5 things your private school isn’t telling you

Is a private school education right for your family?

  2 Premium content image


From the September/October 2014 issue of the magazine.

  2 Premium content image
Miles Aldridge/Trunk Archive

Miles Aldridge/Trunk Archive

1.We’re not just for rich kids. “The general public has this idea that private schools are stuffy and only for the rich. That was certainly not the case for our school,” says Lisa Bobak, a former private school teacher at Wellington Hall Academy in Guelph, Ont. Tuition fees can be as low as $5,000 a year and families can receive big breaks through scholarships handed out by the schools.

2. Our teachers may not have teaching degrees. Instructors at private schools don’t always have teachers’ college under their belts. In some provinces, “the schools determine how they hire,” says Agnes Stawicki, managing editor of OurKids.net, a comprehensive site about private schools in Canada. Like a university, a private school could consider a wide range of educational backgrounds to find the right person for the job, she says.

3. Don’t assume we’re accredited, either. Provincial governments don’t necessarily regulate or license private schools. For instance, in Ontario all private schools operate independently and must be inspected to determine if they’re eligible to grant credits toward the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). “It’s important for families to ask if private schools are run by a board, if they’re ministry-inspected, and if they need to be or not,” says Stawicki.

4. We cater to kids with specific needs. Private schools offer different styles of teaching, which can benefit gifted students on the fast-track, as well as children with learning disabilities who need more support. Since classes are usually small, teachers get to spend more one-on-one time with students, says Bobak.

5. Kids can do just as well in public schools. When the Fraser Institute recently ranked schools based on student performance in province-wide testing, it found that the top schools in Ontario and Alberta were a mix of both private and public schools. In Quebec and B.C., however, the top five were all private schools.

2 comments on “5 things your private school isn’t telling you

  1. I went to private school from Grade 6 to grade 10. It was a mistake, in every way possible. My parents couldn’t afford it, and I knew it, so when the words ‘we can’t afford that’ came up, I felt the guilt pile up even more.
    Also, the teachers were not all actual teachers and the school was not accredited. We worked at our own pace, to a point, by subject. For example, when I joined in grade 6, I tested high in some subjects, normal in others, and very low in math. So I did grade 4 math, grade 7 and 8 English & social studies and everything else at grade 6. If you worked fast through material, you could actually pass out of your grade in to the next while still in your same class and while still doing previous grade material.
    While it sounds ideal, sort’ve, if you don’t think about it too hard, when I asked to be put in a ‘real’ school, they held me back a grade because my grades were all over the place. When I hit high school, my math was so weak, I quit math (which I could do back in the 90s) after getting the minimum to pass in grade 10 (45%) and never took it again and had to work my butt off to catch up in other spots.
    It was hell.
    There’s nothing wrong with private schools. Parents just have to be aware of what they’re doing and check out the school completely and also keep an eye on their child’s progress. My parents did not and the result was (for me) catastrophic.
    It was a miracle that English was my strongest subject. It got me in to college. I’m in my 40s now and while I would home school my kids up to Jr. High, I would never EVER recommend private school. It’s a waste of money.


    • To me, it sounded more like the transition from private to public that was the problem (other than costs).
      Personally, doing subjects at different levels is good thing. There’s no point plowing through 18 chapters worth of knowledge in 10 months when the student is struggling with a few chapters here and there. Without a time limit, students and teachers can spend more time on the weaker chapters and less time on the ones that are easier.
      It’s kinda like driving lessons. No point introducing highway driving or parallel parking if the student is bad at controlling the brakes and gas pedal.
      The ‘learn at your pace’ method is good for getting students to a certain standard. It usually just seems bad cause people look down on the slower learners.

      On the other hand, the extra $5000/year can simply be used towards private tutors instead. But the private school tuition is like a private tutor already since the classes are usually smaller.

      I would focus more on the school itself instead of public vs private (eg crimes, neighborhood, public transportation, commute times, extra-curricular activities, etc).


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *