Student Enrolment in Canada, Part 1: Independent school enrolment on the rise
Read Part 2: Government-run public school enrolment on the wane
Read Part 3: More families choosing to homeschool
An increasing share of Canadian students are enrolled in independent schools. This is the first blog post in a three-part blog series exploring enrolment of K-12 students in Canada. This post details enrolment trends in independent schools.
Between 2006/07 to 2019/20, the earliest and most recent years of available data for all school types, the national average enrolment in independent schools (as a proportion of total K-12 student enrolment) increased from 6.7 per cent to 7.6 per cent. This share also increased slightly from the previous school year (2018/19), from 7.5 per cent to 7.6 per cent of total enrolment.
Independent School Enrolment as a Share of Total Enrolment
|Total Enrolment||Percent change||% of Total Enrolment|
Unlike public schools, independent schools operate autonomously outside of the public (government-run) school system and typically charge tuition. Fifty per cent of Canadian provinces provide some government funding to independent schools, but independent schools in those provinces typically face stricter provincial regulations and certifications than non-funded independent schools. As the above table shows, enrolment in independent schools as a share of total K-12 student enrolment increased in eight of 10 provinces between 2006/07 and 2019/20. The share of students enrolled in independent schools decreased modestly in Alberta (from 4.8 per cent in 2006/07 to 4.3 per cent in 2019/20) and in Quebec (from 11.0 per cent in 2006/07 to 9.8 per cent in 2019/20). Despite the drop, Quebec enrolls a larger proportion of students in independent schools than every other province except British Columbia.
In 2006/07, Quebec had the largest share of students enrolled in independent schools. By 2019/20, B.C. had the largest share in the country at 13.1 per cent.
In other provinces, the share of enrolment in independent schools is markedly lower, at 1.6 per cent of total enrolment in Newfoundland and Labrador and 1.3 per cent in New Brunswick.
At the same time as enrolment in independent schools as a share of total enrolment increased, enrolment in government-run public schools decreased (from 93.0 per cent in 2006/07 to 91.8 per cent in 2019/20). More information about enrolment in government public schools can be found in part two of this blog series.
Five provinces—B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec—offer government funding for independent schools, making it more affordable for many families. Nova Scotia offers a very limited subsidy program called the Tuition Support Program for some designated special education independent schools.
An increasing share of Canadian families are choosing independent schools, despite this choice requiring financial sacrifice for many.