Early and Secondary Education
Public education is free and available to every child in Canada. The NS Department of Education & Early Childhood Development offers a great range of services to all Nova Scotians attending school, from grades 1 to 12.
Your child must be five years old by or before December 31 to be eligible to attend public school during a school year. School is mandatory until the age of 15 or 16, depending on where you live.
Generally, the education system is organized in the following way:
- Pre-primary (ages 3-5) – offered at some schools, day cares, non-profit organizations and by private individuals
- Elementary - grades primary - 6
- Middle School/Junior High – grades 7-9
- High School – grades 10-12
- Community College or University
In Halifax, there are more than 54,000 students, 140 schools and 3,600 teachers. For more information on Nova Scotia's public education system, look at the Newcomers Guide to Nova Scotia Schools.
How can I register my child?
- To learn which school your child should be attending, you can visit the School Locator at the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) website and type in your home address
- Complete the registration form. You can find it at your local school or online
- It is recommendable to register early, as school staff can often make the time to meet with you in advance and talk with you and your child
- Within the English schools, there are French immersion programs and options for French schooling and home schooling. Visit the HRCE for more details
- Francophone residents may want to visit the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial. This is Nova Scotia’s French school board, serving twenty-two schools and ensuring quality education in French to all Francophones in the province
There are a number of private schools in Halifax. For a full listing, see the Yellow Pages, and find the school that suits best yours and your children’s interests.
Did You Know?
The YMCA offers a School Settlement Program that provides valuable information to help newcomer students and families navigate their new school and community.
Finding Child care
In Nova Scotia, it is illegal to leave a child under 12 years old alone at home. The Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is a great resource for parents seeking for quality child care in the province. This Department regulates and licenses all child care facilities in Nova Scotia.
Among other things, they can give you information on:
If you are looking for play groups, classes, activities, family events and support programs in Halifax, you may want to take a look at these resources:
High School Equivalency
The General Education Development (GED) is an international high school equivalency testing program that:
- Measures skills similar to those of recent high school graduates.
- Gives a Nova Scotia High School Equivalency certificate of Grade 12 to those adults who pass the test
There are eight higher education institutions in HRM. You can visit them online and find the program that best suits your interests.