Study at elementary /secondary school

The first years of compulsory schooling in Canada are called elementary or primary school. Elementary school is usually mixed and attended until age 11 (grades 1 to 6), when students go on to a junior high school. By law, children in Canada must go to school. Depending on the province or territory, children may start at the age of 5 or 6 and continue until they are between 16 and 18. 

Schools in Canada start with kindergarten and continue to grades 1 to 12, usually begin at the end of August and finish around the end of June run from Monday to Friday during the school year (except during holidays). Canada gives high school diplomas to students who successfully complete secondary school (high school). If you and your family arrive in Canada during the school year, contact Your Special Immigration to find a place for your children. It’s up to parents to choose the type of schooling for their children, such as free public schools, paid private schools, at-home education, English or French schools (in many areas).To find out the best school in any areas in Canada, contact with Your Special Immigration team.

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.

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.

Standardized curriculum

Alberta’s provincial government is responsible for the curriculum within Alberta schools. This outlines what students are expected to learn and do in all subjects and grades. It is designed to help students achieve their individual potential and create a positive future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Highly qualified, government certified teachers

All teachers have a minimum four-year university degree, which includes a teacher preparation program. Teachers in Alberta are mentors and motivators – they help students develop the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to succeed.
Modern schools and technology

There are modern schools across rural and urban Alberta. Students and teachers have access to technology to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Students and teachers may use videoconferencing, interactive whiteboards, computers, and various other educational tools.

School calendar and holidays

The school year is traditionally from September to June. In senior high school, the school year is divided into two semesters with exams at the end of each semester.

Summer holidays: 2 months (July and August)
Winter holidays: 2 weeks at the end of December
Spring break: one week either late March or early April
High school first semester: September to end of January
High school second semester: February to the end of June

Structure of school system

The Alberta Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) school system includes programs for students ranging from pre-school age to senior high school age. After senior high, students may choose to continue their studies at a post-secondary institution.

Tuition fees

There is a range of tuition fees for international students in Alberta:

for one semester (5 months): from $4,975 to $7,000 Canadian dollars
for a full school year (10 months): from $9,500 to $12,500 Canadian dollars

Tuition fees for summer programs vary according to the length and intensity of the program.

Do tuition fees include everything?

Not necessarily — some school authorities may charge additional fees items such as:

  • book rentals
  • transportation
  • extracurricular activities

How to apply

In Alberta, schools are grouped into school authorities. Once you decide where in Alberta you would like to study, you must apply directly to the school authority of your choice. School authorities are responsible for accepting applications and admitting international students.
Step 1. Research schools and programs and apply to the school authority

The application process varies from one school authority to another, but generally students are required to submit the following:

application fee (varies with each school authority but generally not refundable)
a letter of reference from your current principal
your most recent report card
a copy of your academic record (transcripts) for the last two years
custodianship documents

Step 2. Pay your tuition fees

Once your application is accepted by the school authority, you will be advised to pay your tuition fees. Once payment is received they will issue you a letter of acceptance.

Step 3. Apply for your study permit

You will need to include your letter of acceptance as part of your study permit application.
Study permits are issued by the Government of Canada.

Step 4. Apply for health care

All students require health care coverage.
Alberta Health Care is available free of charge to international students who have a valid study permit and who are in Alberta for at least one year. Alberta health care covers the basic health expenses. It does not cover dental treatment or prescription drugs.
Most school authorities will also require private health care coverage for their international students.

Education System of BC

BC is the top destination in Canada for international students in elementary and secondary (K-12) education.

The province has an exceptional public education system: K-12 students consistently rank among the best in the world according to achievement tests such as the OECD PISA, a reliable global indicator on the performance of education systems.

Both BC’s public school districts and independent schools have a long history of welcoming and supporting international students for short-term study, specialized summer camps, and longer-term studies culminating in the BC graduation certificate, the Dogwood diploma. Schools may also offer enriched curricula options such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Placement (AP).

There are 60 public school districts in BC spread across large urban centres, small cities and towns, and beautiful rural areas. Independent schools are also located throughout the province and provide day programs as well as boarding options. Both public and independent schools are inspected and approved by the BC Ministry of Education.

Education Quality Assurance

Education Quality Assurance (EQA) is a quality assurance designation. If you see that your school or institution has EQA status, this means it has met or exceeded provincial government-recognized quality assurance standards and offers you consumer protection.
Benefits of EQA

The EQA seal provides one standard provincial trademark for educational quality assurance that is recognizable worldwide. EQA:

Allows international students to easily see BC institutions that have met government-recognized quality assurance standards and offer consumer protection
Eliminates the need for learners to understand the different provincial quality assurance processes that govern each type of BC post-secondary institution
Helps parents, counsellors, agents and officials support students in choosing a quality post-secondary institution for their overseas studies

When to apply

Application for K-12 (elementary and secondary) education usually happens twice per year: You can apply in either January or September. Deadlines may vary, however, so it’s best to contact the International Education Office at your preferred school or institution.
Language schools

Programs for language schools run year-round. You should call or email the International Education Office of your preferred institution to learn directly about the best time to apply.


Most post-secondary institutions follow a trimester schedule (which means three terms in one year). Knowing when to apply depends on when in the year you would like to study in BC.
Winter semester: January–April
Summer semester: May–August
Fall semester: September–December

Going to School in Manitoba

Education is a provincial government responsibility in Canada.
In Manitoba, education is governed principally by The Public Schools Act and The Education Administration Act as well as regulations made under both Acts. Rights and responsibilities of the Minister of Education and the rights and responsibilities of school boards, principals, teachers, parents and students are set out in the legislation.

Right to attend school

Children who are six years of age or older on December 31 in a given year have the right to attend school from the beginning of the fall term of that calendar year until they receive a graduation diploma, or until the last school day of June in the calendar year in which they become 21 years of age.

Enrolment Cap Policy for International Students in Manitoba Kindergarten to Grade12 Schools

Each year, Manitoba welcomes many international students to the Manitoba public and funded independent school systems. The new Enrolment Cap Policy for International Students in Manitoba Kindergarten to Grade 12 Schools is designed to help international students succeed in Manitoba. Enrolment of international students is limited to no more than 20% of total school enrolment in any one school in a given year. Effective September 1, 2017, this policy will help ensure that support services and resources specific to the unique language and learning needs of international students are available and accessible.

Children are required to attend school from the time they reach compulsory school age (7 years of age or will be reaching 7 years of age by December 31 in a given calendar year) until they attain the age of 18. Every parent or legal guardian of a child of compulsory school age is responsible for sending his/her child to school. Every student is responsible for attending school and classes regularly and on time, and completing assignments and other related work.

Schools of Choice

With the provisions of the Schools of Choice initiative, students may apply for admission to any public school in the province.

School Year

The number of days in the school year will vary from year to year depending upon the date of the first Tuesday following Labour Day. Up to a maximum of ten non-instructional days can be used for teacher in-service, parent-student conferences, administration and pupil evaluation. Of these ten days, five must be used for teacher in-service. The instructional time per week from kindergarten to grade 8 is approximately 1650 minutes.

Transportation Eligibility

Generally speaking, school divisions/districts are required to provide or make provision for transportation for all resident students eligible for transportation according to provincial requirements and local school board policy.

Administration of Schools

Manitoba’s school system is comprised of public schools, independent schools that receive provincial funding, non-funded independent schools and home schooled students.

Public schools

Public schools operate directly under the Minister of Education. These schools are governed by locally elected school division/district boards. Public schools are funded by a combination of direct provincial funding and special taxation levies. All Canadian citizens and landed immigrants residing with a parent or legal guardian in Manitoba have the right to attend public schools subject to provincial regulations.

Independent schools

The operation of independent schools varies. Some schools are affiliated with a specific religious or denominational group. They have their own governing bodies or boards. Independent schools are eligible for provincial funding if they implement the Manitoba curriculum and meet a number of additional requirements. Non-funded independent schools may not follow provincial curricula but must deliver a standard of education to that provided in a public school. Only funded independent schools are authorized to issue Senior Years course credits recognized by Manitoba Education.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Education is responsible for publicly funded elementary and secondary education. Elementary Education.
There are 4 publicly-funded school systems, private schools and homeschooling.

Publicly-Funded Schools:

Ontario has 4 publicly-funded school systems:

  • English Public
  • English Catholic
  • French-language Public
  • French-language Catholic

Publicly-funded schools are managed by district school boards.
English Public elementary and secondary schools, and English Catholic secondary schools are open to all students.

Catholic elementary schools are open to all students who are baptized as Roman Catholic and to children who have 1 or 2 Roman Catholic parents. Some English Catholic school boards might admit non-Catholic students into a Catholic elementary school. For more information about admission to a Catholic elementary school, contact your local school board.

Generally, French language schools are open to all students seeking a French language education.

Private Schools:

Private or independent schools also offer elementary and secondary education. These schools do not receive government funding, and usually students must pay to attend them. These schools may focus on religion, culture, language, or specific approaches to teaching.


Homeschooling is teaching your child at home

Approximately 1.4 million students attend Ontario’s 4,000 publicly funded elementary schools. The focus in these early years is to build a foundation in key areas that will help unlock each student’s

At what age do children attend school in Ontario?
children aged 6-18 must attend school. Many children can begin full day kindergarten program at age 4.

Elementary schools provide full day kindergarten programs for children aged 4 and 5. They also provide instruction from grades 1 – 8. Generally, students begin elementary school at 6 years of age and graduate at 13.

Secondary schools, often called “high schools,” provide instruction from grades 9 – 12. Generally, students begin high school at 14 years of age and graduate at 18.


In elementary schools, classrooms are organized into classrooms with Junior Kindergarten (JK) and Senior Kindergarten (SK) and Grades 1 through 6.Some elementary schools do not offer Grade 6, and many elementary schools continue through to Grade 8.In some areas, however, students who are entering Grade 7 will change schools, and go to what is called Middle School until completing Grade 8. They will then switch to what is called Secondary (High) School to complete Grade 9 through 12.Some schools in Ontario combine Grades 7 through 12. Some schools have child-care facilities that are available before and after the school day. Younger children may use child-care facilities all day and during school breaks.


•PROOF OF CHILD’S AGE: a birth certificate or passport.
•PROOF OF ADDRESS: copy of a bank statement, telephone or electrical bill, or apartment lease with your name and address.
•PROOF OF GUARDIANSHIP: required when children under 18 are not living with a parent.
•IMMUNIZATION RECORD: proof that your children have been immunized.


In Ontario, all publicly-funded schools must follow the Ontario Curriculum (which is determined by the Ministry of Education). The Ontario Curriculum describes what students are expected to know and be able to do in each subject area by the end of Junior and Senior Kindergarten and following the completion of each grade or subject. There are curriculum documents for each of the following school subject areas:
•English and French
•Science and Technology
•Social Studies
•History and Geography
•Health and Physical Education
•Native Languages


In general, there are no fees charged for attending publicly-funded schools. The costs of materi-als and activities for elementary and secondary education are provided to schools by the Ministry of Education.
What does a student need to graduate from high school?
To graduate from high school and receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) students must:

Earn 30 credits – 18 credits are compulsory. This means that students must take these 18 courses from a list of required subjects. The remaining 12 credits are optional. Students choose their optional courses from the full range of courses that their school offers.
Pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC).
Complete 40 hours of community involvement (volunteer work).

The high school program is based on a credit system. Students get 1 credit for every 110-hour course successfully completed.

Although students may take 8 credits per year and complete secondary school in four years, many students take a fifth year or an additional semester. Extending their studies this way allows them to take fewer courses each year (or explore their interest in other school subjects.) Some students take more courses than necessary or take courses during the summer and finish faster.

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