The Vancouver School Board (VSB) has a unique school system called Mini School. It is a school system that exists independently in the Vancouver Public School Board system. Before introducing the mini schools, let us look at how students can transition from elementary to secondary school in VSB. According to the usual method of the school board, junior high school students are directly allocated according to the affiliated schools. The elementary schools are for K- grade 7 students, while the secondary schools are for grades 8-12. After students finish the 7th grade of elementary school, they will automatically enter the 8th grade of the corresponding middle school. Although international students have more freedom than local students in choosing schools, most cases are counterparts.
The Mini School program is a unique selection system for outstanding and talented students. Students can choose other high schools that do not correspond to their elementary school. Although Mini School is somewhat similar to domestic experimental classes, its connotation is completely different from domestic experimental classes. This program offers a variety of courses, from an Olympiad class to a project-based class. These Mini Schools have their characteristics and educational approaches. Therefore, when these schools screen students’ applications, they look for students with magnificent academic performance and achievements in their fields.
The Vancouver School Board will open 18 Mini Schools in September 2023 in 16 public secondary schools. These Mini Schools have different featured programs that can cultivate and develop students’ comprehensive abilities.
Schools and their unique programs
Britannia Community Secondary
Britannia Hockey Academy – Hockey Features
- Graduated students receive a Canadian ice hockey certificate (Hockey Canada Skills Academy -HCSA)
Britannia Venture Program – Problem Solving and Leadership Characteristics
- From grade 8 to 10, students are trained in four aspects: Universal Values, Global Understanding, Personal Excellence, and Community Service.
- Grades 11-12 students will enter the IB curriculum.
David Thompson Secondary
David Thompson Odyssey – Inspiring Creativity Featured
- Students can complete the general courses in their first three years in high school and focus more on their AP courses in the last two years
Eric Hamber Secondary
Hamber Challenge Studio Program – Program Features
- Stimulates students’ creative and critical thinking through projects. Courses covered include English, Social Studies, Technological Innovation and Design, and Critical Thinking/Fine Arts.
Gladstone Mini – Creativity and Leadership
- Students can complete grades 8-10 for credit in 2 years
- Emphasizes high academic achievement, creative and original thinking, independence and initiative, responsibility and leadership
- To develop students’ self-motivation, teamwork, and the ability to value thinking itself
John Oliver Secondary
John Oliver Secondary – Technology Enhancement and Outdoor Education Feature
- Make the most of a technology-enhanced learning environment, learning through extended field studies related to core subjects, leadership and outdoor education.
- Enriches core subjects’ mathematical and logical thinking abilities
Killarney Computer Science Mini School – Specialties in Computer Science
Students will experience a rich curriculum of mathematics, science and information technology in middle school (grades 8-10) and then be able to specialize in specialized areas in grades 10-12. Areas of expertise include:
- Programming (Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence)
- System Administrator
- Network Administrator
- Cyber Security
King George Secondary
King George Mini – Creative Features
- This course is for motivated and creative students entering the 8th grade. Programs provide academic and technical reinforcement in core subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
Lord Byng Secondary
Byng Arts – Artistic Features
- Designed for students who wish to devote their energy and passion to the fine arts, work in a community of like-minded students, and maintain academic excellence
- In the upper grades, students can choose a major for training
- Many course teachers are professional and experienced
- Possible pathways: Visual Arts, Drama, Orchestra, and Choir
Magee Sports – Sports Features
- Provides educational programs for students competing in high-level athletics at provincial, national or international competitions and for students who excel in the arts. While going to school, various training and competitions occur.
Point Grey Secondary
Point Gray Mini – Community, Leadership and Service
- The curriculum includes programs and activities across grades, culture, outreach, and outdoor education.
Prince of Wales Secondary
Prince of Wales Mini-Leadership Features
- The course was established in 1973. Suitable for able and motivated students. To develop academically competent, self-motivated, leadership-oriented and enthusiastic students. Students are encouraged to develop as well-rounded individuals – finding the right balance between academic, artistic and social pursuits.
Sir Charles Tupper Secondary
Tupper Mini – Critical Thinking
- The curriculum includes English, Social, Maths, Science and possibly French. Suitable for academically advanced and motivated students
- The Mini School also features a mini-committee (2 students per grade) with opportunities for networking, team building and problem-solving and implementing plans under the supervision of the school coordinator. During the five years in grades 8-12, there will be many enriching activities such as field trips, debates, assemblies, event planning, live performances and annual mentoring meetings.
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Ideal Mini – Experimental Class
- IDEAL MINI is run by Churchill Secondary School and offers a complete 8-12 program in a unique self-contained campus. We provide a safe environment for academically driven and creative students who will thrive in a smaller environment. Ideal fosters a positive student community engagement, social justice, and academic excellence tradition.
Templeton Mini – Critical Thinking Feature
- Guide them to promote critical thinking through problem-solving, project-based learning, and cross-curricular activities. Students graduate as engaged, thoughtful and productive members of society through participation in community service and outdoor education.
Vancouver Technical Secondary
Van Tech Flex Humanities – Humanities
- Students will self-study for humanities subjects such as Philosophy, Literature, History, Political Science, Art History, Film Studies, etc., with critical thinking in a relatively unstructured learning environment.
Van Tech Summit Program – Science and Leadership
- The school’s curriculum strengthens science and mathematics, particularly emphasizing social justice, community engagement and leadership.
Windermere Community Secondary
Windermere Leadership – Leadership
- Students are part of a community support network that prioritizes social responsibility, environmental stewardship and community engagement. Improve your ability to solve various problems by participating in various community activities.
The entrance examination for Mini Schools takes place in the 7th grade. First, there is a unified written examination by VSB. The exam is composed of cognition, writing and mathematics. Each school then organizes its interviews. The interview is very personalized and depends entirely on the overall quality of the student and the child’s potential in the chosen major.
Although it is challenging to enroll in Mini School, there are many benefits when students graduate. Universities will consider the specialties of Mini School graduates when admitting students, and what students have learned in Mini School will become one of the helpers to get into the university of their choice. It is said that entering Mini School is not only about going to university but also freely choosing the university and major students will love to attend and even aim at getting a high scholarship.