Secondary Education in Canada:
A Student Transfer Guide

Time Allotments and Course Load

Revision: 2003 01 01

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British ColumbiaTop

In grades 4 to 10, minimum time allotments, expressed as percentages, are recommended for each required area of study. They suggest the priority that the Ministry expects schools to give to each area of study. It is up to each school to design a timetable appropriate for all students. Variation in the recommended times is encouraged to address the learning needs of individual students and the particular needs of communities.


Junior high

A course in junior high school represents specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes that most students can acquire in the amount of time recommended by the province. It is recognized that some students can acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes specified in a course of studies in less than the recommended time, and that others require more time.

The recommended time allotment (hours per year) for each part of the junior high school program is:

English Language Arts150 hours or more per year
French Language Arts and English Language Arts250 hours or more per year
Français and English Language Arts250 hours or more per year
Mathematics100 hours or more per year
Science100 hours or more per year
Social Studies100 hours or more per year
Physical Education75 hours or more per year
Optional courses150 hours or more per year
Health and Personal Life SkillsHealth and Personal Life Skills is a required course, but it is not necessary to offer this course each year. Therefore, it is recommended that Health and Personal Life Skills be offered for 150 hours or more over the 3 years, grades 7 through 9.
Remainder of timeLocal discretion

Schools shall offer two provincially-authorized optional courses except where instruction in a language other than English is offered, then only one provincially-authorized optional course is required.

Junior high optional courses

Schools are required to offer optional courses since they reinforce outcomes in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; as well, they address knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are not encountered in these subjects. Students should be encouraged to continue in grade 8 and grade 9 with at least one of the optional courses selected in grade 7. The optional courses are categorized as follows:

Aboriginal Languages
  • Blackfoot Language and Culture Program
  • Cree Language and Culture Program
  • Career and Technology Studies: Introductory level courses for all CTS strands are considered appropriate for junior high school students.

    Environmental and Outdoor Education

    Ethics: This course may be offered in grade 7, 8, or 9.

    Fine and Performing Arts: Art, Drama, and/or Music (Choral, General, Instrumental).

    Locally-Developed/Acquired and Locally-Authorized Optional Courses

    Religious Studies: Religious studies may be offered at the discretion of the local school board, under Section 33 of the School Act.

    Second Languages: French, German, Ukrainian.

    French as a Second Language: French as a Second Language (FSL) is a program in which the French language is taught as a subject, often between 30 and 40 minutes a day, to help students develop French-language communication skills, knowledge, and cultural awareness.

    Because French is one of Canada's official languages, Alberta Learning encourages opportunities for all Alberta students to learn French by making available French immersion programs, French second language courses and related services. School boards may begin the program at different grades, because the FSL program is not grade-specific. Many schools begin FSL in grade 4, but others may not start until grade 7 or later. Students entering junior high school may begin their French-language experience, or they may continue developing their language proficiency, depending upon the level they attained in elementary school.

    Other second language courses: The two-year junior high school German program may be offered in any of grade 7, 8, or 9.

    Senior high

    Most senior high school courses are offered for 3, 4, or 5 credits, but some courses may be offered for 10 credits. The new Career and Technology Studies courses are offered for 1 credit.

    Each student must have access to at least 25 hours of instruction per high school credit, and schools are required to ensure that students have access to a minimum of 1,000 hours of instruction per year. Jurisdictions are encouraged to adopt alternatives to the Carnegie time-credit unit organizational model where an alternative would meet the best interests of individual students.

    Instructional time includes time scheduled for purposes of instruction, examinations, and other student activities where direct student-teacher interaction and supervision are maintained.


    Each course at the secondary grade level is assigned a credit value. One credit is equal to approximately 100 hours of classroom instruction.


    The document, A Foundation for Excellence, describes Manitoba's curriculum development process and the revised program requirements being implemented to ensure rigorous and relevant educational content in all subject areas. Revised programs are designed to place greater emphasis on the core subject areas: language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies in grades 1 to 8.

    To obtain feedback on how well the timetabling transition was progressing within the revised program requirements, Manitoba Education and Youth conducted a survey of principals of kindergarten to grade 8 schools on the topic of subject area time allotments (February 1996).

    As a result of the information received, solutions have been identified that will allow schools more flexibility for the purposes of scheduling, timetabling, and staffing. This will assist schools by addressing concerns in the following areas:

    The following modified time allotment tables describe the expectations for the subject area time allotments in the three programs (English, Français, and French Immersion). An overall percentage breakdown is given AS A GUIDELINE ONLY, and reflects a change from the total minutes time commitment to core, compulsory complementary, and optional supplementary subject areas.

    This refinement means that while the emphasis on the core subjects remains intact, instructional leaders will have increased flexibility to arrange timetabling in a manner that suits the composition and specific needs of their school.

    The Department recommends that 70 per cent of instructional time be devoted to compulsory core subjects, as curriculum development, testing, and assessment are designed to support compulsory core area subject knowledge and skills.

    Presenting the allotments as percentages, rather than specific number of minutes, reflects the fact that schools vary in length of day, opening and closing times, recesses and midday intermission. Schools are, of course, still expected to adhere to Regulation 101/95 which stipulates the minimum requirements of the instructional day.

    A recommendation for schools offering basic French or other second languages is to re-allocate a small portion of English Language Arts time for this purpose. This recognizes that some language concepts are transferable and should assist schools to accommodate the basic French grant requirement.

    Schools may choose to continue integration of subject area learning, where appropriate, in order to maximize student achievement. This could include, for example, the integration of such supplementary areas as information technology skills or study skills with learning across the curriculum; of language arts and social studies, of mathematics and science. The intent of New Directions is for all students to have opportunities to achieve, relative to the prescribed learning outcomes of the curriculum.

    As it relates to the plans for physical education and health education integration, the Department will offer suggestions for instructional planning and proposed topics for instruction. These guidelines will be in use until such time as the new physical education/health education curriculum framework becomes available.

    ENGLISH PROGRAM—Recommended Time Allotments
    Subject Areas Grades 1 to 6 Grades 7 and 8

    language arts (English) 35% 27%
    mathematics 15% 17%
    science 10% 13%
    social studies 10% 13%
    physical education/health education 11% 9%
    arts 10% 8%
    e.g., basic French, other languages, Native studies, etc.
    9% 13%
    Total 100% 100%

    A recommendation for schools offering basic French or other second languages is to re-allocate a small portion of English language arts time for this purpose. This recognizes that some language concepts are transferable and should assist schools to accommodate the basic French grant requirement.

    FRANÇAIS PROGRAM—Recommended Time Allotments
    Subject Areas Grades 1 to 6 Grades 7 and 8

    Français/Anglais* 35% 27%
    mathématiques 15% 17%
    sciences de la nature 10% 13%
    sciences humaines 10% 13%
    éducation physique et éducation à la santé 11% 9%
    arts 10% 8%
    e.g., éducation religieuse, etc.
    9% 13%
    Total 100% 100%

    * Anglais is a compulsory subject area from Grade 4 to Senior 4. School divisions/districts and schools may elect to teach Anglais in Grade 3.

    FRENCH IMMERSION PROGRAM—Recommended Time Allotments*
    Subject Areas Grades 1 to 6 Grades 7 and 8

    English language arts - Immersion 20% 14%
    Français 15% 13%
    mathématiques 15% 17%
    sciences de la nature 10% 13%
    sciences humaines 10% 13%
    éducation physique et éducation à la santé 11% 9%
    arts 10% 8%
    e.g., formation personnelle, etc.
    9% 13%
    Total 100% 100%

    Bilingual Heritage Language Instruction (Ukrainian, German, Hebrew): The time allotments specified for the French Immersion Program also apply to Bilingual Heritage Language Instruction. Time allotments for English language arts will be the same as the English allotment in the table. The time allotment identified for Français will be used for language arts instruction in the heritage language. Mathematics and science will be instructed in English; the other subjects will be taught in the heritage language (following the Policy for Heritage Language Instruction).

    Senior Years Credit System

    The Senior Years (Senior 1-4) credit system provides flexibility to enable students to pursue Senior Years courses best suited to their individual requirements and aspirations. A student may earn one credit by undertaking and successfully completing a course of study designed for a minimum of 110 hours of instruction. Half credits (courses designed for a minimum of 55 hours of instruction) may be earned in like manner. A minimum of 28 credits is required for graduation from the Senior Years.


    A credit is granted in recognition of the successful completion of a course for which a minimum of 110 hours has been scheduled. The specific credit requirements for the OSSD are listed in OS:IS.

    Grade 9 programs are currently not streamed. Courses offered in grades 10 to 12 for credit must be at one of three levels of difficulty: basic, general, advanced. OACs are offered at the advanced level of difficulty. These levels are described in OS:IS.


    Students must pass certain courses in their five years of secondary school studies. The following table presents the compulsory subjects. Some courses developed locally may supplement these subjects.



    Language of Instruction (French or English) 6 6 6 6 6
    Second Language (English or French) 4 4 4 4 4
    Mathematics 6 6 4 6 4
    Physical Education 2 2 2 2 2
    Religious and Moral Instruction or Moral Education 2 2 2 2 2
    Career Choice Education - - 11 1
    Personal and Social Development 2 - 1 1 1
    Art 4 4 - - -
    Ecology 4 - - - -
    Natural Science - 4 - 6 -
    Biology - - 4 - -
    Home Economics - 4 - - -
    General Geography 4 - - - -
    General History - 4 - - -
    Geography of Quebec and Canada - - 4 - -
    History of Quebec and Canada - - - 4 -
    Economics - - - - 4
    Introduction to Technology - - 4 - -
    TOTAL 34 36 32 32 24

    New Brunswick (Anglophone Sector)Top

    In grades 9 and 10, schools may organize differently to meet the expected learning outcomes and course requirements. English and mathematics are taught throughout the year, while other subject areas may be semestered or blocked over different periods of time.

    In grades 11 and 12, a credit is granted for successful completion (50 per cent) of work that usually requires 90 hours of instructional time. The move from a 110-hour credit course to a 90-hour credit course began in 1999. The majority of New Brunswick high schools have chosen to adopt the 90-hour credit system.

    Students have opportunities to challenge for credit (up to 2 challenges allowed in grades 11 and 12) and to take independent study (one independent study allowed in grades 11 and 12). These are allowed exceptions to the usual time allotment.

    New Brunswick (Francophone Sector)Top

    The length of the school year is 187 days, divided into two semesters of 93.5 days. During each semester, students' schedules include four one-credit courses lasting 115 hours.

    Nova ScotiaTop

    Information not available.

    Prince Edward IslandTop

    At the senior high level, each credit or course must be allotted 110 hours for instructional purposes. This is true for both compulsory and non-compulsory courses.

    Newfoundland and LabradorTop

    Recommended time allotments for intermediate school

    English Language Arts 20 per cent
    Mathematics18 per cent
    Social Studies 10 per cent
    Science10 per cent
    French10 per cent
    Religious Education8 per cent
    Industrial Arts/Home Economics 8 per cent
    Physical Education 6 per cent
    Music and Art5 per cent
    Health5 per cent

    Recommended time allotments for senior high school

    In senior high school, the courses requiring 110-120 hours per year of instruction are given 2 credits, and the courses requiring 55-60 hours per year of instruction receive 1 credit. Most students register for 14 credits each academic year.

    Northwest TerritoriesTop

    Junior high

    The length of the school day for grades 7 to 9 is set at a minimum of 5.25 hours and a maximum of 5.75 hours. The recommended time allotment (hours per year) for each part of the junior high school program is:

    Language of instruction21%(approx. 210 hrs)
    Another language9%(approx. 90 hrs)
    Mathematics18%(approx. 180 hrs)
    Science9%(approx. 90 hrs)
    Social studies9%(approx. 90 hrs)
    Physical education9%(approx. 90 hrs)
    Career & technology studies (CST)6%(approx. 60 hrs)
    Health6%(approx. 60 hrs)
    Arts education6%(approx. 60 hrs)
    Total93%930 hrs

    The balance of the school instructional time is used at the discretion of the local education authority for complementary courses, including cultural activities relevant to the community and approved by the District Education Authority.

    • The language of instruction can be in any one of the eight official languages of the NWT: English, Chipewyan, Dogrib, Gwich’in, Slavey, Inuinnaqtun, Cree, French.
    • Another language is deemed a language other than the language of instruction.
    • Practical arts has been replaced by CTS modules. Students at the junior high level can accumulate credits earned in CTS modules, but they are not credited for the courses until they register in grade 10. The school is responsible for tracking CTS credits earned and must rerecord them in a student's records when the student enters grade 10.
    • Arts education refers to fine arts, drama or music.

    High school

    Most courses have a value of either 3 or 5 credits, but career and technology studies courses are offered for 1 credit. The apprenticeship program (SNAP) can have upwards of 40 credits based on the number of apprenticeship/on-the-job training hours earned during the program. At least 25 hours per credit must be scheduled for purposes of instruction, examinations, and other activities that directly relate to the course for which credit is to be granted. During this time, direct student/teacher interaction and supervision are to be maintained.


    The standard time allotment for secondary courses is 120 hours per course per year. Instructional time allotments for grade 7 courses reflect time allotments for elementary schools, with their greater emphasis on language arts and mathematics. Time allotments may vary somewhat due to the constraints of the various school organizational patterns; for example, time allotments for grade 8 courses in K-9 schools may be closer to elementary school course time allotments than to standard secondary school course time allotments.


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