How many children attend Canadian private schools?
Canada has about 1,700 private and independent schools educating more than 280,000 students. About 6 per cent of children in Canada attend private school, with the Greater Toronto Area having among the best concentration of facilities in Canada.
“Private” or “independent”?
Fee-paying schools are known collectively as private schools, which are operated by private individuals or groups.
The umbrella term covers a subgroup known as independent schools, which are traditionally run as non-profit organizations answerable to a board of trustees. Any unused revenue from tuition fees is reinvested in the school. Private schools that operate as for-profit companies come in all sizes, affiliations and academic systems.
How big are private schools?
You can find private schools with as few as 20 pupils or more than 1,000. Larger schools will typically have better facilities and more options. Private and independent schools usually offer a lower student-to-teacher ratio than do public schools. When you’re looking for a school, always ask about its average and maximum class sizes.
Are there many academic options?
Private schools offer a wide range of academic choices, including International and French Baccalaureates, Advanced Placement, and British O and A levels.
When checking a school for your child, ask about how its curriculum prepares students for Canadian and international university entrance; its regime of testing/examinations; its expectations on homework; and whether it offers immersion in French or other languages.
What to ask about teachers?
Ask how the school chooses its teachers and what kinds of credentials are mandatory.
What kind of schools are there?
There are many traditional, British-style boarding and independent schools across Canada, both co-ed, religious and same-sex. . Some, such as Montessori or Waldorf schools, have distinct philosophies about education; others are geared to children with special needs. Many newer schools offer a more relaxed, liberal environment than old-style private schools.
What else do schools offer?
Extra-curricular activities can be as important a factor as a school’s academic record. Ask, for example, about its provision of sports, music, drama, technology and international trips.
How much does it cost?
Tuition fees vary widely, from about $5,000 to over $25,000 a year. Cost doesn’t equate to quality. There are several good private schools that cost considerably less than the well-known, traditional institutions.
What about boarding school?
Many private schools offer room and board to students, allowing them to become fully immersed in academic life away from their home and family.Boarding school is a major commitment for students and families, both emotionally and financially (anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 a year), but it usually offers increased academic challenges, more exposure to arts and sports, and opportunities for the student’s personal growth through travel and volunteer work.
Where can I find out more?
Most schools hold open houses, usually in the spring and fall, so check with individual schools for details.
Many websites offer information about private schools, such as:
Association of Boarding Schools: www.schools.com
B.C. Federation of Independent School Associations: www.fisabc.ca
Canadian Association of Independent Schools: www.cais.ca
Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario: www.cisontario.ca
Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators: www.ccma.ca
Quebec Association of Independent Schools: www.qais.qc.ca
Our Kids Publications: www.ourkids.net