Education in Canada: Elementary and secondary school


In Canada, the law requires that children go to school. Depending on the province or territory where they live, they can start elementary school as young as 4 years old and finish high school at 18 years old.

School in Canada:

Adult secondary education

Adults who have not completed primary or secondary education can attend adult education programs. Some of these programs offer instruction in reading and writing, and others lead to a high school diploma.

Contact your Department of Education .

  • begins in kindergarten and continues from grades to 12 ;
  • usually begins at the end of August and ends around the end of June;
  • runs Monday through Friday (excluding holidays);
  • awards a high school diploma to students who successfully complete high school;
  • may be English or French oriented, even in areas where the other language is more common.

If you and your family are arriving in Canada during the school year, please contact your local school board to find a school for your children.

As a parent or guardian, it is up to you to choose a type of school. Depending on where you live, you will have the following choices:

  • free public school;
  • private school;
  • home education;
  • French or English school.

Contact your Ministry of Education for more information on schooling opportunities.

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School boards

School boards manage all the schools in a certain area. They may also be called:

  • school districts;
  • school divisions;
  • district education councils.

School boards are run by elected representatives called “school trustees”. They are responsible for the following:

  • maintenance of school buildings;
  • personnel management;
  • general administration;
  • student registration.

School boards hold regular meetings so that the public can express their views on how schools in their area are run.

Participate in your child’s education

Parents are encouraged to participate in their child’s education by getting involved with the school and the school board.

To participate:

  • volunteering at her child’s school;
  • go to parent-teacher nights organized by the school;
  • become a member of the school committee.

Participating is a great opportunity to do the following:

  • to meet new people;
  • being part of the school community;
  • express your opinions about what is taught at your child’s school.

Ask the school about ways to participate.

Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education

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