Do I have the right to have my education in French?

Ontario has 4 free public school systems where children can go to for elementary and secondary school. These are the:

  • French public system
  • French Catholic System
  • English public system
  • English Catholic system

French language schools exist so that people born in a family that speaks French can go to school in their own language. All classes and meetings are in French. This includes classes, parent-teacher interviews, and school council meetings.

The best school system for your child will depend on your language, religious background, and choice. Contact your local school board for more information about the schools where you live.

French-language schools must accept students whose parents are French-language rights-holders as explained in section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These students have a right to be admitted to a French language school if they apply.

Children whose parents are not French-language rights-holders, can apply to French-language schools, but they may not be admitted. The local school board reviews their application and decides whether to admit them based on the school board's policy.

But your right to go to school in French doesn't mean you have a right to a French school in your neighbourhood. If you're a French-language rights-holder and there is no French school in your area, you may not have the right to insist that a French school be built there.

Instead, the school board may have to:

  • transport your child to a French school in another community
  • provide French-language instruction inside an English school

French-immersion schools

There are also many French-immersion programs in Ontario schools. A French-immersion program is not the same as going to a French-language school. French-immersion schools exist to teach French as a second language. Not all classes are not taught in French. You must apply through your local school board. And even if you're accepted, placement in a specific school is not guaranteed.

Private French schools

You can also send your child to a private or independent school. Private or independent schools don't get government funding, so all students must pay to attend them. And they are not regulated by the Ministry of Education. There are only a few private schools in Ontario that teach only in French, but several private schools offer bilingual or French-immersion programming.

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