What are alternative schools?

Alternative schools offer different approaches to childhood development and education. They often focus on different subject areas or teaching methods.

Within Ontario’s education system, public and private schools offer alternative forms of education but they are designed differently. Typically, private alternative schools are costly while public ones are free or low-cost.

Public Alternative Schools

Alternative schools within the public stream are centralized in special programs. If your child is showing a strong interest in a specific subject, enrolling them in an alternative school can help them to further develop their skills and get professional training for their future career.

Even though these schools are publicly-funded by the government, there may be additional fees based on the specialized program requirements. For example, an arts-based school may require additional fees for music equipment.

Here are some examples of public alternative schools:

  • Arts Focus: These schools offer programs focused on fine arts, visual arts, drama, music, and dance. If your child has a strong interest in creative expression, an arts-based school might be a good option.
  • Entrepreneurship: These schools help students start their own companies or prepare for post-secondary programs in business.
  • Technology: These schools offer programs focused on computer science, technology, media, and design. Education in these schools can lead your child to further studies in graphic design, information technology, photography, production and more.
  • Science: These schools focus on modern science, mathematics, and engineering.
  • Sports and Athletics: These schools help train students in specific sports. These schools also tend to offer scholarship opportunities for post-secondary education.

Private Alternative Schools

Private schools do not receive government funding and some do not follow the Ontario curriculum. There are two types of private schools, non-inspected and inspected. Only inspected private schools provide credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

Each alternative school has specific requirements and regulations for admission. Since these schools are privately funded, sending your child there can be expensive.

Here are some examples of private alternative schools:

  • Montessori Schools believe that students learn best through self-exploration, where they can educate themselves and learn to be mentors in a large classroom.
  • Waldorf Schools teach through hands-on learning and participating in educational activities.
  • Arrowsmith Schools are designed for students who have learning disabilities and teach through intensive cognitive exercises.

Many private schools also focus on more traditional areas such as academic excellence.

For More Information

Last updated: September 22, 2016 4006147