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Independent Schools in British Columbia

Enrolment in independent schools has increased significantly over the past 15 years.


Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, the full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrolment in BC independent schools increased from 57,462.7 to 81,180.6. This is an increase of 41.3%.

Independent schools have significantly smaller population of students in specialized categories.

In 2016–17, the only category of students that is larger in independent schools than public schools is non-resident students. Students in specialized categories in public schools make up a considerably larger part of the overall student population in all other categories than those in independent schools.


Public funding for independent schools has increased significantly more than its student enrolment.2


Between 2000–01 and 2016–17, funding for independent schools increased by 95.9%. This is larger than student enrolment increases by 54.6%, and larger than funding increases for public schools by 90.0%.

While overall graduation rates in independent schools are slightly higher, that is not necessarily the case across specialized categories of students.3

In 2016–17, the six-year Dogwood Diploma completion rate was marginally higher for independent schools in general, among non-resident students, and students with special needs (excluding gifted). However, Aboriginal students in public schools had higher graduation rates than their independent school counterparts. Students in English language learner programs graduated at roughly the same rate.



1 BC Ministry of Education. (2004–17). Student Statistics – (Various Years) Province - Public and Independent Schools Combined. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.

2 Ministry of Education. (Various Years). Service Plan. Victoria: Government of British Columbia.
Statistics Canada. (2017). Table 326-0021 Consumer Price Index—annual (2002=100). Ottawa: CANSIM.

3 Analysis and Reporting Unit, Ministry of Education. (2017). BC Schools – Six Year Completion Rate. Retrieved from catalogue.data.gov.bc.ca/dataset/bc-schools-six-year-completion-rate.

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