Relocating to a new city like Ottawa is already a complex process, but it can be made even more difficult if you’re also looking into schools for your children. It can be especially challenging when you’re looking for French-speaking schools in an English-speaking province.

Across the province of Ontario there are 455 French-language schools, including elementary and secondary schools, and public and Catholic (private) institutions. However, in the city of Ottawa there are only 28 French-language schools, of which only seven are secondary schools. You can find a list of these schools on the Ontario Government website. In any of these French-language schools, all teaching is done exclusively in French, apart from dedicated English-language classes.

There are two French school boards operating in Ottawa:

As an alternative to a sending your children to a French-speaking school, there is an option to send your children to an English-speaking school that teaches French. There are 88 schools listed in Ottawa that fall under this category, in which French is taught at varying levels:

  • Core French: French is learnt by students as a subject
  • Extended French: French is learnt by students as a subject, and it is the language of instruction in at least one further subject
  • French Immersion: French is learnt by students as a subject, and it is the language of instruction in at least two further subjects

Whether you decide to send your children to a fully French-speaking school or to an English-speaking school offering French Immersion, there are many different options to consider in terms of your child’s French education. This decision is something only you and your children can make, based on your children’s first language, and even on the main language you/they wish to immerse themselves in and improve moving forwards.

Across all schools, both French and English, primary and secondary, the city of Ottawa provides high quality services such as: public school transportation; help with homework; follow up for special needs students; and help for international families. If you need special assistance or have questions about support, it is also worth getting in touch with your school board who are there to help.

In most schools, classes usually begin at 9am, and finish at around 3.30pm. Schools across the board will offer core programs including mathematics, sciences, literature, history, geography, English and other languages, as well as arts subjects and physical education. Many schools will also offer after-school activities such as sports (hockey, football, basketball, soccer) and arts programs (art, music, drama).

Additional Resources

Check out some of our other articles on education in Canada to learn more.