What's the difference between a francophone school and French Immersion in Halifax?

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Every year around primary registration I hear a lot of confusion about the difference between the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) French Immersion program and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) francophone schools; along with misinformation about who qualifies to attend each program.

This year I wanted to clear it all up so I reached out to Stéphanie Comeau, the Communications Coordinator at CSAP, the only francophone school board in the province. She happily agreed to help explain their school system to us as well as share who should consider registering with them.

Stéphanie says that all of the students in CSAP are taught the “French first language program” developed by the CSAP in accordance with the public school program (PSP) of Nova Scotia , as well as the English Language Arts curriculum that all schools in Nova Scotia receive. CSAP students start the English Language curriculum in Grade 4.

Students in CSAP also “have the opportunity to learn and live the Acadien and Francophone culture.” This is, in fact, part of the CSAP cultural mandate. They aim to contribute to the “overall development and identity building, to all Acadian and Francophone students in Nova Scotia.”

The CSAP school board has nearly 6000 children from pre-primary to twelfth grade spread across 21 schools and 19 pre-primary sites.

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Who qualifies to attend CSAP?

To attend CSAP there are specific qualifications. Children must have at least one parent who is a Canadian citizen PLUS at least one of the following requirements:

  1. The parent’s first language is French and is still understood.

  2. The parent received their education in a French first-language program.

  3. A sibling has received their education in a French first language program.

It’s important to note that even if parents do not meet these criteria, but a grandparent does, they can also be admitted to the school. 

Another option is if a family has immigrated here from a country where the primary language is French OR not one of the two official languages of Canada, they may also qualify. These families should reach out directly to the school board to see if they meet the requirements.

What is the difference between CSAP and French Immersion?

Stéphanie explained that one of the biggest differences between the two systems is that CSAP students learn in a completely French environment, as opposed to learning the French language in a French Immersion program.

Any child who qualifies to attend school in Nova Scotia can register for the French Immersion program in the HRCE, but children must meet the requirements listed above to attend a CSAP school.

Another important difference is the cultural learning infused into the school program as students in CSAP have the opportunity to “live cultural experiences from the Acadian and Francophone culture through in-class activities and extracurricular activities.”

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Photo courtesy of CSAP

Registration

February is registration month for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, for both their English and French Immersion programs. Parents should contact the school in their district to find out the procedure to register their child before the end of the month.

In CSAP parents can register any time during the school year. They have three ways to do this. They can visit the school nearest them during open hours, visit the regional office, or visit their website, print out the forms and mail or drop off the documentation to their nearest school.

Stéphanie also mentions that they will be hosting information sessions for parents on May 22 at 6:30 p.m. at their nearest CSAP school. Parents can register their child for school at these events as well.

For more information about CSAP, including registration paperwork and a listing of CSAP schools in HRM and across the province, click here.

For HRCE French Immersion, and all other programs, registration information, click here.

Did you or your child attend CSAP or French Immersion?