Changes to the French immersion system criticized even before they were voted on

The Waterloo Region District School Board initiated the French Immersion Review in 2017, when a committee ad hoc was created to look at ways to improve the program and make it more equitable.

Currently, French Immersion is offered in some dual track schools where some classes are French Immersion and others with students taking classes in English.

Three recommendations were presented to school trustees last week: endorse the vision, goals and guiding principles that French Immersion is open to all; develop a action plan to align the program with the vision, goals and guiding principles; start French immersion in grade two, rather than grade one.

I don’t think the three recommendations […] of the report go far enough to address my concerns and what I have heard from other parents in the communitysaid committee member Patricia Shaw.

Ms. Shaw criticizes in particular the lack of consultation with the parents concerned.

We hope administrators will understand that parents deserve the opportunity to speak about the outcome of this committee’s work – before voting to make a change in the name of access and equity.added Ms. Shaw.

One year postponement

The recommendation to defer French immersion for a year would allow parents – especially those whose first language is not English and who may not realize the full benefits of the French immersion program – to learn about this system before making their choice, says Della Lataille-Herdsman, responsible for student success and well-being at the Waterloo Region District School Board.

At the same time, the teaching of French would increase from 8 to 16% of the curriculum for all first-year students.

If this change is approved, it will come into effect in the fall of 2023.


At a June 20 board meeting, school trustee Kathi Smith said many committee members – including students, parents, teachers, board staff, school trustees and public – were not in favor of the final recommendations.

Ms. Smith, who has been part of this French immersion committee since its inception in 2017, called on the Board to hold a special meeting to consult more people on the issue.

I’m just concerned about the number of people who are not in favor of this. »

A quote from Kathi Smith, school counselor

Among them, Mandi Bond, a student mother who nevertheless sat on the committee for five years. However, she feels that he has not really succeeded in resolving the issue of equitable access to the program.

I am not trying to change the program to make it better for my children. I am here so that no family has to go through what we went through and to imagine a system that meets the vision that every child has access to the programwhile his was forced to leave the immersion program because of learning difficulties.

The question of transport should be taken into account in the redesign of the immersion system, some believe.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Julien Lecacheur

Other reviews point to accessibility to transportation. Ideally, all students interested in French immersion would be bussed to a school, suggests Shaw.

Having a parent available to drive to and from school is probably not an option for many peopleshe remarks.

Trustees and Board staff agreed at a recent meeting that there is still work to be done to make French immersion more equitable.

Three delegations are registered to raise this issue at Monday evening’s meeting, including Ms Shaw and Ms Bond.

We should have a roadmap for fairness […] Do we want every child to have access to French immersion? And if we want, in what year? »

A quote from Patricia Shaw, Immersion System Review Committee Member

We only made a plan to make a plan. So that’s where my frustration liesshe summarizes.

Based on information from Kate Bueckert, CBC

Leave a Comment