Why do some private schools offer Grade 12?

With this educational option, students can apply directly to university and skip the CEGEP system.

Three happy students standing together with fun, while smiling and looking at camera isolated on white background.

The Sacred Heart School will join the growing ranks of Montreal private schools offering an optional Grade 12 pre-university year starting in August 2019.

Other local private schools offering Grade 12 include Kells Academy, which started in 2017, North Star Academy began three years ago and Lower Canada College has always offered the program. This year, Kells has 15 Grade 12 students enrolled, North Star Academy 18 while Lower Canada College has 74 students, its highest enrolment ever. All of the programs lead to a diploma that allows students to apply to universities in Quebec, the rest of Canada and abroad.

School administrators point to several factors to explain this increase in demand. At The Sacred Heart, much of it comes from having a growing number of international students attending the school, most of who plan to attend university outside Quebec, and who don’t really understand the CEGEP system, says Anika Maloni, director of academics at the all-girls school.

But even local students and their parents are expressing interest, because they like the idea of smaller class sizes and the greater level of support offered. “They feel that they would get lost in the shuffle of a large CEGEP,” Maloni said.

She and Erika Rath, director of student services, say they have no idea how many students will apply or how large the first crop of grads will be. The school is planning to offer science as well as a commerce stream, because those fields are usually the most popular for their graduates, but if demand is high enough they say they might consider adding a social science stream as well. The school will use an online program through the Ontario Virtual School, together with classes taught by The Sacred Heart teachers.

Emily Marosi, who works in the department of communications at Kells, says one of the advantages is that students can work at their own speed, and still get support from their teachers before turning in online assignments. Some classes, such as English or math, are taught as a group, then students break into smaller groups for commerce, science or other arts courses. “We felt it was a nice option for students to be able to take the program and go directly to university,” she said.

Debbie Kohoutek, Secretary and Admission Officer for North Star Academy Laval, says it is a good alternative for students who don’t want to spend two or three years in CEGEP and that the success of the program is due to individual mentoring, subject support, small classroom sizes as well as a focus on independent learning, which prepares them for university.

LCC offers both a regular Grade 12 program, and the combined two-year Grade 11 and 12 International Baccalaureate diploma. Typically, half the students are Grade 11 grads and half come from other schools, though this year roughly 60 per cent are returning Grade 11 students.

While Grade 12 is a great option for some students, for others CEGEP may be a better choice said Dawn Levy, LCC’s director of enrolment and communications.

According to Levy, CEGEP may be a better fit for students who want to explore more options, or who might need more time to gain maturity before heading to university. In addition, there are some Quebec university programs, such as pre-law and pre-med, that require a DEC (the CEGEP diploma).

Grade 12 tends to be a good fit for students who are very focused and motivated, she says.

“Something that really brings the whole group together is that they all want to go off to university,” Levy said. “It’s a very intense, focused year.”


Schools that offer Grade 12

The Sacred Heart School • sacredheart.qc.ca

Kells Academy • kells.ca

Lower Canada College • lcc.ca

North Star Academy • northstaracademy.ca

Bishop’s College School • bishopscollegeschool.com

Alexander von Humboldt School • avh.montreal.qc.ca

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