Getting Started – Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

Elementary and Secondary Education Questions

Questions about School Board

Ministry-Related Questions

Elementary and Secondary Education Questions

Which school can my child attend?

Each district school board in Ontario administers "attendance areas" for its schools, and generally, children go to the school located in the attendance area in which they live. Parents wanting to send their children to a school outside their normal attendance area must make a request to the local board for permission to do so. Refer to the School Board Finder to find the contact information of your local school board or school authority.


Can a student from outside Canada attend school in Ontario?

Yes, but in order to study here, an international student requires a valid student visa. Contact the Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission in your country to apply for one. You will also need a letter from the school in Ontario, stating that a space is available. To find out which schools have openings for foreign students, you should contact district school boards and school authorities (for publicly funded schools) or the private schools that interest you.


Who determines the school curriculum?

The Ministry of Education sets curriculum policy and defines what teachers are required to teach and students are expected to learn in each grade and subject. A consistent, provincewide curriculum is thereby ensured. However, teaching and assessment strategies are left to the professional judgement of teachers, enabling them to address individual student needs and deliver the curriculum in a context that is locally meaningful.


To whom do I speak regarding an issue at my child's school?

Whenever you have a suggestion or a concern about your child's school or education program, do not hesitate to speak with your child's teacher or the school principal. Teachers and principals are responsible for issues relating to their own schools, and welcome parental involvement. If you have further inquiries or concerns you should contact your district school board or school authority.


How do I make arrangements to teach my child at home?

Policies related to homeschooling can be found here.


How do I find a private school for my child?

A directory of all the private elementary and secondary schools in Ontario is available on this website. The database indicates general information about each school, including religious affiliation and the availability of residential facilities. To find out about courses, tuition fees, and entrance requirements, please contact the school that interests you.


How do I open a private elementary or secondary school?

Operators of private schools in Ontario are required to notify the Ministry of Education annually of their intention to operate. To obtain the relevant information package, please contact the Ministry at 416-325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514.


As an adult, how can I complete the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)?

There are several ways to complete your secondary school diploma. For example, secondary school courses leading to diploma credits are offered by correspondence through the Ministry of Education's Independent Learning Centre. More information on this program is provided in the ILC Course Guide. If you would prefer to take courses in a classroom with other adults, contact your local school board to discuss adult credit programs. Evening classes, as well as English as a Second Language courses for those who would like to improve their English skills, are also available through most Ontario school boards.


Can I take my General Educational Development (GED) test in Ontario?

The General Educational Development test is an international secondary school equivalency examination program for adults. The GED tests cover what secondary school graduates are expected to know in mathematics, writing, science, literature, and the arts. Candidates who successfully complete the tests can earn the Ontario High School Equivalency Certificate. GED tests are offered in English and French, and testing sites are located in several cities across Ontario including Toronto, Mississauga, Sudbury, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Windsor. For detailed information, visit the General Educational Development page of the Independent Learning Centre.


How do I get an official transcript from the secondary school I attended?

If you left a publicly funded school within the past five years, you will most likely be able to obtain your secondary school transcript (the Ontario Student Transcript) from the last school you attended. However, some school boards maintain records in a central office, so you may be referred to the board to obtain your transcript. If you left a publicly funded school more than five years ago, or if the school you attended is no longer in operation, you should contact the school board directly.

Contact information for publicly funded schools can be found through the School Information Finder. Refer to the School Board Finder to find the contact information of your local school board or school authority. If you are looking for the contact information of a private school refer to the directory.

If a private secondary school you attended is no longer in operation, you should contact:

Ontario Ministry of Education
Education Research and Evaluation Strategy Branch
900 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1L2
Telephone: (416) 325-2492


How do I get an evaluation of elementary or secondary education documents from outside Ontario?

In Ontario, individual elementary and secondary schools evaluate the academic records of all new students. If you or your children are new to Ontario, please take your education documents (translated into English or French) directly to the school you or your children will be attending. The records will be used by the school to determine grade-level placement and the number of graduation credits still required.


Questions about School Boards

Where can I find the contact information and web address of a district school board or board authority?

Visit the School Board Finder.


Where can I find out how my school board is performing?

The School Board Progress Reports provide information about how school boards are performing on key indicators, including literacy results, credit accumulation and class sizes.

Where can I get more information on my child's school?

You can find out about your child's school – including contact information, information about student achievement, programs available and how the school compares to similar schools or board or provincial averages – on the School Information Finder or by contacting the school, the district school board or school authority directly.


What are the roles and responsibilities of some of the positions listed on the board directory?

This information is posted on the Ministry website.


Who sets the school boards' budgets?

Funding to school boards is provided by the Ministry of Education according to the provincial funding formula which takes into account the many factors that make each school board unique.


Who sets school budgets?

This is the responsibility of the school boards. In recent years, increases to the funding formula have been made for many components of our publicly funded education system including increases in funding for special education and for the hiring of additional teachers.


Questions about Child Care

How do I find a child care provider?

There are two basic kinds of child care in Ontario: licensed and unlicensed.

Whether or not a child care program needs a licence depends on how many children a caregiver is looking after. In Ontario, caregivers can look after up to five unrelated children under the age of 10 without needing a licence. Learn more about what you should consider when looking for child care.

Search for licensed child care.

Visit your local Ontario Early Years Centre for information about unlicensed child care.


How do I find out if a child care provider is licensed?

You can search for licensed child care and find out the terms and conditions of a provider's license on their profile.

Licensed child care programs have to meet and maintain specific provincial standards. These standards are set out in the Day Nurseries Act. The standards help to make sure that the health, safety, and developmental needs of the children are being met.

Licences have to be renewed at least every year.

In Ontario, caregivers can look after up to five unrelated children under the age of 10 without needing a licence.


Ministry-Related Questions

Which legislation governs elementary and secondary education?

In Canada, education is a provincial responsibility. Elementary and secondary education in Ontario is governed by the Education Act and any amendments made to that Act. Ontario Statutes and Regulations are now available online. You can also obtain the Education Act on paper or CD-ROM from ServiceOntario Publications, the Government of Ontario book store. In addition, provincial legislation may be accessed at all depository libraries, at many public libraries, and in the reference sections of those university libraries that are open to the public.


What are the roles of the ministers, school boards, and teachers? And what about parents and students?

See Who's Responsible for Your Child's Education? for a description of the responsibilities of the various participants in Ontario's elementary and secondary school system.


How can I obtain a particular document, such as a curriculum guideline or a news release?

Begin by checking the sections of this website containing ministry publications and news releases. If the document you're looking for is not posted there, you should contact ServiceOntario Publications to determine whether printed copies are available for purchase. The address is:

ServiceOntario Centre
College Park Building, 777 Bay Street
Market Level, Suite M212
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C8
Telephone: (416) 326-5300
Toll free (in Ontario): 1-800-668-9938

Some documents may be out of print. If they are, you should be able to consult them at depository libraries or at a nearby university faculty of education.


When is Education Week?

The first full week of May is Education Week in Ontario. During this time the education community conducts a wide variety of events and activities across the province, aimed at demonstrating education in action.