Education in Canada
1. Who is in charge of education in Canada?
School education in Canada is administered by provincial and territorial Governments; most cities and towns have school boards. There are free public schools, which are financed by the government and paid private schools. There are also religious schools. Catholic schools are free because they are provided with government funding as part of a long tradition. In Toronto, there are two school boards: the Toronto district school board (TDSB) and the Toronto catholic district school board (TCDSB). The addresses and telephone numbers of school boards and schools can be found in the phone book, on the Internet, or by asking organizations serving immigrants.
Source: Education https://settlement.org/ontario/education/
2. Who are school trustees?
School trustees are elected by the population of districts once in 4 years during municipal elections. They represent the interests of society, parents and students and supervise organizational and financial activities of the public schools in accordance with the Education Act of Canada. School trustees are usually involved in various committees dealing with school education and training and, in particular, are involved in the resolution of school conflicts. You can contact the school trustees with a complaint, question or suggestion.
Source: How can I contact a school, school board or trustee in my area? www.settlement.org/sys/faqs_detail.asp?k=ELEMSEC_INFO&faq_id=4001210.
3. How do Canadian schools work?
All children in Canada aged 5-6 to 16-18 must attend school depending on the province or territory in which they live. The main principle of Canadian schools is that every student gets a formal Canadian education. If a student wants to study more, they will always have the opportunity in school and when taking post-secondary education. In secondary school, students can choose several courses, taking into account where they will be going after graduation: immediately to work (about 50% of graduates of Canadian schools go directly to work), or continued study in a post-secondary institution. A child’s success in his or her studies is not defined by comparing his or her abilities with other students, but by the progress they have made compared to where they were previously.
4. Who helps children of immigrants adapt to a new country?
Canadian schools accept all children, regardless of their parents' immigration status, but if the child or his parents has no status in Canada, their studies may not be free. In case of a refusal to admit your child to a school seek advice from a lawyer. Some schools have counsellors who help immigrant children to adapt to Canada; they are called Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS). They help immigrant children and their families settle in a new country, find essential information and introduce school programs for immigrants. If necessary, you may ask for an interpreter for conversations with school settlement workers. In Ontario, children have the right to attend school even if they or their parents do not have immigration status in Canada.
Sources: Newcomers' Guides to Education
5. What is a school board?
In most schools there are school boards, whose members include parents, students, teachers, representatives of public organizations, school trustees. The school board meets regularly to discuss important issues of school life and makes suggestions for improving the work of schools for the city's board of education. School board meetings usually open for parents whose children attend the school. In large schools there are often parent councils and student councils, the purpose of which is to discuss current school issues and find ways to improve school activities.
Source: School Councils
6. How can parents participate in school life?
All schools welcome parental involvement in school life as volunteers. If you want to participate in school life, ask the school management about the options available to you. You can accompany the students during field trips, outings, hiking excursions and travel.
Schools regularly host sporting events, parties, quizzes, presentations and other activities of school organizations to which parents are invited. You can keep order at recess, serve children's meals in the school cafeteria, read aloud in schools with extended day, etc. A lot will depend on your initiative.
Source: Stay involved in your child’s education
7. At what age is children's behaviour governed by Canadian law?
In Canada, there are many legal provisions relating to children and young people; these rules can be found on the website www.jfcy.org. Here you get answers to such questions as:
•What are the coercive measures applied to a teenager who has dropped out of school.
•Can I refuse the school which was chosen for my child by the department of education?
•What to do if my child is expelled from school.
•At what age and with whom is sexual activity permitted, and others.
This site also provides a forum to ask questions on legal issues related to school-age children.
In particular, you should be aware that a violation of school rules by children under 14 years age will be met with administrative punishment, and after that age can be considered criminal; people under 16 are not allowed to be outside the home without permission from 12 am to 6 am; if over 16 years, your son or daughter has the right to leave school and start work and leave home as well, and at 18 years, youth are responsible for their actions as adults.
Source: Has your child been charged with a crime?
8. Can schoolchildren be expelled from school?
Canadian schools are provided with disciplinary measures on violators of school discipline. This often involves student suspension from the school for a period from one to twenty days. During this period, the student must study independently; however, teachers can help. As a last step, violators may be expelled from school. The reasons for expulsion from school may be possession or carrying of weapons, committing physical or sexual violence, trafficking in arms or drugs, robbery, providing alcohol to younger students, etc. The decision to expel a student from the school is made by the schoolboard in the presence of the student and his or her parents. The expelled student may transfer to another school or enrol in a special program.
Source: Understanding the Safe Schools Act
9. Are there programs in schools for children with special needs?
If parents see that their child has difficulties absorbing the curriculum and the teacher tells them the same, parents can ask about the possibility of special education. There are tests that can be used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your child that will help to develop an individual training plan, which may include the following components:
•Using extra time for training or examination.
•Using special premises, equipment and teaching aids.
•Developing individual plans and teaching methods.
•Involving experts to work with troubled children.
•Making regular assessment of student performance in order to select the most effective training program.
•Studying in a special school.
The decision about special education for school students is made by the Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), with the participation of parents and teachers. There is no fee involved for the special education required. If you do not agree with the decision of the IPRC, you can report it to the supervisory authority.
Sources: Special Education www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/parents/speced.html.
(To be continued)