Blog by Chloe Cartwright, BSW, RSW, ABR

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Children's Education


Alberta has one of the world’s best education systems. This article will provide you will the details you need for both your child’s education and your own.

Children go to school for 12 years, completing both elementary and secondary school. When you arrive, you will need to enroll your children in school.

After Grade 12, post-secondary education is the next step. You may want to consider post-secondary school or look into upgrading your skills. Education can be costly, so there are a number of financial assistance programs that may be available to you.

Finally, you may want to consider taking programs for improving your English prior to beginning an educational program or entering the workforce. 

Visit the Government of Alberta Education site for more information about elementary and secondary schooling.

For more information about post-secondary schooling, visit the Advanced Education and Technology website.

Elementary and secondary

In this section you will learn about all of the education options Alberta offers to you and your family. Alberta is internationally recognized for the excellence of its K-12 (kindergarten – high school) education system. Education in Alberta is provided free of charge for children attending school from Grade 1 to Grade 12.  

Most children attend public, separate, francophone or charter schools that are part of the public education system. See school system options to learn about different types of schools.

By law, children living in Alberta must attend school from ages six to 16. Public education is provided free of charge for children and young people less than 20 years of age, up to the end of secondary school.

School levels for children


Kindergarten is an educational program for children who are under six years of age as of September 1. Most children enter Kindergarten one year before starting Grade 1. You are able to decide if your children will attend.

Elementary school

Children start elementary school in Grade 1 at about age six. Some school boards allow children to register at five-and-a-half years of age. Elementary school usually ends after Grade 6.

Junior high school

Junior high school starts at Grade 7 and ends after Grade 9. Most students in junior high school are between the ages of 11 and 15 years.

High school (secondary)

Senior high school students are usually between the ages of 16 and 18 years. Senior high school starts at Grade 10 and ends after Grade 12.

After completing the required high school courses, students must pass a series of examinations that include provincially set examinations to qualify for an Alberta High School Diploma. Students are expected to find out which courses are required to enter the post-secondary institutions they wish to attend and to select their high school courses accordingly.

Enrolling your child

You can choose which school your children will attend. When choosing a school outside of your local area, your options will depend on the availability of space in the program, services and transportation.

Your children will require study permits to attend school until your application for permanent residency is processed if you entered Canada as a visitor. Information on study permits and application forms is available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Check with your local school board to find out which schools in your area offer the types of programs and services you want – like English as a Second Language classes or instruction in languages other than English.

To enrol your child in school, take your child, an interpreter (if needed) and the following documents (if you have them) to the school:

  • Identification documents (for example: child's passport, birth certificate or permanent resident status documents)
  • School documents from your home country (for example: report cards, course outlines and examples of school work your child has done)
  • Your child's vaccination records

The school principal may ask questions about your child and will put your child in the appropriate class.

For information on subjects, programs and courses available in Alberta schools, read Helpful Resources for Parents from Alberta Education.

Upgrading your skills

For some careers, the skills and qualification you have obtained in your home country may need to be upgraded before finding work in the same field in Alberta.

Alberta’s International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) can help you obtain recognition for the education you received in your home country. IQAS provides certificates of comparison between degrees, diplomas and certificates received in another country with Canadian degrees, diplomas and certificates. Various assessments are available at a reasonable cost.

Academic upgrading and skills upgrading programs are available through the Continuing Education departments of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.

If you or your family members are between the ages of 15-30, Service Canada’s Skills Link program can help you get the knowledge and develop the broad range of skills and work experience you need to successfully participate in the job market.

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