What are my child's schooling options?

Ontario’s public schools offer a variety of programs. You may want to research the options available to you in your neighbourhood.

Public schools in Ontario are free and provide good quality education. There are many different options within the public system. Private schools are also available, however they can be expensive.

Catchment Areas

Attendance in public schools is determined by your home address. Each school has a boundary associated with it, known as a zone or catchment area, and students attend the school in their geographical area.

You can choose to send your child to a school outside of the boundary if you find one that is better suits their needs. You can do this by talking to your school board directly.

School Programs

Some schools offer programs for children with different learning needs or academic goals. Some examples are included below.

English as a Second Language

English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are available in many elementary and secondary schools for students who do not speak English as their first language or speak a dialect of English that is different from what is used in Ontario schools.

Usually, the school or newcomer reception center will assess your child’s language skills to see if they need to take ESL classes. You can also contact your local school board to find a school that offers language programs.

Special Education

If your child is struggling with school work or school life, they may need extra help within the education system. This could be because of physical, intellectual or behavioral challenges. Ontario’s education system offers special education for such students who have different ways of learning and are identified as “exceptional pupils”.

Special education can help your child by providing a learning style to better suits their needs. For example, teachers can implement preferential seating, use assistive technology or change their teaching style.

In order for the school to administer special education for your child, you will need to work with the teachers and the Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

French Immersion

Some schools in Ontario offer French Immersion for students who want to learn and be educated in the French language. French schools teach the entire curriculum in French, except for the English language courses.

These schools usually have waiting lists and different requirements for admission. Contact the French immersion school directly to find out more information on enrolling your child.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Program

Some private, public or alternative schools offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program which has a different curriculum than the regular education stream. It is internationally recognized and designed to engage students with in-depth studies, critical thinking and practical experience. Your child can benefit if they graduate from the IB program as it is recognized by many international universities.

Alternative Schools

If your child has a specific interest, or you would like a certain style of instruction for them, you may also want to consider alternative schools.

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Last updated: September 16, 2019 4006141