1. High academic standards
While the academic standards for both public schools and most independent schools are mandated by the Ministry of Education, an independent school has the flexibility to establish consistent standards and set higher expectations than public schools when it comes to assessing student learning and development. By holding all students to a higher academic standard, independent schools create a culture of academic excellence, encouraging all students to excel.
2. Excellent teachers, who are free from testing standards
Public and most independent school teachers must be certified and approved by BC’s Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB) of the Ministry of Education. For teachers to qualify, they must undergo a rigorous process of certification. Once certified, teachers are free to teach in either the public or independent school system. Teachers who teach in an independent school are excellent teachers who choose an independent school for various reason. The main reasons are alignment with the school’s philosophy, culture, smaller class sizes and working conditions.
3. Personal attention
Independent and private school classrooms typically have a much lower student-to-teacher ratio than public schools. This allows for more opportunities for student participation, more personal, one-on-one education and guidance, bolstering student performance and offering a strong support network for the inevitable challenges that accompany adolescence.
4. A community drawn to a mission
While public schools are limited in what and how they can teach their students, independent schools are much freer to pursue educational practices that align with their core missions, philosophies, and values, which very often aim to not only educate their pupils, but transform them into creative, civically minded leaders. By attending an independent school, your child can gain access to a passionate, mission-oriented community of teachers, parents, and other students.
5. Deep and lasting friendships
At its core, attending an independent school is very different from attending a public school, especially in terms of the friendships that are made. The idea of “community” is so important to most independent school cultures that it spurs deep connections. This, plus the depth of an independent school experience, means that students get to know one another very well. Sharing the unique experience of attending an independent school together means that friends often stay friends for years after graduation.
6. Access to teachers and administrators
Independent schools typically offer a partnership between parents, teachers, and school administrators so that everyone is working together to challenge and support your child. Parents and teachers are on the same team. This encourages mutual support between parents and teachers, ensuring that students are challenged academically, assignments are complete, students are fully engaged, that important values are reinforced at school, and that a child’s happiness and emotional well-being are valued.
7. Focus on the whole child
There is no doubt that academics are important—whether your child attends a public or independent school, a strong academic foundation is essential to a promising and successful future. And yet, there is more to your child than academics. Independent school teachers understand that educating your whole child is an important and essential part of their job as teachers. This is accomplished through the classroom, yes, but also outside the classroom—in the form of sports, clubs, and extracurricular activities that allow your child to explore and develop the many facets of their personalities and interests that make them unique.
8. Invested parents
Something that is often overlooked by parents who are considering enrolling their child in an independent school is: What will the other parents in my school network be like? When you enroll your child in an independent school, you join a set of parents who are deeply invested in their children's experience and the outcome of this investment.
Weighing Your Options
Attending an independent school is often described as being a life-changing experience for graduates, but it ultimately isn’t always the right decision for every student. The points discussed above are some of the most compelling reasons that parents consider sending their child to an independent school. Use them as you weigh your options and decide whether or not an independent school education is right for your child.