The majority of the population in Montreal speaks French as a first language. Thus, French is the language of instruction at public schools in Montreal. But support is provided to those children whose first language is not French.

Children start school at the age of five and finish when they are 17. High school in Montreal only goes up to grade 11, instead of up to grade 12 as is the case in the general education system of Canada. For this reason, students who wish to continue on to university must first complete another two years at a post-secondary college.

Public schools in Montreal

Children in Montreal start going to school at five years old in a maternelle. Grade 1 to 6 is ecole primaire and ecole secondaire is from grade 7 to 11. Students then move on to post-secondary college for grades 12 and 13 if they want to continue on to university.

Unless expat children are very young or have a good grasp of the French language, public school is not the best option for them.

Language in schools in Montreal

All children in Quebec are encouraged to attend French-language public schools. However, there are also English-language public schools for children who have already received some of their education in English. This service is, however, only available to children whose parents are Canadian citizens.

In French language schools, English is taught as a second language and English immersion programmes are also available. There are also fully bilingual schools in Quebec, where both English and French are taught as a first language. Many of the private schools in Montreal are also bilingual.

Private schools in Montreal

A large proportion of children in Montreal attend private schools. This is because the government subsidises certain private schools that meet its requirements. Most private schools are high schools and many are affiliated with a certain religion.

Children who want to attend a private high school will have to pass an entrance exam and will have to have performed well throughout primary school. 

Non-subsidised private schools in Montreal are expensive. Annual tuition differs between schools but can cost more than 25,000 CAD per year at elite institutions.

International schools in Montreal 

International schools in Montreal are the most popular choice for non-Francophone expats. There are numerous international schools in the city and many different languages and curricula are catered for.

Tuition at international schools can be expensive, with fees frequently being in the region of 25,000 CAD.

Application requirements vary from one international school to the next. Generally, expats applying to an international school usually need to provide the following:

  • Application form

  • Application fee

  • Copy of their child’s birth certificate

  • A recent school report card

  • School records from previous school

  • A photograph of the child

  • A copy of the applicant’s Déclaration d’admissibilité à l’enseignement en Anglais (declaration of eligibility for instruction in English) issued by the Ministry of Education

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