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Early and Secondary Education

Public Schools

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 on or before December 31 to be eligible to attend public school during that school year. School is mandatory until the age of 15 or 16, depending on where they live. Generally, the education system is organized in the following way:

  • Pre-primary (ages 4-5) – offered at some schools, day cares, non-profit organizations and by private individuals
  • Elementary - grades pre-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.

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 schoolboard, serving twenty-two schools and ensuring quality education in French to all Francophones in the province

Private Schools

There are a number of private schools in Halifax.  For a full listing see the Yellow Pages to see which suits best yours and your children’s interests.

Finding Childcare

In Nova Scotia, it is illegal to leave a child under 12 years old alone at home. The Nova Scotia Department of Community Services 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:

  • Where to look for child care
  • How to ensure quality care
  • How to start your own child care service
  • How to apply for subsidies in case you need help with child care expenses

Parenting Resources

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:

  • The YMCA offers a School Settlement Program that provides valuable information to help families navigate their new school and community.
  • Family Resource Centres provide community-based programs and services that support the healthy development and well-being of children and youth
  • HRM Parent connects local parents with events, services, local products, etc.

High School Equivalency

The General Education Development (GED) is an international high school equivalency testing program that:

  • Measure 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

Find more detailed information at the Newcomers' Guide to Nova Scotia schools.

You can also visit EduNova to learn more about the experience of being an international student in Nova Scotia. They offer great advice to students and parents on education, training and life in Nova Scotia.

Post-Secondary Education

Looking ahead to the future for you or your children? If you're searching for post-secondary education opportunities are in the area, Halifax has a variety of Universities and Colleges spanning a wide range of fields and programs.

Find out more