Home > Learning > Elementary and Secondary School

Elementary and Secondary School

Ontario law requires all children aged 6 to 18 to attend school, even if they or their parents do not have permanent status in Canada.

The Ministry of Education is responsible for providing elementary and secondary education in Ontario. The province is divided into local school boards. In Peterborough, there are three publicly funded school boards:

young boy using an interactive display in a nature centre

These school boards operate more than 30 elementary and secondary schools in the City of Peterborough. All of these schools are free to attend and open to people of all faith. The public schools are non-denominational, while Catholic schools offer education through a Catholic lens.

Full-day kindergarten is available to all of Ontario’s four-and five-year-olds in publicly funded schools. Your child may begin school the year the child turns four. If your child requires English as a second language (ESL) support, notify the school board when registering your child in school.

For additional help, families and students in Peterborough and area schools can connect with a Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) counsellor. They can meet you at neighbourhood schools to help with any settlement needs and concerns you may have.


Preschool (also called nursery school) prepares children for school. It is intended for children who are too young to attend regular schools.

The Government of Ontario supports early childhood education through Ontario Early Years Child and Family Centres. Parents can participate in activities with their children, learn about child development and meet other parents.

A number of private preschools offer services for a fee. It is a good idea to ensure that the preschool is a licensed care provider.

Elementary School

Elementary school refers to Kindergarten and Grades 1-8.

Full-day kindergarten is available to all of Ontario’s four-and five-year-olds in publicly funded schools. Full-day kindergarten is optional. However, research shows that children who participate in full-day early learning programs get a stronger start in school and life. You may enrol your child in Junior Kindergarten (JK) in the year the child turns 4 years old. Students are expected to go to school Monday through Friday, except for holidays.

Students are usually placed in classes with others their own age. Extra help can be provided if it is needed.

After completing Grade 8, a student goes on to secondary school (also known as high school). Elementary graduates are usually 13 or 14 years old.

To find out about a specific elementary school, please contact Peterborough’s school boards.

Secondary School

Secondary school (also known as high school) refers to grades 9-12 and is intended to prepare students for apprenticeship, college, university or the workplace. High-school graduates are usually 17 or 18 years old.

If your child has not attended school in Canada before, they may be assessed for their mathematic and language skills to determine which grade they should be placed in.

At secondary school, students choose an academic course type depending on their goals (e.g. apprenticeship, college, university, workplace). High school teachers and counsellors help students in their academic preparation and provide support for career planning.

Most high schools divide the school year into semesters. The first semester runs from September to January. The second semester runs from February to June.

To find out about a specific secondary school, please contact Peterborough’s school boards.

Mature Students

Students over the age of 18 can pursue their education through the Independent Learning Centre (TVO ILC). Students enrolled with the ILC do not go to classes rather they learn at their own pace through information provided through the ILC website.

Hours of Operation

The school year starts in September and ends in June. Most schools usually operate between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:30 pm Monday to Friday. School schedules will vary from school to school, and may change slightly from year to year. For up-to-date information on school schedules contact Peterborough’s school boards.

After-School Programs

Some public schools offer after-school programs between the hours of 3-6pm for tutoring, sports, clubs, arts programs and other activities. Before-school programs may also be available. Most of these programs are free, but some may charge a fee. Ask your child’s school for details.

School Bus

If you live far away from the school that your child will be attending, your child may ride a school bus. This service is provided free of charge by the school. When you enroll your child in school, the school will arrange this service for you. For more information about student busing in Peterborough, contact Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario.

French Immersion

French Immersion programs offer French language training to children within the English school system. French Immersion is available through both the Public and Catholic school boards. Children of French-speaking parents may attend l’École Élémentaire Catholique Monseigneur-Jamot to receive instruction in French.

International Language Instruction

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board provides international and indigenous language programs beginning in October of each year.  The availability of courses is dependent on the demand for each course. If you would like an international language course offered, you can contact the KPR to discuss the possibility.


A series of immunizations are required for your child to enter and remain in school. For more information on immunization, please contact Peterborough Public Health or read their Immunization Information for Students section.

Registering Your Child

To register your children for school, contact the school board of your choice.

Settlement.Org provides information you should know about enrolling your children in school. The New Canadians Centre can provide you with a list of things to consider when enrolling your children in school.

Home School

Some parents choose to teach their children themselves at home. Home-schooled children are taught a curriculum similar to that of the public system. Further information on homeschooling is available at the following links:

Private School

Some schools, including one for children with learning disabilities, are operated privately, outside the public school system. Some private schools in Peterborough can be found through the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools. These schools charge tuition fees.