Private colleges expect an increase in demand for their Secondary 6 program, which makes it possible to avoid the obligations of the new official language law in English-speaking CEGEPs.
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“We have a lot of requests for next year. Especially with law 96... It's an issue, ”says the director general of the Académie Étoile du Nord de Laval, Josée Pépin.
In Quebec, the school curriculum includes only five years of secondary studies. In the rest of Canada and the United States, there is a sixth since there is no CEGEP between high school and university.
Many private schools therefore offer Grade 6, known as Grade 12 in English, which generally leads to an Ontario secondary school diploma.
Students can then enter directly into universities around the world, but also in Quebec, such as McGill and Concordia, in Montreal, without going through CEGEP.
The new Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French (Bill 96) obliges students in English-speaking CEGEPs to take more French courses.
According to a report by Global News, the anxiety generated by this new provision would have pushed Kuper Academy, in Kirkland, on the island of Montreal, to move forward the announcement of its new 6th grade program.
The management of the Kuper Academy did not respond to our interview request.
The Journal spoke to officials at four other private colleges that already offer Grade 6.
At the Alexander von Humboldt school in Baie-d'Urfé, classes are given in German from kindergarten to the end of high school. Each year, about half of Secondary 5 students choose to continue in 6th, while the others decide to go to CEGEP, says vice-principal Tobias Grygier.
“But if the law is maintained as it is, we can think that it [will encourage] others to stay in 6th grade,” he supposes.
Most of the leaders interviewed, however, believe that it is their personalized approach that attracts students, more than the language.
“Anyway, we have a limited capacity,” says Philippe Bertrand, director general of Collège Bourget, a bilingual establishment located near the Ontario border in Rigaud.
This year, it has 28 students in its non-subsidized Secondary 6 program.
“Some are a little overwhelmed by the college system,” says Suzanne Bailey, of Kells Academy, a private school in Montreal.
Among the forty students enrolled this year, there are students who have done all their schooling in Kells, but also young people who have not been accepted in their first choice at CEGEP, illustrates Ms. Bailey.
At Collège Bourget, it is mainly high-level athletes who are registered there because of their complex schedule, explains Philippe Bertrand.
Thanks to a partnership with an Ontario virtual school, teaching can be done remotely, which allows young hockey players who are constantly on the road to continue studying, for example.
More expensive than CEGEP
Secondary 6 offers a host of advantages, says Josée Pépin of L’Académie Étoile du Nord. More flexibility in the course to obtain the prerequisites, no R rating, good recognition from universities, the creation of a network of contacts in the dream field, she says.
With tuition fees ranging from $13,000 to $15,000, a year at Étoile du Nord is much more expensive than CEGEP.
Several 6th grade programs have emerged in recent years: in 2015, 2017 or 2019.
But Stanstead College, located on the American border, already offered Secondary 6 long before the invention of CEGEPs and simply never stopped offering it, explains director Joanne Carruthers.
“Some people think that 6th grade is a way to skip a year, but that's not the case since most then do [the equivalent of a baccalaureate] 4 years at the university. It's just a different system," she says.
The Ministry of Education did not respond to our questions yesterday.