Monthly Archives: October 2015

International Schools Teach the World in Canada

Which one is true?

1) International private schools in Canada teach the children of foreign professionals temporarily posted here.

2) International private schools teach the children of Canadian parents looking for more of a globally conscious education.

3) International private schools attract children from outside Canada specifically to attend international Canadian schools.

It turns out all are true.

Canadian private schools that offer international curricula are as varied as the students and their motivations for attending.

“I don’t think I would say that there’s any one type of family that sends their kids to TFS,” said Khalil Mair, a Grade 12 student at the Toronto French School. “Just with the people I know, there’s an insane amount of diversity.”

Mr. Mair grew up in Toronto. His father is Jamaican and his mother has an Indian background and is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The main draw of the school was not just to learn French, but to study the French national curriculum, which TFS also includes in its classwork, along with the Ontario curriculum and International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework.

“The French curriculum stresses a lot more the humanities and looking at the world through the lens of cultural changes, not necessarily political ones,” Mr. Mair said.

The added French national classwork includes a French accreditation process for the school and visits by French education inspectors, said Josep Gonzalez-Medina, TFS’s new head of the school. In Grade 9, students take the Brevet exams (the same as in France) to receive the Diplôme National du Brevet des Collèges, he noted.

It’s a deeper inclusion of international coursework than, say, a typical French immersion program. And that is the difference international private schools are emphasizing.

At the German International School Toronto, there is a mix of Ontario and German curriculums. “The Canadian system is largely a content, goal-oriented system, whereas the German system certainly has its goals, but it’s process-oriented. It teaches a child how to do something within a big paradigm,” said the school’s vice-principal, Manfred von Vulte.

In language classes, for instance, the focus is less on reaching the goal of a student writing a full paragraph by a certain age. It is instead on the process of planning and ordering thoughts to come up with a piece of writing.

For a German child coming to Canada and attending a Canadian school for a few years, it can be difficult to reintegrate into the German system, given the differences. So it helps to have both.

And because of its small size, the German International School Toronto only extends to Grade 8 for students who will integrate into the Canadian school system, or up to Grade 10 for students who continue solely on the German educational track and plan to attend a school in Germany or another German school abroad.

It is an example of how much international private schools can vary from traditional Canadian schooling.

Another different kind of international school is Pearson College UWC in Victoria, a senior secondary program that generally takes students who would be entering Grade 12. The program is two years (effectively Grade 12 and Grade 13 or gap year), and the students are typically between 16 and 19 years old. A quarter of the students are Canadians, but the rest come from 100 different countries.

Pearson is one of 15 United World Colleges and one of only two in North America. The organization was among the first in the world to institute the International Baccalaureate, now commonly offered at many schools.

“We are a combination of the IB and experiential learning, including outdoor education, which was very much a part of the philosophy of [German educator] Kurt Hahn, who founded the United World College movement,” said Désirée McGraw, the president of Pearson. The aim is for the schools to be a force in uniting people.

In practice, that means students work closely together, with an emphasis on being able to communicate their cultural views and understand others. They may not always agree with each other, but the onus is on communication.

“It’s a very forward-looking, idealistic mission,” Ms. McGraw said. Along with the academic work, there is a co-curriculum dubbed CAS (creativity, action, service) in which students can do community service, outdoor activities and pursue the arts.

Students are chosen through national committees around the world, and the one-tenth who are accepted from many thousands of applicants get dispersed throughout the 15 United World Colleges, Ms. McGraw said. In Canada, there are committees in each province and territory to vet candidates.

“There is a sense that we are part of an international community with international connections ,” Mr. Gonzalez-Medina said.

Cell Phone app launched to help first time International Students


Sheridan College in Canada has launched an app designed to make integration onto the campus easier for international students.

The app targets first-time international students, offering pre-departure support and information once on campus including how to set up a bank account and grocery shopping.

The app was launched in May and Sheridan promoted it during pre-departure orientation in China and India in July. To date it has been downloaded over 1,100 times for both Android and Apple operating systems.

“We have been extremely pleased with the improvements we’ve seen in student responsiveness and communication, and it’s directly attributable to the use of the app,” said Andrew Ness, director of Sheridan’s International Centre.

“As the start of term draws closer, more and more students are using it. It’s a key part of our strategy to integrate and acclimatise our new students and is working beautifully.”

The app helps students in the pre-departure process with checklists and airport arrival assistance. After arriving, they’re able to access information on parking rules, campus maps and locating places of worship.

The app is available in several languages and was developed by a former Sheridan international student, Ganesh Neelanjanmat.

Last year, the Toronto-area college hosted 1,500 international students. Ness said he was interested in developing the app in order to streamline the process for the growing number of foreign students coming to Sheridan.



New McKenzie College Program Draws Interest


Kailynn Hachey is happy to be ahead of the curve, enrolling in a new software tester diploma program at McKenzie College just weeks before BMM Testlabs announced an expansion of its Moncton operations by 1,000 people over five years.

Hachey graduated from high school in 2013 has been looking for employment opportunities.

“I’ve been working part-time jobs on my own since then, just thinking, maybe I’ll find something tomorrow,” said Hachey.

“And I got wind of this program and I knew if I didn’t immediately go for it I would never go for it, so I jumped on the opportunity and got into the class.”

The 11-month diploma program that teaches students how to be a software tester, was suggested by her cousin, a fellow student.

Last Thursday, Hachey and her entire class was at the Capitol Theatre when the company announced its plans to create 1,000 new jobs.

“The job with BMM or any of the other companies would be awesome and to make it a career, when I’ve been so into computers since I was young,” Hachey said.

“I can stay here, I can live my life here, I can have a good career here, instead of going God knows where.”

Dale Ritchie, the president of McKenzie College, said the program was developed with BBM, knowing its plans to expand its operations in Moncton.

“We’ve been run off our feet just answering inquiries and explaining to the new prospective students what it’s all about,” he said.

“You can imagine there’s been a lot of interest because of the press, and the announcement and the excitement around this opportunity.”

Judson Murray, an instructor of software testing at McKenzie College, says the announcement is exciting, but software testing — also known as quality assurance — is a growing industry in many sectors.

“Quite simply, what they are training to do is to help organizations verify that the software solutions they are creating work as advertised,” Murray said.

Nine students are currently enrolled in the diploma program, that includes a design component, testing fundamentals, and test automation. The program finishes with a six-week internship at BMM.

Another session with 20 students is planned to start in November. Ritchie says the college has facilities to manage four sessions of this size a year.

McKenzie College is a private institute and does not receive public funding.