Frequently Asked Questions by Parents and Guardians
Q. How old must my child be to attend Primary?
A: Your child must be five years old, on or before December 31 to be eligible to attend public school during that school year.
Q: Who do I call to find out about before and after school programs?
A: You should first call the school principal to get information about which programs the school offers. If a program if offered by an external group, the principal will provide you with contact information for the group offering the services. If the principal is not available, the school secretary may be able to provide you with this information.
The HRSB operates the EXCEL Child Care program in many of its schools. For more information on EXCEL, click here.
Q: Why are combined classes formed at some schools?
A: Sometimes high student enrollments in a given grade or teacher allocations means students from two or more consecutive grade levels are combined into one class. The class teacher instructs the children using strategies that allow them to learn the outcomes as stated in the provincial Public School Program for the particular grade level.
The Halifax Regional School Board and the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development support the formation of combined classes.
Q: How do I enroll my child in a French Immersion program?
A: You can find information on French Immersion on the following page (link).
Q: Are there any programs for Four-Year-Olds?
A: The Halifax Regional School Board does offer the Early Learning Opportunities program to children who live within the boundaries of the following schools:
- Harbour View
- Joseph Howe
- Nelson Whynder
- Rockingstone Heights
- South Woodside
To be eligible to attend, children must be four-years-old on or before December 31 of the current school year.
Q: How can I register my child at a school other than my neighbourhood school?
A: You can apply under board policy B.028 Student Registration Policy, to place your child at a school outside your neighbourhood. To do that, you must:
- Pick up an Out-of-Area request form from the principal at your neighbourhood school
- Fill out this form and have it signed by your neighbourhood school principal.
- Give the signed form to the principal at the school you want your child to attend.
The receiving school principal makes the decision based on student enrollment, the makeup of the receiving class and available school resources.
If your child is accepted at another school, you are responsible for their transportation to and from school. For more information, read policy B.028 Student Registration Policy - (Procedures - Section 15.0.)
Q: How do I approach the school when I have concerns?
A: First, you should contact the school staff member who is directly involved, and meet with them at a mutually agreed upon time to talk about your problem. If your concern is not resolved after that meeting, you should call the principal. The principal will work with you and the other party to settle the issue.
If you still are not satisfied, then you can contact the School Administration Supervisor who will investigate your complaint. If the matter cannot be resolved by the above steps, the board has a Parent Concern Protocol which provides a reporting form to lodge a formal complaint. The written complaint is sent to the School Administration Department for further investigation and action.
Q: How long will I wait for a response to my concern?
A: Generally, you will only have to wait 48 hours for a response from a teacher or administrator after you make the first call. How long it will take to resolve the problem will vary depending on the nature of the concern.
Q: Who can I call if I'm having difficulty meeting the financial requests of the school for supplies, field trips, extracurricular programs, athletic teams, etc.?
A: You should call the principal first. They may ask the circumstances of your financial difficulties in order to make a decision to waive fees or school-related expenses.
More Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I become a volunteer at my child's school?
A: You should contact your child's principal for information. In elementary schools, you sometimes can speak directly to your child's teacher to find ways of helping out in class. Please note that you will be subject to a Criminal Records Check, as well as screening for the Child Abuse Registry.
Q: If my child is having conflict or being harassed in any way, what do I do? How do I get help if other students are harassing my child on the way to school?
A: All students have the right attend a safe, respectful and inclusive school. If your child your child is experiencing harassment, you should report it immediately to the school.
Q: What can I do if I don't agree with a suspension of my child of ten (10) days or less?
A: You can request a review of the suspension under Section 123(2) of the provincial Education Act. To do so, you must notify the school principal, in writing, within three days of receiving the Notice of Suspension. For more information, click here.
The request for review should clearly state why the suspension should be reviewed and any additional information that the School Discipline Committee should consider in the course of its review. The review is conducted by a subcommittee of the School Advisory Council (School Discipline Committee) and is based on written information the Committee receives from you or your child, and the school.
The School Discipline Committee will confirm or revoke the suspension. In cases where the suspension is withdrawn, the suspension is removed from the student's record.
Q: What can I do if I don't agree with the suspension of my child for more than ten (10) days?
A: You may request an appeal of this suspension under Section 124(7) of the Education Act. You must submit notice to appeal in writing to the school board through the office of the Superintendent within seven days of receiving the notice from the School Discipline Committee. For more information, click here.
A committee of the school board will conduct the appeal within 10 days of receiving the appeal notice. This committee will confirm, revoke or vary the suspension. You and your child have the right to appear in person at the appeal with or without counsel.
Q: If my child is suspended from school, will the school provide work to be completed at home?
A: Yes, schoolwork will be given to your child to do at home. The school is responsible to make every reasonable effort to continue supporting your child's learning. The school will consult with you to make the necessary arrangements.
Q: Where can I find information on curriculum outcomes used by my child's teacher?
A: You should discuss any curriculum questions with your child's teacher. You should also attend Curriculum Night and Parent Visitation sessions at your child's school. The Department of Education's web site also contains a wealth of information (link).
Q: If I wish to see my child's school file, how do I make the request?
A: You can call your child's principal and ask for a time to review their cumulative record card. If your child is in junior or senior high school, you can call the guidance counsellor.
Q: How do I have a positive meeting with the school principal/teacher?
A: First, you should call the school and set up a meeting with the principal or teacher. This way everyone will know what the meeting is about, and who will be attending it. The advance notice will give the school time to collect relevant information, or to invite staff members who have information you might want.
Before the meeting, you should jot down a few notes of the key points you want to make. That will help you keep the conversation on track, and get the answers you want. You should keep an open mind and positive attitude. You can expect all staff members to have the same attitude, and to be welcoming toward you. Remember, everyone has the same goal: to support the student.
Q: How can I make the best use of Parent-Teacher Visitation?
A: You have just 10 or 15 minutes with your child's teacher to find out how they are doing in school. You can talk about your child's strengths, as well as where they may need help. If you feel you need more time, you should ask the teacher for an appointment at a later date.
Q: Do I have the right to have an advocate help me in my dealings with the school?
A: Yes, but you should provide prior notice to the school that you will be bringing an advocate with you to a pre-scheduled school meeting. You should tell the school who that person is and the name of the organization, if any, they are representing.
In that meeting, the principal, teachers, and school staff will address you directly when discussing school related information about your child. The advocate is there to support you. The school board may have a lawyer attend the meeting, if you choose to retain a lawyer as your advocate.
Q: Can I visit my child's classroom as an observer?
A: Yes. The principal can invite you, or you can ask for a visit to see how your child performs in the classroom. To request a visit, call the school principal to discuss the purpose of the visit and possible arrangements that can be made. Classroom visits are meant to give you insight into your child's academic success and/or behaviour. It can lead to discussions with teachers and staff of how to enhance your child's learning experience.
Q: How can I contact a circuit teacher with a concern?
A: You should call the main office at your child's school, and leave your contact numbers - both home and office phone numbers. The school secretary, who knows the circuit teacher's schedule, can tell you when they will be back at the school. If you don't hear from the teacher within 48 hours, then call the school's administration.
Q: Who can I call if I want to get some counselling for my child?
A: Your first call should go to your child's school principal. The principal might call on the school guidance counsellor, if there is one, to help. The principal might also involve the school psychologist, with your written consent.
Q: If I need help reading or writing correspondence to or from the school, how can I get it?
A: You should contact the principal, and arrangements to assist you will be made in a very confidential manner.
Q: How can I find out about future career paths for my child, and the criteria to reach these goals?
A: All junior and senior high schools have qualified guidance counsellors who have expertise in career planning. You can contact the guidance counsellor at your child's school to get the necessary information such as prerequisites for particular colleges and universities or other post-secondary programs. Most institutions also have websites.
Q: When should I contact my school if I am registering my child with special needs?
There is no specific time frame, but the earlier, the better. The sooner a principal knows a child who may need special support is coming to their school, the better prepared the school can be for your child's arrival.
Advance notice gives the school time to meet with you to learn more about your child so the transition will be successful. Registration for the new school year takes place during February. If your child is changing school in mid-term, you should contact the school as soon as possible.
Q: How do I participate in program planning for my child with special needs?
A: The school will ensure that you are included because parents are an important part of the program planning process, that also includes cooperation with appropriate staff. All parties will have input into an Individual Program Plan, based on your child's strengths and needs. You can read the HRSB Special Education policy by clicking here.
What should I do if I disagree with my child's mark?
You must contact your child's teacher who will give you the assessments on which the mark was based. Assessment and evaluation of students is based on the achievement of curriculum outcomes prescribed by the Nova Scotia Department of Education.
If you can't resolve the disagreement with the teacher, you should then contact the principal. The principal will review the assessment and evaluation information provided by you and the teacher. The principal will make the final determination of the mark. You can read the HRSB's Student Assessment policy by clicking here.
Q: Who do I phone if I want to request extra academic help-support for my child?
A: Call your child's classroom teacher first. They will will give you information with respect to your child's academic needs. The school may find it necessary to call a Program Planning meeting to consult with the teacher and other school professionals in order to take advantage of the support available to the school.
Q: Who do I contact if I'm concerned about my child's transition to the next school level?
A: You should contact your child's current principal, or the principal at your child's new school, for direction and support.
Q: What should I do if I disagree with my child's grade placement?
You should contact your school principal, who in consultation with you and appropriate school staff, will make the final determination of grade placement for the following year. Assessment and evaluation is one of the duties of teachers, as stated in the Nova Scotia Education Act. A part of that is determining grade placement.
Q: How do I register my child with the province for home schooling?
A: Information on Home Education Schooling can be found in Sections 128 and 129 of the provincial Education Act, and on the Nova Scotia Department of Education website. To learn more, click here.
Q: What is the role of elected school board members?
A: They are elected to provide direction of policy within the board to ensure that the school system is operating as it should.
- Individually, board members cannot alter or circumvent policy but, as part of the team, they can make recommendations for changes in policy and procedures.
- When a parent contacts a board member, the board member can provide advice on the policies and what steps the parent can take to bring the situation to resolution.
- Board members may refer the concern to the superintendent who will have a member of the board's professional staff assist parents with the resolution of the issue.
- If parents need someone to attend a meeting as support, they can bring a friend or advocate along as support. This is not the role for the board member.
- Although the board member will not attend parent meetings at the school level, they will be monitoring parental concerns.
- If a policy needs to be introduced, reviewed or changed to better meet the needs of all students, they will be able to bring forth motions for change if required and provide the best advice to the board when necessary.