With a growing demand for French language education, Toronto’s newest French elementary school has opened just north of the Christie Pits community.
Ecole du Sacre-Coeur, which is currently home to about 150 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 6, opened its doors Sept. 4 in time for the new school year, taking over for the much smaller Ecole du Sacre-Coeur in the Bloor and Sherbourne streets area.
The Catholic elementary school’s move was a matter of necessity said trustee Claude-Reno D’Aigle.
“The school at Sherbourne and Bloor was small – very small,” he said. “We were getting more and more students and had to find a bigger school.”
The new school moves into the former Essex Public School on Essex Street. As a regional school, it will serve students throughout southern Toronto, with most of the school’s populace being bused in from outside the immediate area.
“I would say about 90 per cent of our students are bused in,” said school superintendent Nicole Bradley.
Ecole du Sacre-Coeur’s opening coincides with the opening of Ecole secondaire Saint-Frere-Andre at 330 Lansdowne St.
While there is definite demand for French education in the Annex area, the French language schools have strict enrolment guidelines.
“To be automatically admitted, (students) have to be Canadian and at least one of their parents have to be able to speak French or have to have attended French school in Canada,” Bradley said.
Some students could be admitted through an admissions committee if their parents show they have a strong knowledge of French.
The rules make sense, given instruction at the school takes place completely in French.
“Everything is taught in French – we don’t speak another language in our classes,” D’Aigle said.
Eventually, Ecole du Sacre-Coeur will be home to upwards of 350 students.
“We’re one of the lucky (school) boards that are growing in Ontario,” Bradley said.
In addition to classes, the school offers daycare for toddlers and pre-school children from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We now have toddlers and we never had toddlers before,” said the school’s daycare director Julie Meta. “We have a permit for 76 (children) and we have about 55 now so there is still some space.”
The two-storey school is also completely wheelchair accessible.
For more information on the school, including details on registering a student, visit www.csdccs.edu.on.ca