In 2004, French-language Education in Ontario was visionary by initiating the balanced school calendar (also known as the year-round school calendar) as a pilot project in the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est. This project was focused on the needs of its clientele and adapted to the pace of contemporary life.
École élémentaire catholique Bernard-Grandmaître is the first Francophone school in Ontario to have adopted a balanced school calendar. Although the total number of days off remains the same as in the traditional calendar, summer vacations in the balanced school calendar are shorter, for a period of about 6 weeks. Students, teachers and administrative staff enjoy a week of leave in October, two weeks of holidays at Christmas (like everyone else), two weeks of leave in March (instead of one), and one week of leave in May. The school year ends a week later than in other schools.
“During the first three years, it was a pilot project that was designed to improve the retention of learning.” In the traditional calendar, summer holidays are so long that children may forget a good part of the knowledge acquired during the school year. With a balanced calendar, children have a break every seven or eight weeks. “That way, they do not accumulate fatigue,” explains the principal of the school, Diane Paquette-Lepage. “Our school day-care remains open during these breaks. We also have a day camp,” says Ms. Paquette-Lepage.
“Parents have been consulted from the outset,” explains the principal. “Those who do not want to enroll their child in this type of schedule still get to choose another one of our schools and still benefit from the transportation service“. The formula seems popular, according to a survey of parents conducted by the principal. The balanced school calendar — initially a pilot project — is now permanent.
Will the board continue with the balanced school year calendar in high school?
It is possible! Le Centre technique et professionnel Minto, located on La Cité collègiale’s campus, also offers a balanced school year calendar. The concept is the same as for École Bernard-Grandmaître, but the breaks are not at the same time during the school year.
“The schedule for Le Centre technique et professionnel Minto allows students and staff members to benefit from a week of vacation in October,” says Dany Dumont, principal of the school. “This provides the possibility for teachers to establish, as soon as October, contacts and partnerships with entrepreneurs to prepare the COOP placements for all Grade 12 students and some Grade 11 students. We are therefore a step ahead of all other schools in the region by being in full form to start the second part of the semester.”
Le Centre technique et professionnel Minto allows Grade 9 to 12 students to continue their studies in French. By being located on La Cité collégiale’s campus, students can also take college-level courses while pursuing their secondary level studies. Because of this partnership, students can take basic courses in most of the trades that interest them.
This is what a parent, Danielle Perron-Roach had to say about the balanced school year calendar:
“We have chosen to enroll our children at École catholique Bernard-Grandmaître specifically because of their balanced school year calendar. Being an exogamous family in a mainly English-speaking community, we wanted to expose our children to the French language and the Francophone culture very early in their lives. The balanced school year calendar allows us, as a family, to live in French throughout the year.”
Another reason to choose French-language education for your child: innovative services!