Private Elementary and Secondary Schools
In Ontario, all private schools that operate in the province are considered businesses or non-profit organizations. Consumers are advised to exercise due diligence with respect to contracts with private schools. Consumers who would like information on a school's educational program, business practices and other policies prior to registering a student should contact the particular school directly.
The Role of the Ministry of Education
- List of Private Schools on the Ministry of Education's website – The Ministry of Education provides to potential consumers a list of private elementary and secondary schools that operate in Ontario. The list includes general information about each school, such as religious affiliation, the availability of residential facilities, and, more importantly, whether or not the school offers credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The Minister of Education has the sole authority to determine the courses of study that a student must complete in order to obtain the OSSD. Private schools operate independently from the ministry so the inclusion of a school on the ministry's website is not an endorsement of that school by the ministry. All private schools that wish to operate in Ontario are legally obliged to register with the Ministry of Education and to provide the ministry with annual statistical reports.
- Notice of Intention to Operate a Private School – All private schools that wish to operate in Ontario are obliged to complete and submit to the ministry a Notice of Intention to Operate a Private School. Section 16 of the Education Act requires operators of private schools in Ontario to notify the Ministry of Education annually of their intention to operate.
- Private Elementary Schools – The ministry does not conduct inspections of private elementary schools. Private elementary schools are not obliged to use the Ontario curriculum.
- Private Secondary Schools
- Private Secondary Schools not offering credits towards the OSSD – The ministry does not conduct inspections of private secondary schools that do not wish to offer credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. These schools are not obliged to use the Ontario curriculum.
- Private secondary schools offering credits towards the OSSD – The Ministry of Education will inspect all private secondary schools that want to grant credits in subjects leading to the OSSD. We inspect only the standard of instruction. We do not inspect or approve items such as premises, health and safety practices or matters relating to staffing. Private secondary schools are authorized to grant credits only after a ministry inspection and this authority may be revoked following an inspection. The credit granting status of a school is noted on the website.
Teachers in Private Schools – Principals and teachers in private schools are not required to be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers. Certified teachers are listed on the College's public register at www.oct.ca.
Consumer Tips – The following list of questions for consumers is not meant to be exhaustive. Please note that private schools are not required to have these policies or procedures in place in order to operate under the Education Act:
When thinking about entering into a contract with a private school, consumers may want to consider, among others, the following issues. Does the school:
- conduct criminal reference checks on staff?
- use the Ontario curriculum?
- employ teachers who are members of the Ontario College of Teachers?
- administer Education Quality and Accountability Act testing?
- publish its admissions policy?
- enter into contracts with parents regarding fees, refunds and other policies?
- have a procedure for resolving complaints by parents and pupils?
- publish the number of years it has been in operation?
- have liability insurance in respect of accidents involving pupils?