Ottawa Schools 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Schools and School Districts in Ottawa

Ottawa, Ontario, offers a diverse range of schools and school districts. Current residents and homebuyers considering moving to Ottawa can benefit from an in-depth look at the city's educational landscape, exploring various school districts and their unique attributes. From public to private institutions, Ottawa's schools are known for their commitment to holistic student development. Whether seeking specialized programs or the school closest to home, navigating the educational choices available in the city of Ottawa ensures students can make informed decisions about their educational journey.

Public School Districts Serving Ottawa (English Language)

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), headquartered in the Craig Henry neighbourhood, is the public English-language district in Ottawa. The district administers 117 elementary schools and another 25 secondary schools in Ottawa. The district's School Locator website is the easiest way to figure out which public school a child is assigned to attend. 

While this is an English-language district, the schools in the OCDSB provide early, middle, and late French Immersion to all students. The schools also have a program for gifted students, and the secondary schools include some alternative sites and an adult high school.

The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) is the other English-language district in the city. Based in the heart of Nepean—widely considered one of Ottawa's best suburbs—this district operates 84 Catholic public schools in the Ottawa area. That includes 17 high schools. The OCSB is recognized as a school district for the concept of "Deep Learning" in the classroom, where students are taught in such a way that they can easily adapt to future technologies and careers that might not even exist yet. French Immersion is also available at all grade levels in the OCSB. 

Public School Districts Serving Ottawa (French Language)

French Language Schools in Ottawa, ON

Ottawa is a truly bilingual city with two French-language public school districts. One is secular, and one is Catholic, as follows. 

The Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario, commonly known as the CEPEO, is the secular public French-language district in the city. This district administers 20 elementary schools in Ottawa, three intermediate/secondary schools, and 13 secondary schools, and it's based just south of the Urbandale neighbourhood.

In Ottawa's English and French school districts, elementary schools cover pre-kindergarten through Grade 6 students. The secondary schools cover Grades 7–12. The same grade levels apply in the English- and French-Catholic school districts. 

Ontario's elementary and secondary French-language schools provide high-level science and technology programs for all students. These areas encompass the following to prepare students for success at the college and university level:

  • Aviation and aerospace
  • Information and communications technology
  • Manufacturing
  • STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)
  • Engineering and Robotics

The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) is the Catholic French-language school district in Ottawa. This district operates 41 elementary schools, 10 high schools, and an adult high school from its offices located adjacent to the Cyrville neighbourhood. CECCE has approximately 21,000 students enrolled each year. This district also allows a highly concentrated curriculum for students who want to pursue careers in the following:

  • Design
  • Fabrication
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
  • Aviation and Aerospace

The high schools in CECCE are also International Baccalaureate schools.

Ottawa Private Schools

Residents who prefer a private school education have plenty of options in Ottawa. Ashbury College is a private day school and boarding school in the Rockliffe Park neighbourhood that has been in operation since 1891. The junior school at Ashbury accepts 150 students each year in Grades 4–8. The senior school accepts 550 students in Grades 9–12, which includes 108 foreign exchange students from approximately 30 different countries. Ashbury also offers an International Baccalaureate Bilingual Diploma. 

The Elmwood School is a private girls-only day school in Ottawa, serving students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. It allows 400 students to enroll each year and has a student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1. More than half of the school's graduates go on to pursue STEM degrees.

Lycée Claudel d'Ottawa is a French-language private school with an annual enrollment of 1,000 students. Located in the picturesque Riverview community, it's a co-ed school serving pre-kindergarten through high school students. Several students who attended this school have won World French Language trophies.

The Turnbull School—located in Ottawa's Carlington neighbourhood—is a private, non-denominational school that enrolls students from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. It has won Green School awards in recent years for its projects involving composting, recycling, and other green initiatives.

March Academy is a small private school located in the South March area in the suburb of Kanata. It serves students in Grades 1–8. March Academy also offers extended support to its graduates as they transition to high school. It has a student-teacher ratio of 8:1, and many classes are multi-aged based on students' abilities. 

Colleges & Universities Near Ottawa

As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa has several well-known colleges and universities for students to attend. The University of Ottawa is a bilingual (French and English) public research university located adjacent to Downtown Ottawa. Nearly 50,000 students enroll in UO each year, including about 9,000 students who are completing post-graduate degrees. It is the largest English-French university in the world, and approximately 10,000 students from overseas come to Ottawa to attend this school. Engineering, health sciences, law, and social sciences are the most popular degree programs within the school.

Carleton University is another well-regarded public research university located in the area of many of Ottawa's luxury homes. Around 28,000 students enroll in its undergrad programs each year, and another 4,000 attend for post-graduate studies. Carleton, directly adjacent to the picturesque Civic Hospital area, is well regarded for its programs in engineering, architecture, journalism, and international business. Notable Canadian alums include the late ABC News anchor Peter Jennings and actor Dan Akroyd.

For native French speakers, Collège La Cité is one of the main choices in Ottawa's Gloucester suburb. This is the largest French-language college in Ontario, with a student body of approximately 5,000 undergraduates attending its Carson Grove neighbourhood campus. It offers 90 certificate programs in professional trades like construction and the automotive industry. It also offers a bachelor's degree in biotechnology. 

Ottawa's Educational Landscape

Ottawa's schools and school districts stand out for their commitment to quality education and wide-ranging offerings. From innovative teaching methods to extracurricular opportunities, these institutions—which can be found in each of Ottawa's best neighbourhoods—cater to a broad spectrum of student needs and aspirations. For families and students considering educational options in Ottawa, the city's schools represent a rich variety of learning environments, each contributing to the overall vibrancy of Canada's capital.

Thinking about moving to Ottawa? Contact MetroCity Property Group of eXp Realty at (613) 733-9494 to reach a local real estate agent who can help you find your Ottawa dream home today.

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