When moving to a new country as a family, the schooling for your children is as important as finding employment and deciding where to settle. Fortunately, Canada is internationally ranked as a leader in education and there are plenty of educational opportunities for families. For newcomers to Saskatchewan, here is what you need to know about navigating the school system and enrolling your child.
|Looking for more information on schooling in Canada?
See The newcomer guide to schooling in Canada for information on an overview of the types of school education in Canada, as well as how to enroll your child.
Types of schools in Saskatchewan
In Saskatchewan, children aged seven to 16-years-old must attend school. Schooling consists of elementary (also known as primary) and secondary education. Grades range from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Elementary school operates from Kindergarten to Grade 8 and secondary schools from Grade 9 to 12. Here’s a breakdown the types of schools in Saskatchewan:
1. Public English language schools in Saskatchewan
The public school system in Saskatchewan provides free education to students and is divided into 18 public school districts. Saskatoon Public Schools is the largest division in the province. It operates 49 elementary schools, 10 secondary schools and educates more than 26,000 students.
2. Francophone schools in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan has one francophone school board that operates 15 Fransaskois schools in the province. These schools teach primarily in French. The criteria to enroll your child into a Francophone school is a parent must be a Canadian citizen one of the following criteria:
- Their first language learned and understood is French
- At least one parent attended a French-language school in Canada
- Their child has received or is receiving education in French in Canada
Children whose parents are landed immigrants or have a Francophone heritage may also be eligible to attend. You will need to submit an admission request which goes to a committee for review.
If you don’t meet these criteria, you can still submit an application to a French-language school, which would be reviewed by the local school board. There are 85 French Immersion programs available in Saskatchewan. In a French Immersion school, subjects are taught in both French and English. The programs tend to fill up quickly, and there are often long wait times before a student will even be considered.
3. Catholic schools in Saskatchewan
In Saskatchewan, eight separate school boards exist for Catholic education. As the provincial government funds Catholic schools, there is no fee to attend. Admission requirements are open to students who are baptized as Roman Catholic and/or have at least one Roman Catholic parent or guardian. Students of other faiths may also be admitted to a Catholic school upon application.
4. Private schools in Saskatchewan
While the majority of students go to a publicly-funded school, there are a small number of private schools that operate in the province. The difference is these schools operate as a business and you will have to pay for your child to attend. In Saskatchewan, private school education costs range greatly. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $54,000 CAD per year. The provincial government provides partial funding to independent schools that meet certain criteria, including they follow the provincial curriculum, employ certified teachers and take part in student assessments. Parents generally choose a private school education for their child based on the school’s approach to learning, or for religious beliefs.
A small fraction of parents in Saskatchewan opt their children out of both public and private schools and educate them at home, which is known as homeschooling. Parents who opt to homeschool their child are required to contact the board of education of their school division and submit a written education plan.
Early childhood education in Saskatchewan
In Saskatchewan, children begin schooling at the age of five. Before then, early childhood education (ECE) is available. This age-appropriate, play-based learning is usually provided to children aged between three and five in a preschool setting.
Prekindergarten (Pre-K) is an early childhood education program that is available in 316 schools across Saskatchewan, for children aged three to four. The program is designed to prepare children for Kindergarten and is only available under the following circumstances:
- Socio-economic factors
- Single or teen parent
- Family crisis or isolation
- Language delays
- Social, emotional or behavioural challenges
- Home language is not English
Parents will need to apply for a prekindergarten program in their local community but contacting their school division.
However, private preschool programs are also available in the province. Programs usually run in the morning or afternoon for between two and three hours and parents can expect to pay around $195-$280 CAD per month. For families living in Saskatoon, a tuition subsidy may be available through the Saskatoon Preschool Foundation.
Types of preschool programs in Saskatchewan
When it comes to choosing a preschool program, look for one with Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs), and ask to drop in for a visit. Here are some types of preschools available in Saskatchewan:
- Local community or non-profit co-operative schools: These are usually the least expensive as parents work voluntarily as teachers’ aides alongside professional teachers.
- Religious schools: Usually attached to religious institutions and may include religious education (it isn’t essential for children to follow the same religion as the school).
- Private schools: These are most expensive and vary considerably from small home-run set-ups to large custom-built schools.
- Montessori schools: Montessori is more of a philosophy of life than a teaching method. Some Montessori schools have preschool (for children aged two and a half to six years) and elementary levels (ages six to 12).
Early education might be a good option for families who don’t have English or French as their first language as it will help the child learn these languages prior to starting kindergarten or elementary school.
Grade structure and levels of education in Saskatchewan
Education in Saskatchewan is divided into elementary schools and secondary schools. Public education is free for Canadian citizens, permanent and temporary working residents, or refugees.
Grade schools operate from Kindergarten through to Grade 8. Children can enroll in Kindergarten the year they turn five. Generally, students graduate grade school at the age of 12-13.
Secondary schools, also known as “high school,” operate from Grades 9 to 12. Generally, students begin high school at the age of 13-14 and graduate at 18. In order to graduate, students must meet the provincial high school requirements. After completing secondary school, they can apply to go to college, university, some other vocational training (such as a trade), or work.
How to enroll your kids into school in Saskatchewan
In Saskatchewan, children are eligible to begin kindergarten the year they turn five, although attendance isn’t mandatory until a child is seven. Saskatchewan’s different district school boards are responsible for creating the school boundaries and generally students can only attend a school in the area where they live. Sometimes schools will admit children from outside the catchment area if there is space available. However, you would have to fill out a school enrollment exemption application form to apply. Families can register their child at a school at any time during the school year. New arrivals to Canada may be required to register through the school board’s Welcome Centre.
Information required to register your child for school:
- Proof of age and identity, such as a birth certificate or passport
- Proof of residency in the province, such as a utility bill or lease agreement
- Proof of immigration status, such as Permanent Resident Card, Confirmation of Permanent Residence, or Record of Landing
- Official translation of school records
- Baptism certificate (if you are applying for a Catholic school)
If any of your documents are not in English or French, you will be required to submit a certified translation of these documents.
|School aged children must be immunized against diseases before starting school. Consult the Saskatchewan immunization schedule to stay up-to-date on your child’s requirements. For more information, see Family Health 101: What newcomer’s should know.|
Steps to enroll your child in a school in Saskatchewan:
- Visit the local school board corresponding to your catchment school to follow the directions to register your child online.
- Students who are not Canadian citizens may have to register at a nearest Newcomer Centre.
- Fill in an application form which contains information about your child, home address, medical information, heritage information, parent or guardian and emergency contacts.
- Provide proof of your child’s ID and proof of residency and copy of immunization record as part of your application.
- For Canadian citizens, completed applications can be emailed or dropped off at the school.
- For high school, your child will meet with a guidance counsellor to discuss their previous schooling and career goals. They will also help your child choose school courses.
Provide new teachers or an assessment centre with previous report cards to help them understand what your child has already learned.
In Saskatchewan, you do not have to show proof of vaccinations to enrol your child in school.
If you need help, there are newcomer agencies in your area that can help you register your child for school or help you find an interpreter.
While public education in Saskatchewan is free, there will still be some school-related expenses you should budget for. They include:
Before and after school programs
Many schools in Saskatchewan offer before and after school programs for children aged between four and 12 where there is sufficient demand. They are usually run out of the school by third parties, such as the YMCA or Boys & Girls Clubs. The cost of these programs vary and are generally in the range of $17-$25 CAD per day.
Children are usually required to bring basic stationary school supplies when they start a new grade or school year. Typically, schools will provide a list of required items (e.g. pencils, pencil crayons, sharpener, ruler, calculator, glue stick). You may also have to purchase a lunchbox, water bottle, backpack, and gym shoes for your child. Textbooks are provided by the school for free and are returned at the end of the semester or school year. Some schools may also provide assistive technology to students who require additional support (e.g. access to a Chromebook).
While most public schools don’t have a school uniform, there may still be a dress code that describes what students may and may not wear to school. Typically, private schools do require a uniform and the cost varies. Catholic schools also usually require students to wear a uniform, which you are expected to pay for. The school would provide information on where to purchase a uniform for your child.
Many areas in Saskatchewan provide school bus transportation for elementary school students. However, students residing in established transportation zones only are eligible. Students in high school who live in a larger city may be expected to catch public transit to travel to and from school. In this case, you would need to factor the cost of public transit into your budget.
Field trips are often organized by schools for students to visit places that are relevant to their education. They include places such as museums, cultural institutions, and outdoor activities. There is usually a cost involved in participating. Older children may also have the opportunity to participate in overnight camps or trips away with the school and there will be a cost involved to cover transportation and accommodation. The school may be able to provide financial support for parents who require it.
Fundraising is common in most Ontario Schools. Typical fundraising activities include pizza lunches, book fairs, bake sales, or holiday gift sales. The amount parents could expect to spend over a school year on fundraising activities ranges greatly and can be as much more than $200 CAD per year. The money raised is usually used to fund school trips, purchase new technology or add learning resources.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with Saskatchewan’s education system before settling in the province. That way you’ll be aware of your school choices, have the right paperwork ready and set your child on a path to success!