Secondary FAQ

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Questions and Answers

The following frequently asked questions (FAQs) represent some of the most common enquiries we receive.

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Am I eligible to enroll for a secondary course (grades 10 - 12)?

Am I eligible to enroll for a secondary course (grades 10 - 12)?
A person is eligible to enroll in secondary distance education courses provided the person:

  1. has completed grade 9 or, if still in grade 9, has permission of SIDES' principal to take a course;
  2. is a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant and is normally a BC resident, even if enrolled in another school;
  3. is an adult wishing to complete high school graduation or upgrade courses;
  4. meets academic prerequisites where applicable.

Who is a typical SIDES student?

Who is a typical SIDES student?
Students enroll at SIDES for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. a preference by parents to teach their child at home;
  2. families travelling abroad for an extended period of time;
  3. the regular neighbourhood school's inability to fulfill the child's learning or social needs;
  4. isolation from access to a school (e.g. lighthouse families);
  5. medical or health needs;
  6. preference for a different learning medium.

Students may also choose to enroll at SIDES for part of their high school education because:

  1. their in-school timetable does not allow them access to a course;
  2. their neighbourhood school does not offer a course they wish to take;
  3. they are looking for a different way of learning a particular subject;
  4. they are interested in trying an online course.

Which program is right for me?

Which program is right for me?
SIDES teachers work in close consultation with parents and students to ensure that each learner's needs are met. When necessary, our teachers will contact a student's previous school to learn as much as possible before considering the development of customized course materials.

How do I enroll?

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How do I enroll?
In Person
Students may come into SIDES to enroll in their course(s). Students will be given access to a computer for registration and will then see a counsellor to review their application for courses. During the interview, the counsellor will explain the process for finalizing registration.

Online
Students may also complete our Online Application Form. Once the form is completed, students may be required to meet in person or over the phone with a SIDES counsellor to review their course selections. Students will then be given a first assignment which must be submitted before registration can be completed.

Where do I obtain textbooks and materials?

Where do I obtain textbooks?
Once registration is complete and the deposit has been paid, students may either pick up their materials at SIDES or have them shipped to their home.

How long do I have to complete a course?

How long do I have to complete a course?
Full time students are encouraged to complete their planned courses within the academic school year.
Course registration is in effect for one year from the date of enrolment. Extensions beyond one year must be discussed with and approved by a SIDES administrator and/or counsellor.

Can I do partial online courses?

Can I do partial online courses?
Yes. Students who have started a course in their neighbourhood school but have not successfully completed the course must do a minimum of 50% of the online course to earn a grade. The units or chapters required will be determined by the SIDES teacher on the basis of information provided by the student and/or his neighbourhood school teacher. For more information, please speak to a SIDES counsellor or administrator.

Are there assignment deadlines with online courses?

Are there assignment deadlines with online courses?
SIDES courses are designed to be done on the student's schedule. However, if the student has a personal deadline in mind, she or he is encouraged to keep up with regular submissions of assignments. Each online course is equipped with a course scheduler which will help students create timelines for course completion.

Is teacher support offered with online courses?

Is teacher support offered with online courses?
Online courses are unique in that they come with teacher support; this is a critical piece, as the students have the potential to establish a relationship with a teacher. Online students may have direct contact (phone calls, face-to-face appointments, v-class meetings) with their teachers, or they may contact teachers via email or on the course discussion boards. Online students also have the same support provided to all SIDES students (i.e., access to the Tutoring Centre and drop-in study/tutoring sessions). It should also be noted that students in online courses have the potential to be part of a learning community through which they may connect with online classmates.

What is the cost?

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What is the cost?
For an outline of costs for national and international students, click here.

Assignments

How do I submit completed papers and how are they returned to me?

How do I submit completed papers and how are they returned to me?
Completed papers are accepted by mail, fax, via SIDES Online, or at our school website. Marked papers are returned via mail or SIDES Online. The grade and comments will appear on the returned assignments. Students enrolled in online courses will also be able to check their marks in the course gradebook.

Testing

Where do I write the tests?

Where do I write the tests?
Students enrolled in Grade 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 courses at SIDES and who live in the Greater Victoria area are expected to write their course tests and exams at SIDES. Those who do not live in the Greater Victoria area must write their tests under supervision at a school or institution (ex., school, college, university, or library). Family members, family friends and tutors hired to work directly with the student to be supervised are not eligible to serve as test supervisors.

Where do I write provincial exams?

Where do I write provincial exams?
Grade 10, 11 and 12 provincial exams are written on a Ministry-set schedule. Students will be informed as to the exam locations, based on the number of students writing. The grade 10 Graduation Program exams may be held in various centres, and students may ask in advance to go to a school in their neighbourhood as well. Please note that writing an exam in a neighbourhood school must be arranged in advance to ensure the test is delivered for the date and time.

How successful have SIDES students been on provincial achievement exams?

How successful have SIDES students been on provincial achievement exams?
Students who have successfully completed the course material achieve the benchmarks for provincial achievement tests. A number of SIDES students have achieved in the top 5% of the students in the province.

Must I make an appointment to write a test of any kind?

Must I make an appointment to write a test of any kind?
No, tests may be written on a drop-in basis. However, you must allow yourself enough time; most tests are two to three hours long. Also, please ensure that you have received and reviewed all of your marked assignments prior to coming in to write the test.

Support

Will anyone help me if I find the course difficult?

Will anyone help me if I find the course difficult?

  1. Secondary school counsellors, advisors, teachers, and onsite tutors are available to advise students and provide assistance in various subjects. Please contact us for further information. The SIDES email directory (found under the Staff section of this web site) and SIDES Online provide contact information for individual teachers and staff members.
  2. SIDES onsite secondary tutoring is available on a limited basis for students who are enrolled in a course at SIDES. Check the schedule found under tutoring in this section of the website, or contact us for times. Full-time students who are taking online courses should contact their subject teacher(s) for assistance. If a student is experiencing difficulty with SIDES courses, oftentimes the parent or guardian must look to find in-home support from family, friends, or a tutor that they arrange for independent of SIDES.
  3. Some online courses provide supplementary resources within the course website.

Adult Graduation Program

Can I earn a Dogwood Diploma on an adult program?

Can I earn a Dogwood Diploma on an adult program?
Yes, graduation on the adult secondary program is possible.

Questions from Parents

Are SIDES programs approved by the Ministry of Education?

Are SIDES programs approved by the Ministry of Education?
Yes; SIDES is a public school. Programs at all grade levels meet the learning outcomes set by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

How much is a reasonable amount of time for a student to work on his or her school work when he or she is at home?

How much is a reasonable amount of time for a student to work on his or her school work when he or she is at home?
Sitting at a computer for long hours is not good for anyone's health. Parents or guardians and students need to have a plan in place where they can designate computer and non-computer time and still get the work done. Generally, secondary courses are designed to take 100 - 120 hours to complete; families should organize work plans based on the intended completion date and their children's school and extra-curricular schedules.

What if my child needs help?

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What if my child needs help?
Students need to take initiative to contact their teacher/facilitator if assistance is needed. They may also book appointments with SIDES tutors. Contact us for times.

Will my child receive a report card?

Will my child receive a report card?
Yes, SIDES teachers provide a formal report card four times each year. Your child's progress will be evaluated according to the standards set by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

My daughter has been having problems with the other kids in her school and she wants to be at SIDES, but she thinks that she will miss her friends too much. What do you suggest we do?

My daughter has been having problems with the other kids in her school and she wants to be at SIDES, but she thinks that she will miss her friends too much. What do you suggest we do?
Socialization is very important to children and most do not want to be isolated from their friends. Parents or guardians can ensure that their children are involved in positive social and recreational activities outside of the home. Students in the Victoria region are encouraged to attend SIDES' school-sponsored activities and school-community outings.

My daughter is on a swim team that competes nationally and internationally. If she registers in SIDES Online, does she have to 'log on' at the same time as rest of the class?

My daughter is on a swim team that competes nationally and internationally. If she registers in SIDES Online, does she have to 'log on' at the same time as rest of the class?
Often, teachers arrange virtual online sessions for teaching and learning opportunities that augment the curriculum offerings. We do not require students to log in and do their work at the same time. However, on occasion, it may be necessary for teacher/facilitators to direct students to access and complete planned tests. Teacher/facilitators are prepared to make adjustments for students who are unable to complete schoolwork due to prior commitments.

My son is very good in Mathematics and Science but is behind in Language Arts and Social studies. What can SIDES do to meet his needs?

My son is very good in Mathematics and Science but is behind in Language Arts and Social studies. What can SIDES do to meet his needs?
Unlike the traditional program, it is easy to accommodate students' varying needs at SIDES. For example, a student may work in Mathematics at the grade 11 level and Language Arts and Social Studies at the grade 10 level. SIDES can accommodate an educational program in which students are working at multiple grade levels.

My son really isn't interested in completing high school and going to university or college; what is available for students like him who don't need the high level academic courses?

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My son really isn't interested in completing high school and going to university or college; what is available for students like him who don't need the high level academic courses?
The academic route is not for everyone, but there are a variety of work-experience and dual credit opportunities for SIDES students. Further information is available through our website or by contacting one of our counsellors. For information about industrial training programs, please check out the following website: www.itabc.ca.

Our family has a lifestyle where we travel to other countries for extended periods of time. Can we take our children out of school and leave when we want to take advantage of reduced prices on flights and accommodation?

Our family has a lifestyle where we travel to other countries for extended periods of time. Can we take our children out of school and leave when we want to take advantage of reduced prices on flights and accommodation?
SIDES students and their parents can set their own pace for studies. They are required to spend the same number of days completing school work as students in the regular program, but that doesn't preclude students from working or traveling during "non-traditional" holiday times. We have had many students who have traveled to different countries during the school term. Parents or guardians need to communicate their plans with their child's teacher or advisor.

My son would like to study band. Can students take these courses through SIDES or can he take these courses at another school?

My son would like to study band. Can students take these courses through SIDES or can he take these courses at another school?
In many instances we can make partnership arrangements with neighbourhood schools in the district to deliver courses that we do not offer. Parents or guardians must make the initial inquiry with a neighbourhood school, ensuring there is space and that the schedule is conducive to the student's needs. If the school will entertain a partnership, and this is most often the case, then SIDES will finalize the arrangements for the shared arrangement.

How will SIDES accommodate my child if he or she is not yet working at grade level, or if he or she is working beyond the age-appropriate expectations?

How will SIDES accommodate my child if he or she is not yet working at grade level, or if he or she is working beyond the age-appropriate expectations?
It is district policy to register students in their age-appropriate grade. SIDES teachers work with parents and students to create a learning plan that best suits the need of the individual child. This may involve learning materials at a variety of levels, including special software.