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Schooling your expat kids in Canada

The Canadian schooling system is ranked third best in the world, and the reason behind this prestigious achievement is put down to the multi-cultural environment in Canadian schools – thanks to the contributions of expats living in the country.


Schooling Your Expat Kids In Canada

In international comparison tests, Canada’s school pupils rank among the best in the world. Because Canada is a bilingual country with no integrated national education system, however, relocating parents will need to navigate different systems across the 13 jurisdictions.

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Expats report that Canada’s International Baccalaureate (IB) programme works for them

Choosing an internationally recognised learning programme like the International Baccalaureate (IB) can have several advantages.

Elizabeth Sawyer, of Bennett School Placement Worldwide, says that the IB is available in many schools in Canada, as are Advanced Placement (AP) courses preparing students for the US College Board exams. Families looking for either of these options should be sure to ask schools ahead of time about the process for being admitted to an IB or AP programme, in order to be sure that their children have not missed any required courses.

One Canadian school that offers the IB is The York School, in Toronto. Praveen Muruganandan, director of Strategic Enrolment Management, says that the greatest advantage of the IB programme for internationally mobile families is the ability it gives them to transfer from one country to another with minimal disruption to their son’s or daughter’s education.

“The IB programme is unique,” adds Mr Muruganandan, “as it gives equal emphasis to all of the academic subjects, as well as a commitment to extracurricular activities. Upon completion of the IB Diploma programme, a student will be equipped with the skills and tools to take on the world.

“The IB is ideal for students who have a natural sense of curiosity. For students who are natural risk-takers, they will find the IB programme an excellent opportunity to enhance their learning.”

Regardless of one’s age, relocating to a new country, city and school can be difficult, he points out. To ensure that they and their child are well prepared, it is important for parents to “embrace the change” in order to convey a flexible mindset.

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Joining parent groups at the school, he says, will help to establish a circle of friends for the whole family before the first day of school.

How do we apply for study permits?

You must fall in one of the categories below to be considered for a study permit.
• You are a minor child studying at the primary or secondary level
• You are an exchange or visiting students
• You have completed a short-term course or program of study, which is a condition for acceptance at a designated institution
• If you are a holder of temporary resident permit (TRP) valid for a minimum of six months and their family members
• If you are the spouse or common-law partner (and their family members) who are in Canada and who have applied for permanent residency if they have been deemed eligible to apply (first stage approval)
• You are a family member of athletes on a Canadian-based team, media representatives, members of the clergy or military personnel assigned to Canada
• If you are a foreign national or family of a foreign national holding a valid study or work permit
• If your course is less than six months in duration you may not need a study permit as long as you have and appropriate visa in place.

What else do I need to know?

• You may work in Canada while you are studying with a study permit, but you will also require a work permit and certain conditions apply. Discuss this with your immigration practitioner.
• A medical exam is required as a condition for your visa to be issued.
• You may travel outside Canada while on your study permit if you have a valid passport and the required travel documents in place.
• Your visa may be extended if you are currently a temporary residents of Canada with a valid study or work permit. But you will be required to submit an application for a new temporary resident visa.
• You must prove that you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees, living expenses yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada and that you are able to fund your return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada.
• You must be a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record and not be a risk to the security of Canada. You may have to provide a police certificate.
• You must satisfy an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your authorized stay.

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