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Education and Child Care in Vancouver

Welcome to the Canadian West Coast! Living in Vancouver is exactly right for you if you’re looking for new experiences in one of Canada’s most beautiful cities. We give you a detailed look at expat life in Vancouver: find everything from healthcare to transport in our guide on living in Vancouver.
The University of British Columbia is only one of the fine educational institutions of Vancouver.

How the Education System Works

In Canada, education is part of the autonomous responsibility of the provinces. Therefore, school systems and curricula vary tremendously across different provinces.

In British Columbia, schooling is compulsory up to the age of 16. The education system is divided into an elementary and secondary level. The elementary level covers kindergarten and grades 1 to 7. The secondary level then ranges from grade 8 to grade 12. Often, the secondary level is further subdivided into junior secondary school (grades 8–10) and senior secondary school (grades 11 and 12).

Renowned: Public Schools in Vancouver

Most Vancouver expats send their kids to the nearest public school. Canadian public schools have scored highly in international student assessments and have a reputation for generally high academic performance.

Public schools may have different profiles. One may put an emphasis on the arts while another has a good reputation for nurturing athletic potential. Also, there are French immersion schools, a public Montessori school, as well as several schools which offer an Early Mandarin Bilingual Program. Once you have decided where to live, you can find more information on the public schools in your area on the local school board’s website.

In general, public schools are free. There are tuition fees for international students coming to Canada to attend a public school. However, children of expats with a valid work permit are exempted from these fees.

The Other Option: Private Schooling

Mainly due to the reputable, English-language public school system, private schools are not as numerous in Vancouver as they are in other expat hotspots.

Most of the private schools are religious institutions. There are also some private international schools catering particularly to Vancouver’s expat community. Most of them use English as their medium of instruction, though there is a French private school as well.

Tuition fees for private schools in Vancouver range from 2,000 CAD to as much as 55,000 CAD per year. Some schools offer boarding opportunities. When choosing a private school in Vancouver, make sure the school is registered with and approved by the Ministry of Education of British Columbia.

Childcare: Great Quality at a Great Cost

Childcare opportunities for expats are plenty in the Vancouver area. Mostly, it is a choice between placing your child in a daycare center or in home daycare. Either way, you can expect to pay a minimum of 50 CAD  a day, often more.

Home daycare is quite popular in Canada. A number of stay-at-home mothers decide to offer daycare in their own home for other kids. If they look after more than two children besides their own, home day care providers are required to obtain an official license. They then have to guarantee a certain staff ratio as well as staffing qualifications.

Daycare centers are plenty, though they may vary immensely in quality. Besides doing your own research, make sure to seek advice from other expat parents about their experiences. The Vancouver Sun has a Daycare Ratings Database which contains information from local health authorities. Although it may not always be entirely accurate, it can certainly help you in making your decision.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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