Laura Secord Elementary and Lord Selkirk Elementary.

The West Vancouver School District operates several public schools. Here, you'll find notable secondary schools like West Vancouver Secondary School and Sentinel Secondary School, known for their academic excellence and diverse extracurricular offerings. Primary schools such as Irwin Park Elementary School and West Bay Elementary School provide a solid foundation for younger students, often incorporating outdoor and nature-based education into their programs.

IB Diploma Programme: Rockridge Secondary School

In Burnaby, you'll find an excellent selection of public schools. Burnaby South Secondary and Burnaby North Secondary are recognized for their strong academic programs. Among the Elementary schools, Cameron Elementary and Brentwood Park Elementary are popular choices for families.

French Immersion Schools: Ecole Alpha Secondary

IB Diploma Programme: Burnaby North Secondary School

Montessori Elementary Schools: Montessori at Maywood

New Westminster is home to some charming public schools. New Westminster Secondary and Fraser River Middle School are notable institutions in the area. Hume Park Elementary and Qayqayt Elementary offer quality primary education.

Surrey, a growing city in Greater Vancouver, has a thriving public school system. Earl Marriott Secondary and Semiahmoo Secondary are respected for their academic achievements. Surrey's Elementary schools like Crescent Park Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary provide a nurturing environment for young learners.

French Immersion Schools: Ecole Kwantlen Park Secondary

Langley, located to the east of Greater Vancouver, is known for its peaceful suburban lifestyle. Langley Secondary and Walnut Grove Secondary offer comprehensive high school education. Langley Meadows Community School and Dorothy Peacock Elementary are among the elementary schools that contribute to the community's strong educational foundation.

French Immersion Schools: Ecole Belmont Elementary

Coquitlam is a diverse community in Greater Vancouver with a well-established school system. Notable secondary schools like Pinetree Secondary School and Dr. Charles Best Secondary School offer a wide range of academic and extracurricular programs. Elementary schools in Coquitlam, including Panorama Heights Elementary and Mundy Road Elementary, provide a nurturing environment for younger students.

The process to Register in Public School

To Register your children in a public school in Canada, documents such as proof of residence, birth certificates, and up-to-date vaccination records are generally required. Specific requirements may vary depending on the school and school district, so it's advisable to contact the school of interest directly for detailed information.

It's important to consider that when registering your children for school, they will be directly placed in the school nearest to your home. If you wish to enroll them in a different school, you will need to request a transfer and wait for availability to allow registration in that other school.

Costs Related to Public School

In general, public schools in the Greater Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada, are primarily funded by the government and do not require the payment of tuition or registration fees for students who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens. This means that basic education in Greater Vancouver's public schools is free for eligible students.

It's important to note that in some specific situations, fees or additional costs may apply for certain programs or activities, such as optional school excursions, specific extracurricular activities, or additional services. These fees vary and can depend on the particular school and school district.

Furthermore, if you are an international student or a student who is not a permanent resident or Canadian citizen, you may be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees for international students are typically significantly higher than fees for local residents.

It's important to check the specific policies of the school and school district where you plan to enroll your child for detailed information on any fees or additional costs that may apply in specific situations.

Private and Independent School

Private education provides an alternative to public schools. Choosing a private school in the Greater Vancouver Area offers several benefits, including smaller class sizes, specialized programs, diverse options, often boasting state-of-the-art facilities and a commitment to academic excellence and character development. These factors contribute to a well-rounded and tailored educational experience for students.


Private school's class sizes are typically smaller, allowing for more personalized attention. Moreover, the majority also offer specialized programs like arts-focused education, sports academies and other extracurricular activities.

The types of Private Schools in Greater Vancouver are:

Faith-Based Schools: These schools often align their curriculum with a specific religious denomination, providing a faith-based education alongside extracurricular activities and standard subjects. In the GVA, the majority of faith-based schools are either Catholic or Christian. Here are some examples of Faith-Based Private Schools in the GVA:

International Schools: These schools may offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs or international curricula, attracting a culturally diverse student body. Here are some examples of International Schools in the GVA:

Alternative Education Schools: These schools emphasize unique teaching philosophies, such as Montessori or Waldorf, and focus on holistic development and individualized learning. Here are some examples of Alternative Education Schools in the GVA:

Boarding Schools: Some private boarding schools in the Greater Vancouver Area provide a comprehensive educational experience, accommodating students from various regions. Here are some examples of Boarding Schools in the GVA:

Process to Register in Private and Independent Schools

Private schools have their admission process, which may include an application, interview, or assessment. It's important to research and contact individual schools for their specific admission requirements and deadlines.

When considering a private school in the Greater Vancouver Area, it's essential to research thoroughly, visit campuses, and speak with current students and parents to gain a comprehensive understanding of the school's culture, values, and educational offerings. Each private school may have a unique approach to education, so finding the right fit for your child's needs and aspirations is crucial.

Costs Related to Private and Independent Schools

Tuition fees at private schools in Greater Vancouver can vary significantly based on factors like the school's reputation, location, and the grade level of the student. On average, tuition fees can range from several thousand to over thirty thousand dollars per year.

Many private schools offer financial aid, scholarships, or bursaries to help make education more accessible to a wider range of students. It's essential to consider your budget when exploring private education.


Homeschooling can be a terrific educational alternative to public and private schools since it allows children to learn subjects that are tailored to their interests and demands at their own speed and with more freedom. Despite its name, learning takes place in a variety of locations, depending on the learning needs of each family.

You can homeschool your children by following the public school system or a curriculum of your choice in a more independent manner.

According to BC's government, homeschooling programs are not

  • Supervised by a BC-certified teacher

  • Required to meet provincial standards

  • Inspected by the Ministry of Education and Child Care

Types of Homeschool Education

When it comes down to choosing a curriculum to start homeschooling, you may be wondering where to start and how you are going to deliver it. To begin with, you need to know that there are eight types of homeschooling.

  • Classical Education for Homeschool

  • Charlotte Mason Style Homeschool

  • Montessori for Homeschool

  • University Model Homeschool

  • Unit Studies

  • School-at-Home

  • Eclectic Homeschool

  • Unschooling

Learn about each one and select the one that works best for you and your children. Don't be surprised if you end up blending a little bit of each; there are times when that works best.

The process to Register as a Homeschooler

Homeschooling is legal in all Canadian provinces, and registering as a homeschooler in BC is simple and must be completed by September 30 each year. To do so, after selecting the school through which you will register (it can be your nearest public school, including public online learning schools, or any participating independent school), assemble the requirements requested by the school and bring them to the school by the deadline.

Here is a list of participating schools where you can register your kids for homeschooling.

Costs Related to Homeschooling

There are funding grants sent to schools that are registered, but usually no funding is sent to parents; therefore, any costs related to homeschooling are solely at the discretion of the parents. In this matter, a homeschooler is entitled to use the resources that registered schools have to offer. For instance, public schools are required to offer evaluation and assessment services as well as resource materials. Private schools, on the other hand, are required to offer free assessments but are not obligated to loan resource materials.

Useful Resources for Homeschooling Families

Important to note: Homeschoolers are not eligible for a British Columbia Dogwood Graduation Certificate, according to BC education standards. They can, however, challenge the test and obtain one if they so desire.


In education, there's no one-size-fits-all approach, and that's the beauty of it. Whether you choose public, private, or homeschooling, remember that there's no wrong choice. The right path is the one that best suits your child's unique needs and your family's values and circumstances.

Furthermore, it's essential to recognize that educational journeys are flexible. You might start with one type of educational system and later decide to switch to another. As your child grows and evolves, so can your educational choices. The key is to remain open to the possibilities and adapt as needed to ensure your child's learning success. Your commitment to their education is what truly matters, regardless of the path you choose. We hope this detailed guide has helped you a clearer picture of how the education system works in Greater Vancouver. Best wishes for a fulfilling and rewarding educational journey ahead!


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