Most children attend publicly-funded schools which are run by the ministries, though some children do attend private schools. These private schools are run by independent operators who must conform to government guidelines regarding education.
There are some children who are taught at home by their parents or tutors. These children are said to be "home schooled”.
Which school children attend most often depends on where they live. In the public school system, a certain school services a certain region; all the children who live within that region will attend that school. In some provinces, students from outside a school's region may apply to go to school there. This generally happens when a school has a reputation for excelling in a certain academic area.
Students attending a private school may come from many different areas. The schools may have dormitories for out-of-town and overseas students to live in.
Elementary (or public) schools and secondary (or high) schools are the first step in Canadian education. The age of children in public school ranges from 3 - 13. The age of children in secondary school ranges from 14 - 18. In order to continue on to university or college, students in Canada must finish secondary school.
Public Secondary School (Public High School) - A secondary school funded by the provincial government run public organizations called boards of education or district school boards.
Private Secondary School (Private High School) - A secondary school funded through student tuition payments and run as a private organization which conforms to government guidelines and standards.
Undergraduate schools include universities, university colleges, colleges and career colleges. Degrees types granted by these schools include bachelor degrees, certificates and diplomas.
Graduate schools are publicly-funded schools that teach master's and doctorate (PhD) programs. Professional schools prepare people for careers such as doctors, dentists and lawyers.
In Canada, language schools specialize in teaching international students or newly arrived immigrants English or French as a second language. They may also prepare students for language proficiency tests. In most cases, language schools are privately funded schools though some publicly-funded colleges and universities run their own language schools.
Although the system differs in each region, generally we can understand it in 2 subdivisions: in Quebec and outside of Quebec. The differences in names and groups in provinces other than Quebec are negligible. The system within each school differs also but not substantially. To understand more about Canada education system, we should take deeper and separated look on the detailed system in provinces out-of-Quebec and in Quebec.
· Early childhood education:
o Junior Kindergarten (ages 4–5) (Ontario only)
o Grade Primary or Kindergarten (ages 5–6)
· Elementary education:
o From Grade 1 (ages 6–7) to Grade 8 (ages 13-14)
· Secondary education:
o From Grade 9 (ages 14–15) to Grade 12 (ages 17-18) or to Grade 12+ (ages 18+) only in Ontario.
· Tertiary education:
o College: In Canada, the term college usually refers to a community college or a technical, applied arts, or applied science school. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associates degree, and bachelor's degrees.
o University: A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is a corporation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education.
o Graduate school: A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic certificates, diplomas and degrees (i.e. master's degree, Ph.D.).
· préscolaire (Pre-school): Under 5
· maternelle (Kindergarten): 5-6
· école primaire (literally Primary school, equivalent to Elementary School or Grade School)
From Grade 1 (ages 6-7) to Grade 6 (ages 11-12)
· école secondaire (literally Secondary school, or High School)
From Secondary I (ages 12-13) to Secondary V (ages 16-17)
Secondaries I-V are equivalent to grades 7-11. In most English High Schools, the different terms are used interchangeably. In some English high schools, as well as in most French schools, high school students will refer to secondary 1-5 as year one through five.
o Pre-university program, two years (typically Social Sciences, Natural Sciences or Arts)
o Professional program, three years (e.g. Paralegal, Dental Hygienist, Nursing, etc.)
· University (Usually requires a Diploma of College Studies (DCS (DEC in French)) or equivalent)
§ Three or four years leading to a Bachelor's degree. Non-Quebec students require an extra year to complete the same degree because of the extra year in college.
o Graduate (or postgraduate)
§ One or two years leading to a Master's degree.
§ Three or more years leading to a Doctoral degree.