The quality of education in Canada is excellent and public schools in Vancouver are of a very high quality, while private schools set their own standard. The municipalities of Metro Vancouver each have their own school board, and each municipality is referred to as a school district. Each district is divided up into catchment areas. Your catchment area is the school district in which you reside. Your child will usually attend the schools in that area, if you choose public education. Because Vancouver has open catchment areas, you can, however, choose to send your child to a school outside of your catchment area (referred to as cross-border), provided that the school has adequate space. Sometimes this becomes a necessary option if you happen to live in a densely populated neighborhood. Schools in these areas are sometimes overcrowded, and if this is the case, your child will likely be placed on a waiting list. In such a case you might choose to send your child to a different school. Some of Vancouver’s public schools are very large, and you might prefer a smaller, more intimate setting for your child.
The best way to find the right school for your child is to begin researching local schools and school systems from abroad, early on, before you arrive in Vancouver. If you find a school you like, phone the school directly and ask to speak with the principal or vice-principal. Explain your situation (moving to Vancouver from abroad) and ask for further information about the school (demographics, etc.).
Here are a few links to help get you started with your research.
Vancouver School Board (VSB) — http://www.vsb.bc.ca/
Vancouver is School District 39.
Burnaby School District (SD41) — http://sd41.bc.ca/
Burnaby is School District 41.
North Vancouver School District — http://www.nvsd44.bc.ca/default.aspx
North Vancouver is School District 44.
West Vancouver School District — http://www.sd45.bc.ca/
West Vancouver is School District 45.
Richmond School District — http://www.sd38.bc.ca/
Richmond is School District 38.
Surrey School District — http://www.sd36.bc.ca/
Surrey is School District 36.
The Provincial Ministry of Education provides online information on everything parents need to know about sending their children to school in the province, accessible here: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/parent_ps.htm.
Our Kids Go To School website for list of private schools in Vancouver: http://www.ourkids.net/bc-private-schools-british-columbia.php.
A more comprehensive list of private and independent schools: http://www.fisabc.ca/directory/.