FAQs*: General

FAQs = Frequently Asked Questions
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How big is the Burnaby School District?

We have 41 elementary schools (K to grade 7) and 8 secondary schools (grades 8 to 12), with a total of approximately 24,000 students.

What percentage of students in the Burnaby School District are international students? Where do they come from?

Overall about 5% of our student population are international students.  The percentage is smaller in our elementary program than in our secondary program.  Each school varies as the percentage of international students.  Our international students come from over 34 different countries.

Can international students in the Burnaby School District choose any Burnaby school?

On our application form, students can choose up to 3 different schools.  We try very hard to give the student one of his/her 3 choices.  Placement is at the discretion of the International Education Office and is based on numbers and space availability.

What is the difference between a semester school and a linear school?

Three secondary schools use the semester system and five secondary schools use the linear system.

A semester school (Alpha, Burnaby Central, Burnaby Mountain and Byrne Creek Secondary School) has 2 semesters:

  • September to January and February to June, 4 subjects per semester.

A linear school (Burnaby North, Burnaby South, Cariboo Hill and Moscrop Secondary School) has:

  • 8 subjects from September to June.

Can students enrol in a linear school starting in February?

Yes, but no credit for courses can normally be given from February to June.

How many terms/semesters are there in a year?

In a semester school there are 2 semesters; in a linear school, there are 3 terms.

Can students change their school if don’t like where they are placed? What is the process? When can the change be made?

Due to space restrictions, students usually cannot change their school during the school year. However, they can apply in early February to change schools for the following school year.  A Change of School Request form must be submitted to the International Education (IE) Office.

How long can international students study for in the Burnaby School District?

Students can stay up until they graduate or until they turn 19, whichever comes first.

Can international students obtain a BC Graduation Diploma in the Burnaby School District?

Yes, if they pass the required courses as laid out by the BC Ministry of Education.

Will I receive credit from the school work I have done in my home country?

We will try to give as much credit as allowed under the BC Ministry of Education regulations for similar work done in the home country. However, some courses are required to have been delivered by a BC teacher in a BC school.

Can an international student register in the Burnaby School District if he/she is known to have or is suspected of having special learning needs and/or a physical disability?

No, we are unable to accept such students.

Does a student need to speak fluent English?

No. All Burnaby elementary and secondary school have excellent English for Language Learning (ELL) courses, from the beginner’s level and up.

Do students need to have an IELTS or TOEFL score?

No. Students will do an English assessment during orientation week.

If I have an IELTS or TEOFL score do I still need to do the English Assessment test at orientation?

Yes. Only students who have a valid BC public school English course passing mark are exempt from the English assessment at orientation.

Is there an admissions test for English and/or other subjects?

No.  English is assessed during orientation week.  Academic work is assessed during the application process based on the previous 2 years of school.

What is the minimum grade average to be admitted to the Burnaby School District?

We are looking for the equivalent of a B- average on academic subjects over the past 2 years of school work.

What is the minimum age a student can apply to the Burnaby School District?

Five years old (Kindergarten)

Is there an age limit for students to apply to the Burnaby School District?

Students must be under 18 years of age up until December 31 of the year of the school year they are applying for.

Is there an age limit for student to remain in the Burnaby School District program?

Students cannot stay in the high school program after the end of the school year in which they turn 19. Burnaby has an Adult Education Program so older students can complete their graduation program there in the following school year.

What are the fees?

Please visit www.studyinburnaby.ca/resources/fees/ fore more information on school fees.

Are there scholarships for international students?

No, not for the K-12 program.

If I am a Canadian citizen do I have to pay fees?

If the natural parent(s) is/are not “ordinarily resident” in Burnaby then yes, you will have to pay fees.

Is an international student required to join the medical plan or can he/she come with his/her own medical insurance plan?

It is mandatory all international students be on the medical insurance plans arranged by the IE Program.

Does my child need to have vaccinations?

The BC Ministry of Health is now requiring vaccination reports from all BC school children.

The vaccination record is a mandatory form on our application form.  If your child has not had any vaccinations, please prepare a letter from the natural parent, in English, stating why your child has never received any vaccinations, and upload this on the application in the medical section under Vaccinations.

Currently it is not a requirement for students to be vaccinated.  This is a reporting requirement only so that schools know which students are vulnerable should there be a disease break out.  However, due to the several outbreaks of the measles (Rubella) virus in Canada this past year, we strongly recommend students have this vaccine before arriving in Canada.

Can an international students work while studying in the Burnaby School District?

International students in Canada in the K-12 sector cannot work while in Canada.

What school facilities do Burnaby School District schools offer at schools?

All secondary schools have Science labs for physics, chemistry and biology, computer labs, a library, 2 gymnasiums, a weight training room, a dance studio, a drama theatre, music rooms, art rooms, a cafeteria, and much more. Elementary schools have a gymnasium, a library, a music room, computers, and more.

How do international students get to and from school?

Most elementary students walk to school accompanied by the parent(s) or an older sibling. Some parents may choose to drive their child(ren) to school. Secondary school students usually take public transit (bus and/or Skytrain- Metro). Burnaby School District does not provide a school bus service as we are in a large urban area with a good public transit system.

Can international students drive while attending the Burnaby School District program?


Should an international student bring his/her own computer?

It’s useful to have one at home for homework, communicating with family and friends, etc., but students do not need to take a computer to school. Schools provide sufficient computer access for students both in and out of class.

How can a parent of a Burnaby School District student access an interpreter?

Parents and custodians can request the help of an interpreter for school meetings through the school office, the International Education Office, or, at secondary schools, the school International Student Assistant (ISA).

Why study in Burnaby?

With superior academic programs and modern facilities, all located within a city of vibrant green spaces, modern shopping malls, safe residential neighbourhoods, and state of the art public transit, choosing an education in Burnaby is the right choice.


Burnaby School District has one of the largest Advanced Placement (AP) programs in Canada.


Burnaby is located in the centre of Metro Vancouver. Its world-class SkyTrain public transit provides access to downtown Vancouver in just 30 minutes.


Burnaby schools feature modern facilities and state of the art technology.

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