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Lakefield College School HANDOUT for Private School Supplement

How many private schools are there in Canada?

As of 2012 there were 1,907 private schools with 424,000 students. Ontario had the most, with 963 schools; PEI the least, with three. Quebec had the highest concentration of students in private schools, 10.6 per cent of its total student population. The other provinces ranged from 2 to 6 per cent.

Which provinces provide public funding to private schools?

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British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec

What is the difference between private and independent schools?

Some private schools are known as independent schools, which means they are not-for-profit schools that report to a board of trustees.

What types of schools are there?

Co-ed, boys only, girls only, boarding, language-focused, military, faith-based and special needs. Schools that focus on postsecondary preparation offer accelerated academic courses and may include International Baccalaureate programs and Advanced Placement classes. Alternative schools, such Waldorf and Montessori, offer less structured, student-directed learning.

How do you know if a school is the right one?

"There are different kinds of classroom setups and different ways teachers present information," says Agnes Stawicki, managing editor at Our Kids Media. "For instance, some students are visual learners and some schools have incorporated visuals into their curriculum more. Some students are kinesthetic learners, which means they absorb information best by doing hands-on programs. Some boys, for example, might do better in that type of school versus the typical classroom, where you have more auditory learners with teachers presenting information to students sitting at a desk."

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The proper school might depend on what type of learner your child is.

Watch how children play. Are they more comfortable in a group or doing their own thing? Do they like to read? Do they like to build things? Are they artistic? Speak to their teachers to see how things are being taught and what is getting through to students and stimulating a desire to learn. Organizations such as Our Kids have online questionnaires to help with the selection process. Parents who want to know more can take students for professional psycho-educational assessments.

Also, student-to-teacher ratios matter. Some special-needs classes set a maximum of 10 students per teacher and can have even fewer students in each class. For private schools in general, the average is about 15-18. In public schools, there can be 30 students per teacher, and sometimes more. "Smaller classes mean teachers can support students where they need support and challenge them where they need to be challenged," Ms. Stawicki says.

How do teachers differ in private schools?

Accreditation for teachers varies by province. Some require the same certification as public school teachers, while others do not. Private-school teachers are often encouraged to explore new types of teaching methods and curriculums to keep students interested in learning. Private schools sometimes look for teachers with work experience in their field, such as science or music, who are able to provide a real-world perspective that can help students make decisions about career paths.

What are some other benefits of private schools?

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Students are often exposed to more extracurricular activities, such as arts and sports, as part of their day. Some schools stress community involvement and volunteering as part of their mission. Others provide opportunities for international travel.

What are the costs?

Annual tuition generally ranges from $10,000 to $25,000, or more, with some faith-based schools in some areas charging as little as $4,000 a year, according to Our Kids. Boarding schools generally range between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, and can sometimes cost more. Most of the larger schools offer merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid. Sibling discounts can be available, as well. There can be extra fees, as well.

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