The Canadian School System


The Canadian school system provides compulsory schooling for everyone who meets certain criteria (age and the residence status) for free. The Canadian education is a high-quality one and prompts the students to go on with their studies up to the universities. In total, over 80 percent of the Canadian pupils do enroll in a university after finishing the high school. The system is financed mostly publicly, though there are exceptions, indeed. Now, let us have a look at how the Canadian school system structured.

Pre-elementary schooling

Prior to entering a kindergarten at the age of 5, where education lasts 1 year and where the pupils are taught communication skills and some basic knowledge, parents can opt to give their children to toddler programs, nursery schools, and play schools. Pre-schools, play schools, and nursery schools are private in Canada, and so the parents of the children must pay for it. However, some church-affiliated and local community schools provide this education for free, or make it partly funded by local or church communities.

At the age of 5, children should enter the kindergartens and study there for one year. Basically, the age of 5 is the time when the compulsory studying begins.

Elementary schooling

Once a child is 6 years old, he/she must enroll in an elementary school. Considering that there are regional differences, the elementary schooling lasts either to 11 or 13 years old. Education programs in elementary schools also vary across the Canadian regions, but the pupils have to obtain the fundamental skills of maths, writing, and reading. Elementary schooling covers a wide range of subjects, including physical education, art, science, music, crafts, geography, and history. Students with unsatisfactory results may be forced to have a second year of studying, upon the end of the year.

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Secondary schooling

The secondary schooling in Canada begins when the pupils turn 12. Usually, students graduate from high schools at the age of 18, when they can start preparing to enroll in a university. Secondary schooling is divided into middle schools (from the age of 12 up to 14) and high schools (from the age of 14 up to 18 years old).

canadian school system

Even though you are legally able to drop out of a secondary school at the age of 16, most students graduate from a high school at the age of 18

While studying at this point, pupils have both mandatory and optional subjects. Mandatory subjects include maths, general science, English or French (it depends on the region), sport activities, health, and social sciences. However, the students can already start planning what profession they want to master with the help of electives, when they are given a choice to pick the subjects they want.

Private schools in Canada

Even though the majority of parents decide to enroll their children in public schools, there are also private schools in Canada. However, there is no general legislation at the federal level about private schools. Six provinces, among others, support private schools by partially co-financing them, while other regions leave this issue up to the schools’ authorities and parents of the children who attend such schools. In order to receive public funding, however, certain criteria, set by the federal and local governments, have to be met. All in all, the Canadian school system allows private schools to function in all regions, though there are certain regulations in some regions while there is no funding.


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