Elementary and secondary education

Canada’s elementary and secondary schools follow a government curriculum and employ government certified teachers, ensuring a high level of quality and a focus on individual student needs. This successful environment is highly acclaimed as school students excel in science, reading, and mathematics: Canadian students have consistently been among the top 5 academic performers in the world and number 1 among English speaking countries according to the OECD PISA studies in reading, mathematics and science. Students may choose from public or private school options.

In addition to the high quality of teaching Canadian schools provide students with a nurturing environment through student services and pedagogical services such as; counselling, academic and professional advisers, community involvement, second language support, special needs learning, tutorial sessions and extracurricular activities.

The facts

  •  Elementary schools are grades 1 – 6.
  • Secondary schools are grades 7 – 12 in most provinces, with the exception of Quebec where secondary school  runs from grades 7 – 11.
  • The school year runs from September – June.
  • Canadian high school diplomas are recognized by colleges and universities worldwide.
  •  English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) courses are available to support international students.
  •  Schools are the responsibility of the ministry or department of education in each province and territory.
  •  All schools must register with and meet the curriculum and graduation requirements set by the Ministry of Education for that province/territory.

Public schools

  •  Offer co-educational day programs.
  •  Homestay programs are available for international students.
  •  Tuition and homestay fees may be found on their respective websites or by contacting the school directly.

Private schools

  •  Independently funded.
  •  Co-educational, or boys only, or girls only.
  •  Smaller class sizes and lower teacher-student ratios.
  •  Full boarding or homestay programs available for international students.
  •  Annual fees for a boarding school education in Canada (including tuition, room and board) depend on the institution.
  •  The legal status of private schools varies across Canada as each province or territory is responsible for the regulatory environment of schools in its jurisdiction.

Education systems

In Canada, provinces and territories are responsible for their elementary and secondary schools, both within and without their geographical borders.

There are numerous private, independent and publicly-funded elementary and secondary schools available in Canada.

International students can choose to study intensive English or French. Alternatively, they can enrol in an integrated academic and English or French program. For those with strong language skills in either official language, there are various academic programs, which can lead to a secondary school diploma.

Private elementary and secondary schools

The legal status of private schools varies across Canada as each province or territory is responsible for the regulatory environment of schools in its jurisdiction.

Most provinces and territories require private schools to be registered with their ministries of education, and must meet the curriculum and other standards set by their respective ministries; however, they may operate differently.

In Ontario, for example, private schools operate independently without any oversight by the Ministry of Education. However, if a private school wishes to offer credits toward a secondary school graduation diploma they are inspected to determine whether the standard of instruction in credit courses meets ministry requirements.

Public elementary and secondary schools

Many Canadian public schools are now accepting international students into their programs. Publicly-funded schools are managed at the local level by elected school boards.

Almost all public schools are co-educational and offer day programs only. Many school boards offer secular or non-religious education while others have religious affiliations. However, this varies from province to province.
Policies on accepting international students and the fees charged vary from district to district.