When it comes to selecting a school, parents and students can choose from a wide range of options. They can select from public schools, separate schools, Francophone schools, private schools, and charter schools. They can also access a number of unique and innovative programs - including home education, online/virtual schools, outreach programs and alternative programs. Parents can also opt to home school their children.
Choice is one of the important principles Alberta's education system is built on. Learn more about the following school options:
Public and Separate Schools
Every individual who at September 1 in a year is 6 years of age or older and younger than 19 years of age and is a Canadian citizen, admitted to Canada for permanent residence, child of a Canadian citizen, or child of an individual admitted to Canada for permanent or temporary residence is entitled to have access in that school year to an education program in accordance with the School Act.
Under the law, parents whose first language is French have a constitutional right to have their child educated in French where there are enough students to warrant it.
Parents may choose to educate their children outside the public education system, within the private school system. Private schools may charge tuition and other fees as required. There are two kinds of private schools in the province.
Charter schools are autonomous non-profit public schools designed to provide innovative or enhanced education programs that improve the acquisition of student skills, attitudes and knowledge in some measurable way.
Home Education / Blended Programs
Parents who choose to educate their children at home assume primary responsibility for delivering and supervising their child's courses of study and work as partners with a school board or accredited private school to ensure the child's educational goals are being met.
Private Early Childhood Services (ECS)
Early Childhood Services (ECS) assist children in achieving early academic success, and is widely thought to contribute positively throughout a child’s academic career. The Government of Alberta recognizes that parents may have a variety of reasons for choosing to place their children in a private ECS program, and provides funding and resources for more than 120 such programs throughout the province.
Online Learning Programs
Online Learning Programs are an educational program offered by a school authority and delivered electronically to a student at a school site or off-site, under the instruction and supervision of a certificated teacher of a board or accredited funded private school.
The Online Learning Programs offered by Alberta School Jurisdictions are unique in delivery formats, registration processes, and face to face requirements. Online learning is one of many learning environments that facilitates personalized learning and provides a flexible option for students to access Alberta courses and programs. For information about current Online Programs in Alberta, click here.
An Outreach program provides an educational alternative for students who, due to individual circumstances, find that the traditional school setting does not meet their needs. The Outreach Programs Handbook is a resource to help school jurisdictions (administrators, teachers, trustees), parents and community members understand the expectations and practices related to Outreach Programs.
An "alternative program" means an education program that (a) emphasizes a particular language, culture, religion or subject-matter, or (b) uses a particular teaching philosophy, but that is not (c) a special education program, (d) a program referred to in section 5, or (e) a program of religious education offered by a separate school board. The Alternative Programs Handbook (under revision) is a resource on section 21 of the School Act and outlines suggested procedures for establishing an Alternative Program. See http://www.qp.gov.ab.ca/index.cfm for a copy of the School Act.
Alternative School Year Calendars
To read more about roles and responsibilities for alternative programs, see: FAQs Alternative Programs.
The School Act delegates the responsibility for setting the school year to the local school board. Most school boards approve a traditional school year (September to June) but may also consider school years that vary from this traditional calendar. Recommendation #17 of Alberta’s Commission on Learning report (October 2003), encourages schools and school jurisdictions to explore alternatives to the current school year. In support of school boards, schools and school councils interested in an alternative school year, Alberta Education has produced the following documents:
- Basic Information on Alternative School Years
- Alternatives to the Traditional School Year Calendar: Information for Schools and School Jurisdictions
- Alternative School Year handbook (in development)
- Alternatives to the Current School Year: A Review