K–12 Education in BC

What Every Parent Needs to Know

“Why doesn’t somebody write a book explaining this stuff?” It was just an off-the-cuff comment from a frustrated parent, but Surrey principal Faizel Rawji thought it was a very good idea. So he and his colleagues David Starr, a Burnaby principal, and David Mushens, a Burnaby vice-principal, set out to provide parents with the information they were looking for.

Mushens, Rawji and Starr wrote Insider’s Guide to K-12 Education in BC to help parents understand the structures, decisions and issues about education that they’re likely to encounter and to equip them with the information they need to make the right choices and advocate for their children.

Lower Mainland School Districts Lower Mainland School Districts

Together, the authors have more than fifty years of teaching and administrative experience. They’ve spoken with many parents, supported them through their children’s school experience, and witnessed first-hand the difficulty parents have in accessing information.

“There’s a misconception out there that, just because most people attended school, they know how the school system works,” says Starr. “In fact, the education system, both public and independent, is full of its own jargon, rules and policies that the average person—and many educators—have no idea about. We get a lot of questions from a lot of people about how things work. This book is a starting point to answer those questions.”

What are the top tips Mushens, Rawji and Starr would give parents?

David Mushens

David Mushens “Learn the jargon and educate yourself about how things are done at each level of school. For example, many people don’t realize that students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 don’t get letter grades. The primary program, the intermediate program, Daily Physical Activity, graduation requirements—there is so much to know. And knowledge is power—give yourself as much as possible.”

David Mushens is a vice-principal at École Cariboo Hill Secondary School in School District No. 41 (Burnaby).

Faizel Rawji

Faizel Rawji“Being an educated and informed advocate is very important. Ask questions. Seek to understand and find the balance between supporting your child and realizing that, although your son or daughter is the most important thing in the world to you, school staff have to balance multiple needs and competing interests. You may not get what you want all the time, but if you understand how things work—and why—it will go a long way to ensuring that your child and you will have the best possible experience.”

Faizel Rawji is the principal at Sunnyside Elementary School in School District No. 36 (Surrey).

David Starr

David Starr “Get involved with the school. Get to know your child’s teacher, the principal, the playground supervisor and all the other adults who work with your child. Join the Parent Advisory Council or volunteer if you can. Regardless of the time you have to give, if you have built good relationships with school staff, they will pay dividends when problems occur.”

David Starr is the principal of Byrne Creek Community School in School District No. 41 (Burnaby).


Example: Is French Immersion right for my child?In 2014/5, 8% of BC students were enrolled in a French Immersion program in BC schools, making it the most popular program of choice. So it’s not surprising that this is a common question asked by parents. But did you know there are different French Immersion options available for your child?

Two streams of French Immersion are offered. In both streams, students are taught the same BC curriculum as students in non-French Immersion schools.


About the book

Insider's Guide to K-12 Education in BC Insider’s Guide to K–12 Education in BC is available now from Pacific Educational Press. Visit the book page for more information and to order.