Three private high schools are opening up in Ottawa next year, offering students alternative approaches to learning using very different methods.

Ottawa Montessori School's new high school, called The Element, was announced earlier this month.

It'll open in Tunney's pasture and will use the Montessori principles of mixed-age classes and greater student choice while teaching the Ontario curriculum. Tuition is $15,000 a year.

The Compass Centre for Self-Directed Learning and the Blyth Academy are also set to open next year.

Compass, a non-profit high school for students aged 12-18, will operate a pilot program in the Bronson Centre from January to June next year. It will cost anywhere from $1,250 for one day a week to $3,500 for a four-day week.

The school, modelled after the Massachusetts-based North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, is scheduled to open in 2013.

Sunday, Nov. 11: Compass is holding an information session at the Bronson Centre on Bronson Avenue, starting at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 13: Blyth Academy is holding an information session at ARC The Hotel on Slater Street, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

There are no grades, tests or report cards, and students don't receive a high school diploma on graduation.

Instead, students legally become homeschoolers, then use the resources and classes at Compass at their discretion. Classes are based on what students want to learn.

"It's the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If kids are learning because they are desiring to learn, that process is more valuable than if they're learning to get a good grade or complete an assignment," said Compass co-director Andre Morson.

Blyth Academy has existed in Toronto for about 35 years in seven schools.

The Ottawa school will open with part-time classes in the summer of 2013, followed by full-time classes in September. The school will operate in Westboro with an average class size of fewer than eight students to prepare students for university.

Tuition at the for-profit school ranges from just under $10,000 for Grade 12 students to about $12,000 for Grade 9 and Grade 10 students.

"It's a very personalized form of education — individual learning. Our teachers teach to individuals as opposed to classes," chairman Sam Blyth said. "It is more hands on than you typically find at a traditional school."

Another Blyth school will open in London, Ont., next year as well.