Sunday, December 01, 2013

Schooling in Metro Vancouver

After reading the guest blog entry "Secrets to Success (Part 1)" on ASingaporeanSon's blog, I guess maybe I should share my replies to reader NGS on my other blog entry "Boyfriend-brand dinner" and add a couple more comments. [And I'll litter the blog entry with some school-related photos at random.]

NGS was asking about where to stay in Vancouver, presumably with regards to his/her children's education. See his/her comments dated Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:20:00 PM: 
Hi, thanks for your comments. Actually I was referring more to Vancouver, which we intend to settle now.
A bit of myself, I have two young children, Primary 5 and Sec 1, and 3 teenagers ( two of them will be serving NS, and one of them will be following with the mum to settle in the year 2014.Thanks
[My reply on Monday, November 18, 2013 6:16:00 PM was as follow.]


I do not have any children and thus I have not done any research on education for the young. Here's some info and/or opinions that I've gathered from some locals and immigrants. Disclaimer: Take the info/opinions at your own risk.

For public schools, you will need to reside (i.e. official residential address) within the "catchment area" to enrol your child in a specific school. The school districts, covering each city, in Metro Vancouver, include (not full-list here):

For a full list of B.C. school districts, check Guru Wikipedia and ask Professor Google for details.

If you're looking for private schools, then it is an entirely different ball-game. Please ask Professor Google about it.

Generally, DTES (downtown East Side of Vancouver) is a poor-men's area, so poverty-related issues do creep up in schools too. West Vancouver is dominated by wealthy households. North Vancouver and Vancouver-west (i.e. Vancouver, west-side of Main street) has a more-even cross-section of the social demographics.

The folks whom I spoke to generally like bringing up their children in North Vancouver or Vancouver, west. That's all the opinions I've gathered.

Once again: Take the above info/opinions at your own risk.

Cheers, WD.


Yesterday when we were helping our friends (a PRC couple) move to their new home in Burnaby, the wife mentioned that they chose their home's location because it is within the catchment area of a good or highly-ranked school. That's when I heard about school rankings in Metro Vancouver. [Click here and here for more information.] Do note that the rankings are done by Fraser Institute, a research institution whose "research" invariably carries "right-wing" conclusions, so take the rankings at your own risk.

[Nov-2013: Kindergarten registration opens Nov-Jan]

One elderly Singaporean couple whom I spoke to told me that they were not too concerned about which school their children when to when they immigrated decades ago. In fact, they just enrolled their children in the public schools nearby as they were confident of the quality of education in B.C., Canada. Both their children are now adults holding professional/executive jobs. The caveat: They lived in North Vancouver. [See my reply to NGS above about North Vancouver.]

[Sep-2013 Classroom covenant at a private Christian school]

There are also private schools that market themselves to specific niche. E.g. Schools with a strong Christian emphasis. E.g. School with a specific education methodology -- say Montessori. One of my East Asian classmates believes in the value-add of a private education, despite its much more costly academic fees. She came from an East Asian society that is highly conscious of social class and, as a couple, both she and her husband were from the upper-middle class. Those who send their children to private schools should be prepared for endless rounds of donation drives and parent-volunteer activities.

[Nov-2013: Part of a public school compound]

Personally, here's what I have observed amongst the youths at my previous part-time retail job as they discussed about the differences between their school experience. [Note: This is a very small sample size, so please take my comments at your own risk.] Those from private schools were given the mobile phone numbers of their teachers and encouraged to speak to their teachers if they had any issues. At work, IMHO, the private school students/grads tended to "expect to be served" (e.g. "you have to train me for the job"), "treated with respect" and were more willing/confident to speak with (and/or take an issue up with) authority figures (e.g. managers). Those who went to "public schools" (mostly Vancouver, East side) were more likely to be treated as "just another student on the education assembly line" at school. At work, IMHO, they were more ready to adjust to their roles of being "cogs" of the retail chain (i.e. "just shut-up and follow the chain of command, and plot revenge later") and seemed better at the street-smarts of managing inter-personal politics at work.

[Mar-2013 Urban farm program in selected Vancouver public secondary/middle schools]

Some of the Canadians whom I spoke to preferred to put their children into the "French-immersion" public school system. One theory is that private schooling is beyond the average-family's affordability; parents who chose to put their children into French immersion obviously read and found out about the additional steps needed to apply for this "special" stream; and thus they (the parents) are likely to be more interested in their children's education; and thereby more likely to raise their children in "educationally-supportive" home environment which in-turns leads to their children mixing with others from such similar background.

[Nov-2013: Stream of Dreams mural that frequently adorn the fence of public schools]

[Nov-2013: A distant view of a Stream of Dreams mural that frequently adorn the fence of public schools]

I have also come across children who are home-schooled. These generally fall into 2 groups. E.g. Parents who think that "schooling is a form of brainwashing" and refuse to submit their children to be "stripped of their independent minds". The other group is wealthy and/or have "gifted" children; and the parents believe in developing their children's knowledge/skills as fast as they (the children) can learn/absorb.

Since I am not a parent myself, I do not hold entrenched views one way or the other. I think each parent will have to decide on what he/she thinks is in the best interest of his/her child/children. That said, don't be surprised if/when the child grows up and voice issues/disagreement with the parents' choice. There are no guarantees -- individuals can react differently to the same stimuli.


  1. Hi WD,
    Thanks for the update...appreciate it

  2. Hi WD,

    What about the Tri-Cities (Port Moody / Port Coquitlam / Coquitlam)...Any information about these places.


    1. Hi NGS,

      Currently, the Tri-Cities area is not served by trains to/from Vancouver downtown. A drive to Coquitlam one-way takes about 1 hour on smooth traffic. It may take 2+ hours to get there on public transport.

      Coquitlam attracted a lot of middle-class PRC and/or Mandarin-speaking buyers recently because of its Chinese name 高贵林 [literally "high-class forest"]. Coquitlam is also supposed to have a train station on the forever "upcoming" Evergreen Line, expected to be completed in summer 2016.

      You'd probably find relatively fewer PRCs or Mandarin-speaking folks in Port Moody or Port Coquitlam because the first word in their Chinese name is 破 [literally "broken"].

      All the schools in Tri-Cities are under School District 43.

      Since you've read this blog article already, just FYI that I've edited it to add an additional example of private schooling -- a Montessori school.

      You're welcome.

      Cheers, WD.

    2. Hi WD,

      How are you doing. Thanks for the information.

      Just to update, that my wife and two children are now staying in POCO area, since Oct 2014. I went back to Singapore, once they have settled down, and am presently here.

      I just want to know as to the taxes that I would need to declare, as I will be considered as a RESIDENT, and just need your advice on this, as to whether I need to declare my income for the period Oct to Dec 2014, and as Singapore / Canada had a Tax Treaty, do I need to declare.



    3. Hi NCS,

      Congradulations on the successful relocation of your wife and children.

      > Singapore / Canada had a Tax Treaty, do I need to declare

      I believe you are referring to the "Canada-Singapore Income Tax Convention signed on March 6, 1976" and the "Protocol amending he convention" signed on November 29, 2011.

      Personally I am not a taxation expert. If your long-term goal is to remain a Canadian PR (i.e. no plans to apply for Canadian citizenship), I suggest that you contact the Canadian International Tax Services Office get the most up-to-date information directly from the horse's mouth.

      FYI, when you renew your PR, the Canadian Revenue Authority (CRA) tax filing can be used as a secondary identity document.

      If your long-term goal is to apply for Canadian citizenship, then I suggest that you file the CRA tax returns regardless of the status of the Singapore-Canada treaty. Canada passed a new legislation Bill C-24 last year (June 19, 2014) that will eventually require new citizenship applicants to show proof of filing Canadian income tax. "The various amendments to the Citizenship Act resulting from the passage of Bill C-24 are coming into force in a staggered timeline." - quoted from the 2nd url below.

      Hope the above helps.

      Cheers, WD.

  3. HI WD,

    Thanks for the information.

    I just wondering if I need to declare my income from the period Oct to Dec for the year 2014, or do I need to declare for the whole year of 2014.



    1. Oh, thanks for clarifying. I assume then that you converted your COPR-status into "landed immigrant" status (i.e. start PR period) upon initial arrival in Oct-2014.

      For your first Canadian tax return, you declare your income from the date of initial landing (i.e. the official start of your "permanent residency"). Therefore you just need to declare your income from your landing date in Oct-2014 to Dec-2014 for the year 2014. I did a similar Canadian tax declaration back in 2011 Tax Assessment of 2010 Income.

      You're welcome.

      Cheers, WD.