Education in Canada

School System & Registration

It is mandatory in Canada for every child between the ages of five to sixteen to attend school. If your child is in this age group, enroll him/her in school as soon as possible after arriving in Canada. High school is optional and your child can attend high school till the age of 19. Those who dropped out of school may still get the diploma if they go to Adult and Continuing Education Centres or Adult Learning Centres and register for the High School Completion Program. New immigrants who received school diploma in their countries but went to school for less than 12 years, have a choice of either going back to school or finishing grade 12 in Adult Learning Centres.

Types of schools. There are public schools, including French immersion schools, and private schools and some parents home school their children. Both public and private schools follow a curriculum required by the Ministry of Education and all secondary schools have a university entrance program.

There is no tuition fee up to secondary education. Public schools in Canada are funded through tax dollars. Parents usually pay only for school supplies and field trips or excursions organized by schools. All publicly funded schools accept both boys and girls, and most do not require children to wear uniforms, although some do have a dress code. Private schools can be religious, such as Catholic schools or Muslim schools. Others may have different teaching methods or smaller class sizes. Private schools charge tuition fees.

School Operation: From the age of 5 children go to Elementary school beginning with kindergarten through grade 4-5 E.g. In district 43 (Coquitlam) Elementary Schools are K-5, Middle Schools are 6-8 and Secondary School is 9-12. Some districts have junior high school (8-10) and senior secondary high school (11 and 12).

Schools generally operate weekdays from 8:30 or 9 a.m. to 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. from September through June. Schools have winter and spring breaks. Children are involved in a number of extracurricular activities such as sports and games, school club meetings that take place just after school hours.

Elementary students usually stay in one classroom all day (except for trips to the library, gymnasium and computer lab). At high school a typical day is divided into "blocks", where students move to different classrooms and teachers throughout the day.

Children get Report Cards three-four times a year to inform parents on their progress. Some schools have final tests at the end of the year and at the end of a semester. There are exams in some subjects and grades at secondary schools. In some high schools there are counsellors who help children adapt to a new school and assist in planning their education program or dealing with personal problems.

School Registration: A student will normally register at and attend the school located in the catchments area in which their parents' or legal guardian's place of residence is located. Some students may want or need to attend a school in another area for a variety of reasons ranging from special sports interests to particular academic interests such as French immersion programs. These schools may have specific enrollment procedures and requirements.

While registering, immigrant children are usually assessed for English. Those requiring ESL help, receive it through either pull out classes or through help within the regular classroom. All students are either partly or fully integrated into regular classes.