Update: Surrey French immersion class cancelled before it starts

Only a dozen parents signed up for the usually sought-after language program.

A new early entry French immersion program planned for Cougar Creek Elementary in Surrey has been cancelled due to low enrolment.

A new French immersion (FI) program that was to start at Surrey’s Cougar Creek Elementary next week has been cancelled before it could begin.

Surrey School District officials announced last week that the program was in peril due to low enrolment – just eight kids were signed up to start the kindergarten language program. Early this week, that number had risen to 12.

But that’s where enrolment stalled, forcing the district to halt the program as it fell far short of the 22 students preferable for a full class. Even with 18 or 20, the class may have proceeded, said Surrey Board of Education chair Shawn Wilson, who was shocked at the low interest in the new FI location.

“I would’ve expected there would be a full take-up of that program,” he said. “To ask the questions and go to the public… and include it in a facilities plan and open it and not have anyone commit to it was a disappointment.”

In June, after years of parents lobbying for better access to FI, the school district found available space at the Newton area elementary school and gave the go-ahead to open a new program there. Cougar Creek would have been the seventh elementary school in Surrey to host an early French program.

Heather Bartlett, Acting Executive Director the Canadian Parents for French’s B.C. & Yukon branch, says the Surrey situation doesn’t indicate a lack of interest in FI, but the fact access to programs remains an issue.

“While we recognize that opening a new program was a step in the right direction, it is unfortunate that the first program expansion in over 20 years was placed at the city’s border (with Delta) and not more centralized within the district where there is high demand.”

Every year, dozens of children are put on waitings lists as the demand far outweighs the number of student spaces available for FI in Surrey schools. From spring to mid-August, parents of the 229 families on the waiting list were contacted and offered a spot at Cougar Creek.

Most, said the district, indicated they didn’t want to drive to the school.

Generally, the waiting lists are significantly longer at the South Surrey schools that offer French immersion. But Wilson said the program has to be offered in all areas of the city.

“We have to establish these things in a fair and equitable way,” he said.

“We’re responsible for responding to the public’s demands and then we do and no one responds.”

 

– with files from Kevin Diakiw

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sources volunteers face off at the organization’s ‘Enchanted’ gala – one as a fairy and the other as her magic-mirror reflection – held in 2019. (Tiffany Kwong photo)
‘Rising infections’ prompts move to virtual Sources gala

Silent auction, raffle opens to public at 9 a.m. Oct. 30

This year’s annual Lighted Boat Parade has been cancelled. (File photo)
White Rock’s annual Lighted Boat Parade cancelled

COVID-19 cited as main reason for cancellation of popular winter tradition

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

A surveillance camera in a photo posted to the Project Iris page on surrey.rcmp-grc.gc.ca.
Quality surveillance video helps catch crooks, Surrey Mounties say

Charges laid in connection to break-and-enter in Guildford area

Signage outside of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in South Surrey advises of the drive-thru schedule. (Contributed photo)
Cold-weather clothing donations sought at South Surrey drive-thru effort

Weekly collection continues in Mount Olive Lutheran Church parking lot

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Most Read