K-12 School Options in Alberta

Relocating to a brand new city is a massive (yet exciting) event that takes weeks, and even months of planning. Anyone who relocates to Alberta has lots of work to do, but if you are coming with children, you may feel stressed about their education. Naturally, your children’s schooling is a top priority, and so you probably have some questions about how Alberta’s school system compares and measures up to your home countries. To start, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with school options available here.

The Alberta School System tends to rank highly amongst the provinces, usually as one of the top three performers. School in Alberta is a requirement for every child from age six to 16 years of age, but options are available for those from age four-and-a-half to 19 years. In Canada, public schools are not controlled of funded by the federal government. Instead state-funded schools are run by local school authorities – and there are quite a lot of variety.

It’s important understand Alberta school system and its options before you decide which Edmonton or Calgary neighborhood is best for you. Here’s the basic lowdown on K-12 school options in Alberta.

Public School Options in Alberta

School Options in Alberta


While in Alberta, your children are not required to attend a public school within your district, it can be difficult to get into one outside your district, as your child’s enrollment will be continent upon the space available in the school and whether or not there is viable and reliable transportation (this is not the case for private schools).

The public school system in Alberta has a lot of variety. Your children may be able to receive their K-12 education in English Public Schools, Francophone Public Schools, or Separate (Catholic Schools). There are also charter school options.

  • English Public Schooling is available throughout the province, and any child is permitted to attend. There are currently 42 public school jurisdictions in the province, and they are located all over the province, so you should have no problems with accessibility. These schools, like other provincially-funded schools, follow the Program of Studies and curriculum approved by the Government of Alberta.
  • Separate Schools are less common in Alberta. Currently, there are 17 separate school districts across the state. These schools exist based on a constitutional right that allows Roman Catholic and Protestant education to exist publicly, and separately from other non-religious schools. These schools provide the same basic education as public school as well as religious studies. All but two of the province’s separate schools are Roman Catholic, the others are Protestant.  
  • Francophone School Districts are even less common, but an important part of the Alberta school system. These education authorities were created in response to the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which grants the right for students whose parents are first-language French Speakers.  At the five Francophone School authorities across the state, students receive all their education in French, and Francophone culture is fostered, studied and developed. The Government of Alberta is not required to provide Francophone education all over the state – but in places that have high enough numbers of Francophone communities.
  • Charter Schools are innovative educational institutions that programs of study approved by Alberta Education, and work towards the diploma exams in grade 12, teaching methods and learning environments can be enhanced, innovative, and even experimental. Often, these schools focus on a specific subject of expertise, like the arts or science, and they have more autonomy than other schools. Programs are available for gifted students, indigenous students, female students, English as a Second Language (ESL) students and others. Charter schools do not report to a school board, but directly to the province. 

Private School Options in Alberta

School Options in Alberta

Alberta has a large network of private schools that are tuition based. They are often associated with a religious faith. However, some are alternative, focusing on an academic, artistic or athletic specialty, and others are international schools. Many parents are attracted to the private school system due to its high quality programs, activities and equipment, regardless of it being secular or non-secular. Some private schools receive a small amount of government funding per student, however the majority of the sometimes costly tuition (from $5,000 to $50,000 per year) is covered by parents.

If you are thinking about enrolling your child in a private school, one of the most important things to understand is the distinction between registered private schools and accredited private schools.  

  • Registered private schools meet the basic registration requirements established by the Minister of Education, though the are not eligible for Alberta Education funding. They are also are not obliged to teach the Alberta Programs of Study. They are, on the other hand, required to have educational outcomes that are in line with The Ministerial Order on Student Learning.   Instructors at these institutions are not required to have Alberta Teaching Certificates.
  • Accredited Private Schools are accredited by the Minister of Education, and they seek additional recognition beyond basic registration to receive accredited status.  The three categories of accredited private schools include accredited non-funded, accredited funded, and designated special education private schools.

To learn more about private school options in Alberta, see the Ministry of Education website.

How to Enroll:

To enroll your child in public schoolcontact the school board of your area to find out where and how to register. The school board can also inform you about the school’s language requirements and special pedagogical projects (environment, music, arts, science, language, etc). They are also your best resource if your child has a handicap or special need that needs to be taken into account when selecting a school.

In order to enroll, you will most likely need proof of your child’s birth (a birth certificate or passport), proof of address (telephone or electric bill, signed lease, bank statement, etc.) proof of guardianship (if the child is younger than 18 years and not living with his or her parent(s), and proof of health and immunization. You should also bring prior school transcripts and other immigration documents. There will likely be a registration for to fill out as well.

If you want to enroll your child in private schools or charter schools, go directly to the schools’ websites. Some private schools have long waiting lists, and the registration procedures can start up to a year in advance.

We hope this information about K-12 school options in Alberta helps make your decision a little more clear. Remember, there is no one right choice when it comes to your children’s education – it’s a personal decision that is unique for each family. If you want more help discovering the neighborhoods with the best school in Edmonton or Calgary, Alberta, sign up for Settle-in.com’s online relocation platform and make use of our interactive “Find a Neighborhood” search tool!

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(Photos: K.W. BarrettBrad FlickingerEaglebrookSchool)

About Yaolin

It wasn’t easy for my parents to relocate from China to Canada. But they worked hard and made their new country into a real home for us. Thanks to their groundwork, my siblings and I received a great education and lots of opportunity. As an adult, I have been able to open up a real estate agency, raise a loving family, and help others tackle their own relocations so they could comfortably settle into their surroundings. Here at Settle-in.com, our goal is share our knowledge and understanding of the relocation process so you can realize your dreams, just like I did. // La relocalisation de la Chine au Canada n’a pas été facile pour mes parents. Mais ils ont travaillé dur et ont vraiment fait de leur nouveau pays notre maison. Grâce à leur travail, mes frères et soeurs et moi avons reçu une bonne éducation et beaucoup d’opportunités. A l’âge adulte, j’ai pu ouvrir ma propre agence immobilière, élever une adorable famille et maintenant je suis heureux de pouvoir aider les autres dans leur propre relocalisation. Chez Settle-in.com, notre objectif est de partager nos connaissances, notre compréhension du processus de relocalisation afin que vous puissiez aussi réaliser vos rêves comme je l’ai fait.