Overview

Parents in Alberta have the right to choose a private school for their child. More than 150 private school authorities operate about 180 schools and serve more than 38,000 students. Find a list of Alberta private schools.

Government does not specify the amount of tuition that a private school may charge for Grades 1 to 12. Private schools may charge tuition either on a per-student basis or provide discounts for multiple children from one family. Parents should contact the private school for information about their tuition policy.

Types of private schools

There are 3 types of private schools and 2 special designations for private schools in Alberta.

Registered private schools

A registered private school is a school registered as a private school under Section 29(1) of the Education Act. These schools must meet the requirements outlined in the act and in the Private Schools Regulation sections (2), (3), (4), (5) and (21). Registered private schools are not eligible for government funding.

Registered private schools are not required to use certificated teachers or to teach the Alberta programs of study (curriculum).

Registered private schools choosing not to follow the Alberta programs of study must maintain a list of subjects to be offered and an outline of the major skills and knowledge areas to be learned by the students. These must be consistent with the requirements for student learning established by the Minister of Education.

Accredited private schools (non funded)

An accredited private school is a registered private school accredited under Section 29(2) of the Education Act. These schools must meet the requirements of a registered private school and must meet additional requirements outlined in the act and the Private Schools Regulation sections (6), (8), (9), and (10).

Accredited (non funded) private schools must use certificated teachers but are not required to teach the Alberta programs of study.

Accredited private schools choosing not to follow the Alberta programs of study must maintain a list of subjects to be offered and an outline of the major skills and knowledge areas to be learned by the students. These must be consistent with the requirements for student learning established by the Minister of Education.

Accredited funded private schools

An accredited funded private school is an accredited private school that receives a grant under the Education Grants Regulation. To be eligible for funding, accredited schools must meet additional requirements in the Private Schools Regulation sections (7), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17), (18), (19), and (20), and operate without funding for at least one year in compliance with all the additional requirements that a funded private school must meet. The most recent applicable funding rates are outlined in Section 9.3 Accredited Funded Private Schools of the Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Accredited funded private schools must:

  • use certificated teachers
  • teach the Alberta programs of study
  • have a principal who is a certificated teacher

Special designations

Designated special education private schools

Designated special education private schools are funded private schools that have been given special approval and funding by the Minister of Education, where the sole purpose of the school is to serve students who are identified with a mild, moderate or severe disability. Additional requirements for these schools are outlined in the Private Schools Regulation section (11).

Heritage language schools

Heritage language schools are a type of accredited private school that offers approved or authorized language and culture courses outside regular school hours to students who receive their basic education program at another school authority. A heritage language school may be funded or non funded. If funded, a person who holds an Alberta teaching certificate must be designated as the principal and audited financial statements are required.

Monitoring and evaluation

A registered or accredited private school (funded or non funded) must submit an operating plan each year to the Minister of Education, in the form prescribed by the minister. This operating plan must be submitted by May 15, before the school year for which the plan is to have effect.

Accredited funded private schools are monitored each year by reviewing:

  • annual operating plans and budgets
  • audited financial statements
  • 3-Year Education Plan (3YEP) and Annual Education Results Report (AERR)

Government staff regularly conduct formal on-site monitoring evaluations for public assurance and accountability.

Information regarding the preparation and submission of the 3YEP and AERR can be found in the policy and requirements for accredited funded private school authority planning and results reporting.

How to choose a private school

When choosing a private school, parents should consider:

  • if the private school is registered, accredited or accredited and eligible for funding by government
  • how well parts of the school environment fit the specific needs of your child, such as:
    • location
    • size
    • pupil/teacher ratio
    • academic focus and rigour
    • breadth of courses offered
    • specialized programs such as faith based, music, art, theatre or athletics
    • your child's abilities and learning style
  • if the school has a transportation system or if you will be responsible for transporting your child to and from school
  • the amount of tuition charged at the school and payment/refund policy
  • if its philosophy and policies, such as school discipline, suspension and expulsion, meet with your expectations
  • how the school’s values align with your family’s values and lifestyle
  • how the school integrates its values into the curriculum

To learn more about a school’s values, read their mission statement and speak with the principal and staff.

We recommend visiting the prospective school and carefully reading the school policies and procedures to ensure you understand the expectations for parents and students.

Enrolment

The person responsible for the operations of a private school can refuse to enrol a student. However, once an accredited funded private school enrols a student, government requires the private school to provide appropriate education programming for that student for the school year in which that student is enrolled.

Students with disabilities

Private schools are not required to enrol students with disabilities.

Private schools do accept student(s) with special needs and can access severe disability funding grants to support individual program costs and required services. There are a number of designated special education private schools in Alberta.

School councils

If the parents of currently enrolled students do not constitute a majority of the members on the board of the private school (Private Schools Regulation, section 12), then an accredited funded private school must establish a parent advisory council. This council is a group of parents of students enrolled in the school who provide advice to the principal and the operating board of the private school about matters relating to the school.

Student records

Private schools must maintain records of student enrolment in a manner acceptable to the Minister of Education. The Student Record Regulation specifies the information that should and should not be contained in the student record.

Privacy

The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) applies to personal information that is collected, used or disclosed during a commercial activity. PIPA specifically includes the operation of a private school as a “commercial activity."

Home education and shared responsibility programs

Accredited funded private schools are not required to supervise home education programs. However, the Education Act authorizes accredited funded private schools to become an associate private school and supervise home education and shared responsibility programs.

Parents who would like an accredited funded private school to supervise a home education program are required to notify the private school using the Home Education Notification Form.

Discipline and expulsion

Private schools must develop a policy for the discipline of students and for the suspension and expulsion of students that incorporates the principles of fundamental justice. They must provide copies of the policy to the students enrolled in the school and their parents. (Private Schools Regulation, Section 21).

The private school remains responsible for a student’s education program for the remainder of the school year when a student is expelled and must ensure that the student has access to an education program for the rest of the school year (Private School Regulation, Section 19).

Transportation funding

Private schools do not receive transportation funding from government for students in Grades 1 to 12. Some private schools enter into student transportation arrangements with public school boards or have their own buses. Parents may be charged a transportation fee for this service.

Accredited funded private schools with Early Childhood Services programs may receive transportation funding for funded children in accordance with the Funding Manual for School Authorities ECS to Grade 12.

Minister of Education review

Under Section 43 of the Education Act, parents do not have the right to ask the Minister of Education to review a private school authority’s decision. Private school authorities are encouraged to establish appeal mechanisms for parents of children enrolled in their schools.

Resources

How to establish a private school

To request an application for a registered, accredited or heritage language school, submit requests to edc.privateschools@gov.ab.ca.

New school applications are received throughout the school year.

The deadline for submission to begin operating in September of any given calendar year is in January of that same year and will be noted on the application form. Application process and requirements are further described in the Fact Sheet: Establishing a Private School (PDF, 82 KB).

Additional requirements

Contact

To connect with Alberta Education for more information about private schools:

Phone: 780-427-6272
Toll free: dial 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: privateschools@gov.ab.ca