Central Middle School loses late French immersion to Shoreline

With registration for late French immersion just two weeks away, some parents are upset that Central Middle School’s program has been transferred to Shoreline Middle School.

Greater Victoria School District spokeswoman Lisa McPhail said the decision was made because Central, which will continue to offer French classes for early-immersion students, is operating at capacity.

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“Central for the past few years has been very full,” she said.

A large cohort of Grade 6 students is set to start at the school in September, McPhail said.

Late French immersion, which begins in Grade 6, will be maintained at Arbutus and Lansdowne middle schools, and is being established at Shoreline because it has space.

It is a district program, meaning it is open to students throughout the district.

McPhail said the overall size of the late French-immersion program will not change.

“There’s still the same number of seats available for late French immersion,” McPhail said. “If we were to continue offering late French immersion at Central, it would restrict access for next year’s in-catchment students.”

Central students currently in late French immersion will be able to see the program through at the school.

Cedar Hill Middle School used to have late French immersion but it was stopped at the beginning of the current academic year due to low demand.

Angela Carmichael, co-president of the George Jay Elementary School Parent Advisory Council, said the loss of late French immersion at Central — the closest middle school to George Jay — is “extremely frustrating,” since she had hoped her 10-year-old son would be able to attend it.

Carmichael said the Central decision affects both her son, who is in Grade 5 at George Jay, and her niece.

Late French immersion was the family’s preferred option, she said, adding she doesn’t want to have to send her son far away to take the program at another school.

“To us, we thought that the late-immersion French program was the best one that we could find,” Carmichael said. “We wanted our son to learn English, read and write in English, before we started him off with the French.”

Registration for late immersion starts the week beginning Jan. 28.

Greater Victoria School District has the largest participation rate in French immersion in the province, McPhail said.

Figures from 2017 show that about 20 per cent of the district’s then-19,000 students were in early- or late-immersion French — much higher than the provincial average of about 9.5 per cent.

Registration for early French immersion, which starts in kindergarten or Grade 1, began Monday.

Parents are asked to register at their French-immersion catchment school, McPhail said.

There is no need for lineups of parents eager to have their children signed up, she said.

“Because it’s in alignment with our student-enrolment priorities, in the event a school receives more applications for either kindergarten or Grade 1, it then goes to a random school lottery,” she said.

“And that mitigates the panic in people having to line up.”

English kindergarten registration also begins Jan. 28.


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