Choosing a special school

For your child’s primary school, did you think about an alternative school, a special vocation school or an international school? If so, we have some useful information for you.

Alternative schools

According to the Quebec Network of public alternative schools, there are 31 alternative schools in Quebec (primary and secondary schools). In an alternative school, a teaching team accompanies the child in a path adapted to his own needs and interests. The school relies on coeducation a lot, meaning that parents and teachers are partners with the same goal: the child’s education. "The alternative school goes beyond respecting individual differences; it exploits them! Instead of forcing students to conform to a predetermined structure, the school is the one adjusting to students’ needs as much as possible", reads their website.

Special vocation schools

We also find in the public school system schools with a particular vocation (music, sports, dance, etc.). There are also international schools that focus on languages by offering, for example, two half-years of English immersion during primary school.

Who can attend these schools? Usually, you must first live on the school’s educational territory. Some exceptions can sometimes be granted, but you have to check with the institution. Also, since these schools are often in high demand, there are admission tests for students. It is better to get information about the admission procedures at least two years in advance to avoid missing the admissions tests by a few weeks and missing out on a great opportunity.

Private or public?

Some of these schools are private and others are public, so you have to look around to find out what types of schools are available in your area. Some public schools may even require a contribution in the form of donations to the school’s foundation to support their particular program. Other schools rely more on the parents’ involvement in the educational process.


Two mothers who each have a child attending these types of schools explain what motivated their choices. Mélanye, whose daughter Justine, 5 years old, will start kindergarten at the Touterelle alternative school in Brossard, and Chantal, whose son Ludovic, 7, is now starting his second year at the Jacques-Hétu School of Music.

1. What made you believe that your child would better evolve in this type of scool then in a regular classroom?

Mélanye : Justine has always undertaken little projects and research by herself, according to her interests. She finds solutions, develops strategies and asks for help to achieve her goals when needed. It's in her nature and I wanted her to be able to continue on her journey in the scool world in the same way.

Chantale : In fact, nothing suggested that he would evolve better in a special vocation school. We just made our decision based on HIS interests and to HIS demand. Because after seeing a Christmas show presented at his kindergarten, he asked us if he could also attend a music school.

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