All children in Nova Scotia are legally required to attend school until age 16. Parents also have the option of performing home-schooling, but they must still follow specific guidelines and courses.

Public schools

Public education is run by the government and paid for through taxes. In Nova Scotia, most residents attend public school, starting at age 5 with grade primary in elementary school. Primary is followed by grades 1 to 6. After elementary school, youth attend grades 7 to 9 at a junior high school, and high school for grades 10 through 12.

Public schools operate for about 5 hours a day. Times vary at different schools and at different levels. Language instruction can either be in French or English, but most schools in Nova Scotia are primarily English. French immersion is also available.

In Nova Scotia, French is taught to all students from grades 4 to 9 and is an optional credit in high school.

In all public schools in Nova Scotia, all genders are taught in the same classroom. This means that boys and girls learn together. They are taught by a qualified teacher who has at least one university degree and advanced training in education.

After completing high school, students may choose to continue with post secondary education at university, community college or through an apprenticeship. For more information on post secondary education visit Where to Study.

Enrolling your child in public school

You can register your child at the local school they will be attending or at the regional school board office. It is important to provide as much documentation as possible about your child’s education outside of Canada. This will help place them in a level of learning that is right for them. A useful resource is the Newcomers’ Guide to Nova Scotia Schools.

The Directory of Public Schools can help you find a school in your area. Information and links to each Regional School Board are on the Department of Education website.

The Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) is Nova Scotia’s only Francophone school board, with over 20 schools offering quality French-language education for students from kindergarten to grade 12.

Information is available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to determine if your child needs a study permit.

Home schooling

Parents may legally provide an education program for their children in the home, rather than a public school. They must follow government approved courses and programs. Visit the Nova Scotia Department of Education website for more information on home schooling.

Adult education

The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) supports adult education programs from basic literacy to high school completion. It provides funding to community-based organizations, regional school boards, Nova Scotia Community College and Collège de l’Acadie. These organizations deliver programs so adults can improve their literacy skills or earn credits toward the Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma for Adults.