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Education and Child Care in Nova Scotia

Grade [Primary and Secondary] School and High School:

Nova Scotia has more than 450 public (tuition free) schools for children. The public system goes from Primary (sometimes called kindergarten) through to Grade 12. There are also some independent schools in various areas of the province.

In Nova Scotia, children normally begin school at age five, but that is optional. Children must be 5 years of age by the 1st October for that academic year. However, once a child reaches the age of six, the law requires that they attend school until they turn 16. Parents are allowed to do home schooling if they wish.

Dependant on area, elementary normally runs from Kindergarten through to Grade 6. Children will attend Junior High[Grades 7,8 and9]. The child will then attend High school until Grade 12.

In the public school system, the most common language of instruction is English; however, there are numerous French-speaking schools as well. In some English-language schools, students can enrol in a program in which many of their classes are taught in French [French Immersion].

Admission into the public school system is based on the area and location in which you reside. In other words your child will be allocated to the school for residents within a certain area.

During scouting missions it is advisable to visit your schools of choice. Most school Principals will take time to show you around and lead you through the school culture etc.

School Uniform

Most Public [State] schools do not require the wearing of a uniform. Dress code is ascertained by the individual school. In most private schools, uniforms are mandatory.

School Lunches

The educational authority have decided to change tack and are phasing-in a much more healthy eating guide for schools across the province.

Some elementary schools offer "hot lunch" programs whereby food and catering is outsourced and delivered to the school on allocated days.

Some schools do have canteen or lunch facilities.

The province is very much "in touch" with nut and scent-free environments.


Children will also be transported to and from school by the school bus system [some conditions apply] it is always worth checking whether you live on or near the bus route for your area. You may fit into the "walking" category [conditions apply] The school can lead you through their routes and offer advice accordingly.

After School Clubs

Some schools will offer in-house after school programs.

Some schools will be affiliated with the local day care centre who will operate a private "after-school" facility. Children can be transported to these day-care centres via the school bus system. Arrangement for this will be made with the individual school and day-care centre. Prices vary [$15-$20 per session].

Performance Figures

Some interesting statistics on schools and relevant data can be explored; it is fair to say that SATS and/or the equivalent does not appear to be a major part of performance data in the public school system, as yet, although there is some press to suggest that this may be introduced in the future.

Graduation from High School

The graduation system operates very much on a "credit" system. Students coming from the UK can have their qualifications assessed and the equivalency credits awarded.

Some schools in Nova Scotia also offer the International Baccalaureate Program.

Community College and University

A comprehensive range of post-secondary education facilities is available in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Community College system has 13 campuses around the province.

In Nova Scotia and throughout Canada, a degree-granting institution is usually called a university.

Nova Scotia has 11 universities and colleges, most of which are somewhat small by American or international standards;
Dalhousie University (the largest), University of King's College , Saint Mary's University , Mount Saint Vincent University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design , all in Halifax;

Acadia University in Wolfville; St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish; the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro; Université Sainte-Anne (Francophone, near Digby); and the University College of Cape Breton in Sydney.

Nova Scotia's universities offer a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs in all the liberal arts and basic sciences, business, education, child studies, computer science, engineering, medicine, dentistry, nursing, law, public administration, public relations, oceanography and so forth. Some have developed specialty niches -- for example, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, the only degree-granting facility of its kind in the Atlantic region for fine art and graphic design; and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, which enjoys a special relationship with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.

General Childcare

Most Childcare facilities are privately funded Day-Care Centres [Private Nurseries].These are operated in a similar manner to private nurseries in the UK.
The average price of a full-day session within a private day-care centre is circa $30.

Some families will also avail of babysitters [childminders]. The hourly rate for this service is between $7 and $10. Nannies for hire within the home environment are also an option used by some families.