Going to School in Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia the Education Act governs the administration of the public school system.


Who can attend public school?

  • Every person over the age of five and under the age of 21 has the right to attend a public school.


Who is required to attend school?

  • Children who are over five years and under the age of sixteen years are required to attend school. 1
  • Children are not required to attend public school if they are enrolled and attending a private school or are being provided with home education. 2


How old must my child be to attend Grade Primary?

  • To enter school, children must be five years old on or before December 31st of the calendar year in which they are being enrolled.
  • Parents of children turning five on or before December 31 are not obligated to enroll their son or daughter in Primary if they believe their child is not ready to begin formal education. Parents can choose to wait an additional year.


How can I register my child for school?

  • You can register your child at the local school they will attend, or at your regional or district school board office.
  • Visit the Schools & Boards page for school and board contact information.

    When are schools open?

    • The school year consist of 195 school days.
    • The school year begins no earlier than September 1st and ends no later than June 30th.
    • You should consult your local school board or school calendar for specific details about the schedule for the current or upcoming school year.

    Visit the Schools & Boards page for links to school and board web sites (and calendars).

    Additional resources:

    Calendrier scolaire 2016–2017 et 2017–2018 combinés

    School Calendar: 2016-2017 and 2017-2018

    Nova Scotia Directory of Public Schools (revised April 28, 2016) xls

    Nova Scotia Directory of Public Schools (revised April 28, 2016)


    What assessments will my child participate in?

    Students in Nova Scotia participate in provincial, national, and international assessments and examinations throughout their school careers. Visit the Student Assessment and Evaluation web site for complete details on:

    • Upcoming assessments and examinations
    • Assessment results
    • Teacher Resources and Professional Development opportunites

    For historical assessment information (2002-2012) visit the Student Assessment Results: Archive.


    What school programs are available?

    • Nova Scotia offers 13 grades (Grade Primary to Grade 12), taught in English and French. Visit the Program and Course Options page for details.


    What types of schools are there in Nova Scotia, and how are they administered?

    • Nova Scotia's school system is comprised of public schools, home schooled students, and private schools.

    Public schools

    Public schools operate directly under the Minister of Education. They are publicly funded, and governed by locally elected school division/district boards. 

    Children are not required to attend public school if they are enrolled and attending a private school or are being provided with home education. 2

    Home Education

    Under the Education Act, parents may provide a home education program for their child(ren) centered in their home. There are rules and regulations governing home schooling in Nova Scotia. 

    Visit the Home Schooling web site.

    Private Schools

    In Nova Scotia, private schools are not publicly funded. 

    A private school is a school, other than a public school, that serves school-age children and has a curriculum comparable to that provided by the public schools but does not include a home-education program. 3

    More information about Private Schools can be found in the Education Act 1995-96, c.1, sections 131-133.

    Designated Special Education Private School (DESPS)

    DESPS are private / independent schools that have as a primary mandate to provide programming and services for students with special needs.

    While the schools are not publicly funded, the Tuition Support Program provides funding which partially covers the tuition costs at DESPS. 

    Visit the Tuition Support web site. 

    1. Education Act 1995-96, c.1, section 111.
    2. Ibid., section 113.
    3. Ibid., sections 131-133.