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Q: I have two children I need to enrol in elementary and secondary schools. Can you tell me how I go about that and what documents I will need?

A: For information on enrolling your child in the public school system, contact the school board in the district in which you live or simply go to the school nearest your residence (see the link below for more information).

If the school is unable to accept your child for whatever reason, you will be directed to the appropriate authority. Generally, elementary and middle school children, those attending Kindergarten to Grade 7 or 8, will be enrolled in the school nearest to their home — although in some regions, students will need to take buses to school.

It may be necessary for your child to be tested for his or her language and math skills before being placed in a class. Feel free to discuss the placement with your child’s teacher or guidance counsellor.

The following documents may be required to enrol your child and ensure he or she is placed in the appropriate class:

  • birth certificate
  • immigration landing papers
  • passport
  • health (medical) and immunization records
  • all previous school records and transcripts

Secondary school students (Grades 9 to 12) may be enrolled at the school nearest their home or they may, for a variety of reasons ranging from special sports interests to particular academic interests, want or need to attend a school in another neighbourhood. Again, the school board responsible for your municipality will be able to provide you with direction to the most appropriate school.

Q. I am a single parent recently arrived in Ottawa from Germany. My child has a learning disability and I am wondering if you know about what the school system provides for children with such needs?

A: The Canadian education system guarantees an education to all children, including children with various disabilities, such as sight and hearing impairments as well as other difficulties that may affect their ability to learn. Such children are frequently referred to as “special needs children.” Depending on individual needs, children will either be integrated into regular classrooms and provided with additional help or placed into special classes or schools. ESL assistance may also be provided. Your school board will be able to help you find the appropriate school and class for your children, in accordance with their needs.