British Columbia

B.C. leading rise in private school enrolment across Canada

More parents across Canada are choosing to send their children to private or independent schools, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute.

Enrolment is highest in B.C. where 16 years of labour strife has seen private school enrolment jump

Private school enrollment is up across Canada, particularly in B.C. where 16 years of labour conflicts and funding cuts have seen parents opt for other options. (Speedkingz/Shutterstock)

More parents across Canada are choosing to send their children to private or independent schools, according to a new study from the Fraser Institute.

The study found that every province recorded a decline in total K-12 enrolment between 2000–2001 to 2014–2015, except Alberta, which had an increase of 11.6 per cent.

But despite the falling number of students across Canada, every province saw enrolment in private or independent schools grow over the study period — except New Brunswick, which saw a decline of 12.7 per cent.

Nowhere was the trend toward private and independent schools more prevalent than in British Columbia where 16 years of labour conflict, funding cuts, school closures and overcrowding have contributed to a drop in public school enrolment by about 12 per cent (about 75,000 students) since 2000.

Meanwhile private school enrolment in B.C increased by 35 per cent (31,000 students) over the same period. Overall enrolment in the province (including home schooling) dropped by only 8.2 per cent (53,000) students during the same time.

Plenty of provincial options

The study noted that school funding models vary widely across Canada, with each province funding a unique mix of public minority language schools, Catholic and other religious schools, charter schools and International Baccalaureate schools.

For instance in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Roman Catholic schools are part of the public school system, while in B.C. all religious schools are private or independently operated, making comparisons between provinces difficult.

In addition, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Quebec all provide funding for independent schools. This ranges from 35 per cent to 80 per cent of the amount allocated to public schools on a per-student basis. Ontario and the Atlantic provinces provide no funding for independent schools.

The study also looked at home schooling and found every province except British Columbia has experienced an increase in both absolute enrolment in home schooling and as a share of total enrolment.

Manitoba recorded the highest proportion of students enrolled in home schooling at 1.5 per cent. Seven provinces record home schooling enrolment rates of less than one per cent.


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