British Columbia

French immersion enrolment in B.C. reaches record high numbers: report

According to the report by Canadian Parents for French, more students are participating in British Columbia than ever before — despite decreases in enrolment in Vancouver and Surrey.

Numbers have been increasing for 21 consecutive years, report says, despite dips in Vancouver and Surrey

A new report by Canadian Parents for French says more B.C. students participated in French immersion last year than ever before. (Canadian Parents for French)

More students in British Columbia are participating in French immersion than ever before, according to a new report.

During the 2018-2019 school year, the report by Canadian Parents for French found 53,995 students were enrolled in the program, marking a provincial record. 

The number has continued to rise over the past 21 years, the report says. 

"In urban areas and in rural areas we're seeing strong and continued demand for French immersion programs from parents," said Glyn Lewis with Canadian Parents for French, a volunteer advocacy group. 

Not every city in B.C. saw a rise in numbers, the report found, with Vancouver and Surrey bucking the overall trend.

The Vancouver school district (SD 39) saw a decrease in French immersion enrolment in the 2018-2019 school year, to 5,161 students. (Canadian Parents for French )

The decrease in enrolment in those cities is not due to a lack of interest, but rather a lack of availability, Lewis said. 

"Vancouver, Surrey and some other school districts simply don't have enough space and they have not been able to respond to that demand to open up new classrooms," Lewis said.

Earlier this year the Vancouver School Board voted in favour of phasing out the French immersion program at Henry Hudson Elementary School in Kitsilano to deal with overcapacity.

The French immersion program has been in place in B.C. for 50 years.