Ontario’s school system and its excellence are no exception if we talk about Canadian education. Canada is a leading country in education and ranks on top for its well-structured modernized education system. Therefore, any family planning to settle in this country need not stress about their children’s education because of abundant opportunities. However, Ontario immigrants must only focus on the following things:
Ontario’s school system- the types of schools
Ontario requires children between the age group of 6-18 years old to go to school. Ontario schooling comprises primary or elementary and secondary education. Additionally, the grading system mainly starts from kindergarten to the twelfth grade, with primary school functioning from kindergarten to Grade 8. On the other hand, secondary education begins from Grade 9 to Grade 12.
However, the exact division of the type of schools in Ontario is given below:
Ontario public schooling
As many as 20 million Canadians access education based on Ontario’s public schooling system. This system further divides into a variety of district board schools. Ontario is home to 4,000 schools with public funding and around 1.4 million students are a part of these schools. Apart from this, about 850 secondary schools comprise over 700,000 students.
Public English language schools
Publicly funded English language schools provide education to those attending school between Kindergarten and Grade 12. Students residing in the catchment area can access the school without paying fees. Ontario consists of at least 31 public English language schools, with Toronto District School Board, as the largest Canadian school board.
Public French language schools
There are primarily four boards under the public French language schools that operate an entire chain of 136 primary and high schools. This French-language system holds the school’s responsibility to protect and improve the French culture and language. Hence, these schools have French as a medium of teaching the curriculum to its students in Ontario. However, it is crucial to qualify the following criteria to admit your child into a French-language school:
- One of the child’s parents must have French as their native language.
- Also, one parent must have studied the French language in Canada.
- Having siblings who studied at a French language school in Canada.
Even if you fail to meet the above criteria, you can still proceed to apply to a French language school in Canada. Further, the local school board will be reviewing your application. Additionally, the public school system also offers several French immersion programs, while the subjects within these programs are both in French and English languages. Notably, these programs are extremely quick to fill and often involve long waiting times to acknowledge students’ applications.
Catholic education is also prevalent in Ontario for those who have faith in the Catholic tradition. Both elementary and secondary students can pursue education in Ontario’s Catholic schools. Eligible students can study in these schools for free because the provincial government provides funds to Catholic schools. Students having at least one Roman Catholic parent or guardian or who follow the Catholic religion can get admission to these schools. However, those with different faith might also get admission to Catholic schools.
Catholic schools have the English language
Catholic schools with the English language provide education to students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Also, Ontario comprises at least 29 school boards of the Catholic English language, offering education to more than 575,000 students.
There is also a Toronto Catholic District School Board, the world’s largest school board with public funding.
Catholic schools with the French language
Ontario currently consists of eight Catholic French-language school boards. These school boards provide education with the medium of instruction as the French language to those students having at least one parent who is a Francophone and Catholic. Additionally, secondary schools can also admit students if they have proficiency in the French language even though they haven’t attended a French-Catholic school at the primary level before.
Ontario private schools
Numerous students attend publicly funded schools in Ontario. However, a significant number of students also attend private schools within this province. Private schools are different from the ones operating as public schools as they require fees for your child’s education and these act-like businesses. These types of schools function separately without Ontario’s Ministry of Education although they do follow Ontario’s curriculum only. The private schools in this province are rather too extreme and one can expect to pay between $4000 to $80,000 CAD every year.
Apart from this, parents generally consider several factors while determining a good school for their child. These include the approach adopted by the institution, their religious faiths, or also sending their child to a convent school.
A minor section of parents tends to educate their children at home and do not enroll them in private or public schools. Parents also have the option to undergo examinations such as the (Education Quality and Accountability Office) in Grades 3,9, 6, and 10, without any cost. You could contact the Ministry of Education to get more information about Ontario’s Homeschooling policies.
Ontario’s Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education is available in a pre-schooling setting between the age group of three to five. Usually, children start their schooling when they turn four years old. This type of education adopts an easy approach to learning while playing. Toddlers as young as 18 months old get admission here. Acquiring early education for children doesn’t come free of cost, and parents can usually expect to pay between $400 and $13,000 CAD every month. Also, children tend to opt for morning or afternoon programs for two to three hours.
Ontario’s preschool programs
The provincial government governs Ontario’s early childhood programs. Parents must choose a preschool program that belongs to the Registered Early Childhood Educators and request a one-time visit.
The province has the following types of preschool programs:
- Montessori schools– These schools operate on a philosophical life and not with a teaching approach. A few Montessori schools function at preschool and elementary levels.
- Religious schools– These types of schools preach religious education and have tie-up with religious institutions. Children might not essentially follow the same religion as the school.
- Local community schools/ non-profit co-operative schools– These types of schools provide the opportunity for parents to assist the professional teachers in the school. Hence, these are the least costly.
- Private schools– These kinds of schools are highly expensive and comprise various set-ups, including small home-like setups to massive-built schools.
Grade structure and education level in Ontario
Ontario’s public education can be classified into elementary and secondary education:
Four-year-old children can take admitted into a full-day kindergarten, while usually, graduation takes place for a student when he turns 13 years old. Grade schools include schooling from primary kindergarten to Grade 8.
Secondary schools usually operate from Grade 9 to Grade 12. Also, students at the age of 14 generally start their secondary education, while they end it at the age of 18. Hence, students need to fulfill the secondary school requirements in the province to complete their graduation. However, once they graduate, they receive a secondary school diploma. After completing their secondary school, they can apply to universities, colleges, work, or vocational training.
Enrolling children in Ontario schools
Children start attending kindergarten school as early as four-year-old, but they don’t require to mark their attendance as it is only compulsory for children who are either six-year-old or above. As per the norm, district school boards need to restrict the selection of students to areas where they live. This further implies that they can only get admitted to schools that are situated in the area or region they live in. In special cases, the school might even admit students from other areas. However, this will greatly depend on the number of admissions already done in schools.
Parents will have to submit the following document proof to enroll their child in these schools:
- Copies of passport, birth certificate, and age.
- Evidence related to your residential address, utility bills, lease, or bank statements.
- In case the child doesn’t live with their parents, guardianship proof will be required.
- Immigration status also requires evidence such as a permanent resident card, Permanent Residence proof, and a landing record.
Steps to admit your children to Ontario’s school
It is crucial to enroll your child in Ontario’s school using the following steps:
- The official website of Ontario’s government comprises a school information finder to check whether elementary and high schools lie within the same area where you reside.
- For your child’s online registration, visit the local school board and follow the given instructions.
- It is compulsory to fill out an online application form requesting all details of the child, such as ID proof, residential proof, and immunization record copy as part of the application.
- For instance, if you are a newcomer in Canada and want your child to get admission to a high school, your child will have to undergo assessments and tests in Math and English.
- Additionally, the child will visit a guidance counselor to discuss details related to career objectives as well as former schooling. The counselor will further suggest your child’s suitable school courses.
Expenditure related to schooling
Ontario’s public schooling is free of cost; however, there are a few additional costs related to schooling. You must plan for these schooling expenses beforehand; they’re as follows:
Stationary is one of the crucial things a child needs to bring on his own, according to the given school list. Usually, schools only provide books for free, and children buy essential stationary items on their own, including pencils, erasers, scales, crayons, fevicol, etc. Other important things include a bag, lunch box, and water bottle. They will need to buy these at the beginning of the year and their new grade. They might also be required to give back the textbooks to the school after the end of the session. Schools might end up providing technology in special cases if required.
Children between the age group of four to twelve can access Ontario’s school boards with their before and after programs. Local third parties might operate them, for example, YMCA. However, the program costs will differ from one another. Toronto’s program fees will be in the range of $29-$38 CAD each day. The Municipal Service Systems Manager (local) will provide options for a subsidy to parents.
Children living at least 3 km at a distance from school can also access the school buses available in Ontario. You will not have to pay any extra charges to avail of the school bus facility. However, high school students will need to use public transport to commute to and from school every day. Additionally, local school boards can provide assistance to Grade 9 to 12 students regarding the public transit cost.
Public schools don’t have compulsory school uniforms but they do impose specific dress codes on the students. Conversely, private schools require their students to wear school uniforms and their costs will differ from school to school. However, local school boards do inform parents about the best place to buy their child’s school uniforms.
Schools often organize field trips
Most schools organize field trips so that students can attain knowledge through different places, such as cultural institutions and museums. They can participate in other outdoor activities also but they will need to pay for them. The trips could also involve night trips and camps and children will need to pay for accommodation and transport. However, schools might provide financial support to parents in special cases.
Fundraising activities in schools include book fairs, pizza lunches, bake sales, or holiday gift sales. Parents might have to spend between $25 to $45 CAD every year on fundraising activities of the school. The funds through such activities are used for funding school trips, buying new technology, and learning resources.
If you genuinely seek to settle in the province, it is better to understand Quebec’s school system in the province so that they can get your child admitted to the right school, plan the paperwork beforehand and help your child in receiving the best education.