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Canadian education: grade levels

A comparison of the Canadian, American, British, German, and Polish grade level systems

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The education system in Canada is an interesting one. And it continues to evolve.

Below, we outline the different grade levels, and years of compulsory education, in Canada. We also compare the Canadian grade level system to that of five other countries—Poland, the United States, Britain, France, and Germany. 

For each country, we highlight the years of compulsory education in blue.

Canada’s grade levels compared to other countries

Starting age

Canada

United States

Britain

France

Germany

Poland

0+

Nursery

Nursery

Nursery

 

Kinderkrippe

Żłobek

3-4

Preschool

Preschool

Nursery

Petite section

Kindergarten

Przedszkola

4-5

Junior kindergarten

Preschool

Reception

Moyenne section

Kindergarten

Przedszkola

5-6

Senior kindergarten

Kindergarten

Year 1

Grande section

Kindergarten

Zierowka

6-7

Grade 1

Grade 1

Year 2

Cours préparatoire

Grundschule

Klasa 1

7-8

Grade 2

Grade 2

Year 3

Cours élémentaire première année

Grundschule

Klasa 2

8-9

Grade 3

Grade 3

Year 4

Cours élémentaire deuxième année

Grundschule

Klasa 3

9-10

Grade 4

Grade 4

Year 5

Cours moyen première année

Grundschule

Klasa 4

10-11

Grade 5

Grade 5

Year 6

Course moyen deuxième année

Hauptschule

Klasa 5

11-12

Grade 6

Grade 6

Year 7

Sixième

Hauptschule

Klasa 6 (Gimnazyam 1)

12-13

Grade 7

Grade 7

Year 8

Cinquième

Hauptschule

Klasa 7 (Gimnazyam 2)

13-14

Grade 8

Grade 8

Year 9

Quatrième

Hauptschule

Klasa 8 (Gimnazyam 3)

14-15

Grade 9

Grade 9

Year 10

Troisième

Hauptschule

Liceum 1

15-16

Grade 10

Grade 10

Year 11

Seconde

Hauptschule

Liceum 2

16-17

Grade 11

Grade 11

Year 12

Première

Höhere Handelsschule

Liceum 3

17-18

Grade 12

Grade 12

Year 13

Terminale

 

Liceum 4

More on Canadian grade levels versus other countries

In Canada, students are required to go to school for at least 10 years. Like the US, school attendance in Canada is compulsory from grade 1 until at least grade 10. In some Canadian provinces and US states, though, students are required to complete high school, right through to the end of grade 12. If you're interested in the grade structures of Canada's 12 provinces, read our guide.

Poland

Poland is unique in that has only has 9 years of required education. Compulsory education in Poland starts at the age of 6, at the so-called zero year (zierowka) or grade zero and ends at the age of 14—the equivalent to grade 8 in many countries.

Britain

In Britain (and all of the UK), compulsory education is 10 years, like Canada and the United States. Children must attend school from the reception year (right before year 1) until year 9. In France and Germany, meanwhile, compulsory education runs 9 years, the North American equivalent of grade 1 to 9.

Germany

Also, in Germany, students, at age 12, can attend Realschule, Mittelschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule, instead of Hauptschule. Each of these types of secondary school has a different focus and grade range.

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