Education in Canada: an overview of the primary and secondary school system

This video provides newcomers with an overview of the primary and secondary education system in Canada. The provincial and territorial governments are responsible for delivering education, so there may be differences from region to region.

Education in Canada: an overview of the primary and secondary school system

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Transcript: “Education in Canada: an overview of the primary and secondary school system”

Video length: 3:14

Light but entertaining music plays.

We see a road in the morning.

Text appears: “Information about Canada’s education system”

NARRATOR: “Everyone wants a good education for their children.”

Two yellow school buses drive toward the camera.

The shot changes to a primary school teacher with a young girl in a classroom.

NARRATOR: “In Canada, school is mandatory for all children between the ages of about 6 and 18.”

The same instructor is seen with many children sitting in a circle, clapping their hands.

We see 2 teenagers doing an experiment in science Class. One of the students holds a solution in a test tube. The other student ignites the solution inside the test tube.

The screen change to a map of Canada. The provinces are highlighted in one colour and the territories in another.

NARRATOR: Provinces and territories are responsible for delivering education, so the details about the way it is managed can vary across the country.

The map moves from the centre of the screen to the left. Another graphical element appears on screen.

NARRATOR: Education is paid for through taxes. There is no direct fee to register your child for a public school.

Text appears: No direct fees

A shot of a man walking with his daughter in front of school.

NARRATOR: Some parents may decide to register their children in private schools, which they have to pay for.

The same man is filling out papers while his daughter waits beside him.

We see 2 young girls in a home setting.

NARRATOR: Parents also have the right to teach their children at home. This is called home-schooling.

The shot changes to a mom teaching her daughter at home.

Text appears: Home Schooling

NARRATOR: Regulations vary between provinces and territories, so be sure to check with your provincial or territorial Ministry of Education.

The screen changes to the same graphical element that introduced the map of Canada. The same map as before appears on screen.

NARRATOR: The basic levels of schooling are called elementary, middle and secondary in most provinces.

The background changes to a pink-ish colour. We see 3 cartoons of students from different ages appear on screen. On the left a boy, in the middle a young girl and on the right, a male teenager.

Under the boy on the left, text appears: “elementary”, under the girl in the middle text appears “middle” and under the teenager on the right, text appears “Secondary”.

NARRATOR: Many very young children attend preschool before they enter elementary school.

A graphical element changes the screen to small children interacting in a classroom.

We see the kids assembling some multi-coloured tubes on the ground.

NARRATOR: But most children usually begin school between the ages of 4 and 6.

The shot changes to 3 girls talking to the teacher who was shown earlier in the video. It then quickly focuses on one girl and then the teacher talking.

We see a young girl putting play stones together.

A graphical element changes the screen to a young boy presenting a project in front of the classroom. The shot focuses on the young boy and then switches to the others in classroom who are listening to the presentation.

NARRATOR: English and French are spoken in communities all across the country.

A young girl raises her hand to ask a question. The class is then seen applauding after the young boy’s presentation.

NARRATOR: Parents have the right to have their child educated in either English or French.

A young girl is now in front of the class, presenting a different project.

NARRATOR: French- or English-language options may differ, depending on the community where you choose to live. A bit of research will indicate which language is most widely spoken there and what schooling options are available.

We see a board with the 5 steps of storytelling.

Children are going down a staircase and heading to the cafeteria. We see them eating and interacting with each other.

A graphical element changes appears on screen. There is a clock with a blue background. 

NARRATOR: School starts in the morning and finishes in the afternoon. The exact schedule may vary, depending on the school.

The clock goes from 9 to 12, stops, and the goes for 1 to 4.

NARRATOR: Students go to school from Monday to Friday.

The clock moves to the left of the screen and 4 other identical clocks appear. Each has a day of the week appear above it: Monday – Tuesday – Wednesday – Thursday – Friday.

NARRATOR: The school year typically begins in late August or early September and ends in June, with breaks during the year.

The screen changes to a calendar displaying the month of August. The clocks then shrink and go in the last full week of August.

The calendar, with the clocks inside, shrinks and moves to the upper left corner of the screen. Eleven other calendars, displaying the other 11 months of the year, appear on screen: September – October – November – December – January – February – March – April – May – June – July.

A graphic element sweeps the screen to reveal a coach surrounded by her basketball team of young boys.

NARRATOR: Schools can offer additional, or extra-curricular, activities in which students can participate during and outside of regular school hours. These activities help children build leadership, physical and social skills.

The screen changes to a volleyball instructor talking to his players. We then see some girls practicing volleyball in a dome.

A girl is painting a mural. We see another who is also painting a mural.

A science teacher is explaining an experiment to a class. Students pick up lab-coats and equipment.

NARRATOR: Secondary or high school begins at grade 9 in most areas. By the time they complete their schooling, students will have received 12 years of education.

A boy is pouring a solution into test tube. The girl is shown calculating something.

The teenager ignites the solution the test tube with the help of his teacher. The other girl shakes a solution in another test tube.

NARRATOR: They receive a secondary school diploma when they finish.

A group of students taking a selfie at their graduation is shown.

A graphical element sweeps the screen to reveal a woman at home, sitting on a couch and talking on her mobile phone.

NARRATOR: Contact your local school board to get more information and to enrol your child in school.

The shot changes to another woman on the phone at an office. This same woman is then shown interacting with the one that was on her cell phone at home, with her daughter beside her this time.

NARRATOR: You will need to provide your child’s birth certificate, a proof of guardianship or custody, a proof of residency, a record of vaccinations and a contact in case of emergency

Text appears: Birth Certificate – Proof of Custody – Proof of Residency – Record of Vaccination.

NARRATOR: Many schools have settlement support workers to help you and your child understand how the education system works and to adjust to school in Canada.

We now see a woman with her son talking to an instructor.

NARRATOR: And you can always refer to our website for additional information.

Text Appears:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada corporate signature along with the copyright message : “Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2019” are shown.

The Canada wordmark is shown on a black background.

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