Grade 12 is nothing new at North Star Academy in Laval.
The private school has been offering the program since 2015, and will have about 40 graduates this year.
“It is getting more and more popular as people see that they do have alternatives and choices,” said the head of the school, Josée Pepin.
Last week, Global News first reported about Kuper Academy’s plans to launch its Grade 12 program in 2023.
Amid anxiety from Quebec’s Bill 96, a Montreal private school announces Grade 12 program
The program would allow students to obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, which means they can skip CEGEP altogether and enter university directly.
School officials said they had been planning the program for years, but announced it now to allay fears amid the adoption of Bill 96.
Now, Quebec’s Education Ministry is weighing in, saying it is “monitoring the schools that offer Grade 12 programs, which are not authorized by the minister of education or the minister of higher education.”
“This sends a very negative message regarding the quality of both francophone and anglophone CEGEPs, which both offer excellent pre-university education,” it added.
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But the head of North Star Academy in Laval says it is not a threat to CEGEPs, they’re simply offering an alternative.
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“Even francophones can do a Grade 12 if they have an English base,” said Pepin. “Some of them want to go to the United States to do certain sports. So we should have the right to education and to continue our education no matter what.”
There is a long list of schools in Quebec that offer Grade 12, and some have been doing it for decades.
There are even private French schools, like Marie de France and College Stanislas, that offer a diploma based on the school system in France, which also allows students to skip CEGEP.
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The Quebec Association of Independent Schools says this was never an issue before, and so it shouldn’t be now.
“It’s not really the job, in my view, to interfere or to quash a private program,” said Chris Shannon, chair of the government relations committee at the Quebec Association of Independent Schools.
Quebec’s education minister declined Global News’ request for an interview on this subject.
A spokesperson would not respond to questions on if they would make any legislative changes to forbid Grade 12 in the province — and how that would affect students already enrolled.
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