School Choice

Private Schools

Introduction

The Government of Alberta recognizes that parents have the right to choose a private school for their children and has provided financial support for private schools since 1967.  From a rate of $100 per student in 1967, government support has increased to the current level of 60% of the base instruction rate for school jurisdictions for all level 1 funded private schools, and 70% of applicable per student grants for level 2 funded private schools plus other specific funding grants, as outlined in Part 8 of the  Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Section 28 of the School Act outlines the requirements for private schools for grades 1 -12.  Private schools may also offer Early Childhood Services (ECS) programs.  All private schools:

  • must meet the basic requirements of section 28(1) of the School Act
  • may charge tuition
  • may select their students and do not have to enroll students with special education needs (with the exception of Designated Special Education Private Schools)
  • Notify parents of children in funded private schools that they may ask their private school board to review any board decision, but they do not have the right under the School Act to ask the Minister of Education to review a board’s decision
  • have boards that are elected from the membership of its society or non-profit company
  • employ teachers holding valid Alberta teaching certificates but not eligible for active memberships in the ATA as per the Teaching Profession Act.

Funding for Accredited Funded Private Schools

Accredited Level 2 funded private schools receive 70 percent of applicable per student instruction grants such as the base instruction and English as second language grants, Alberta Initiative for School Improvement grants and plant operations and maintenance per student grants. Eligible schools agree to increased accountability measures, or they continue to obtain the Level 1 funding which is at a 60 percent level of eligible per student grants.

What kinds of private schools are there in Alberta?

The School Act, Section 28, authorizes two kinds of private schools to operate in Alberta: registered private schools and accredited private schools. 

Registered private schools, defined under Section 28(1) of the School Act, meet the basic registration requirements established by the Minister, are not eligible for Alberta Education funding, are not required to teach the Alberta Programs of Study but are required to have outcomes consistent with The Ministerial Order on Student Learning (Ministerial Order 001/2013)  and their instructors are not required to have Alberta Teaching Certificates.

Accredited Private Schools are accredited by the Minister under section 28(2) of the School Act.  These private schools seek additional recognition beyond basic registration to receive accredited status.  All accredited non-funded private schools must enroll seven or more students from two or more families.  There are three categories of accredited private schools.  

  • Accredited non-funded are mostly language and culture schools but some focus on adult education. 
  • Accredited funded are entitled to partial provincial funding for meeting educational standards.   Section 13 of the Government Organization Act provides the authority to provide funding to private schools under the School Grants Regulation A.R. 72/95),   amended AR206/2001.  Students write the provincial tests and are taught the Alberta Programs of Study by Alberta certificated teachers. Schools receive either Level 1 or Level 2 funding – Funding Manual for School Authorities, (Funding Manual)
  • Designated Special Education Private Schools (DSEPS) serve only students with special needs and which meet the criteria outlined in the Funding Manual.  These schools provide education services to students who are entitled to special education programs, receive special education funding at rates equal to those provided to the public system and meet the same accountability requirements for this special education funding as public jurisdictions.  The status of the Designated Special Education Private School is approved annually by the Director of the Special Programs Branch.  

Heritage Language Schools do not fit neatly into either the registered or accredited categories.  They offer community programming for students in Early Childhood Services to Grade 9 and most do not receive funding from Alberta Education.  If funding from Alberta Education is received, it is through the Credit Enrollment Unit (CEU) funding system for provincially authorized or Locally Developed/Authorized high school courses, if the CEU accountability requirements are met.

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Questions and Answers

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