Find information about private elementary and secondary schools in Ontario, including questions to ask before enrolling your child.
On this page Skip this page navigation
In Ontario, private schools operate as businesses or non-profit organizations independently of the Ministry of Education and in accordance with the requirements set by the Education Act. Private schools do not receive any funding or other financial support from the ministry.
Under subsection 1(1) of the Education Act, a private schools is defined as “an institution at which instruction is provided at any time between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any school day for five or more pupils who are of or over compulsory school age in any of the subjects of the elementary or secondary school courses of study and that is not a school as defined in this section”.
While all private schools in Ontario must meet the same general requirements, there are additional requirements for private schools seeking the authority to grant credits toward the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).
The Ministry of Education does not regulate, licence, accredit or otherwise oversee the operation of private schools. Parents, guardians and students must do their research before registering for private schools. Information on a particular school's educational program, business practices and other policies should be obtained from the school directly, prior to registration.
Principals and teachers in private schools are not required to be certified by the Ontario College of Teachers. Certified teachers are listed on the college’s public register at Ontario College of Teachers website.
Questions to ask before enrolling in private schools
Before entering into a contract with a private school, parents, guardians and students should ask these questions.
Does the school:
- follow the Ontario curriculum?
- conduct criminal reference checks on staff?
- have a code of conduct or other discipline policy?
- employ teachers who are members of the Ontario College of Teachers?
- publish Ontario Secondary School Literacy test (OSSLT) results?
- publish its admissions policy?
- enter into contracts with parents regarding fees, refunds and other policies?
- have a procedure for resolving complaints by parents and students?
- have a policy regarding access to the student's records, such as the Ontario Student Transcript (OST) or Ontario Student Record (OSR)?
- publish the number of years it has been in operation?
- have liability insurance with respect to accidents involving students?
Role of the province
The government of Ontario:
- ensures that a list of private schools is available online
- collects a notice of intention to operate for all private schools annually
- inspects private secondary schools seeking the authority to grant credits in courses leading to the OSSD
We require that a private school have the following:
- a principal in charge of the school
- control of quality of instruction and evaluation of student achievement
- control of content of the program or course of study
- a common school-wide assessment and evaluation policy
- a common procedure for reporting to parents
- a common school-wide attendance policy
- a central office for the maintenance of student records
Ontario has the sole authority to determine the courses of study that a student must complete to obtain the OSSD.
Private schools that are currently operating
A list of all private elementary and secondary schools currently operating in Ontario is available online through the Ontario Open Data catalogue. It includes general information about each school, such as religious affiliation and if the school offers credits toward the OSSD.
Private schools operate independently and this listing does not mean that Ontario endorses any school.
There are two types of private schools operating in Ontario:
- non-inspected private schools
- inspected private schools
Non-inspected private schools
Non-inspected private schools include all private elementary schools as well as any private secondary schools that do not offer OSSD credit courses. These schools are not subject to provincial inspection and are not required to follow the official Ontario curriculum, although they must still offer instruction in any of the subjects in the elementary or secondary courses of study.
Inspected private schools
We inspect all private secondary schools who are seeking or who have been approved to grant course credits towards to the OSSD, per regulations set out in Section 16(7) of the Education Act.
The purpose of the inspection is to determine if the standard of instruction in courses that are being offered as counting towards the OSSD comply with provincial requirements. When inspecting for compliance under the Education Act and for curriculum, assessment and evaluation practices, we do not inspect or approve items such as the condition of premises, health and safety practices or matters related to staffing. Inspections may be schedule or unscheduled.
Private secondary schools are authorized to grant credits only after a provincial inspection and this may be revoked following an inspection. A school’s credit granting status is listed on their website.
Schools offering credits toward the OSSD are inspected on a recurring basis to determine if the school continues to meet provincial requirements regarding curriculum, assessment and evaluation policies. The frequency of inspections depends on the outcome of the inspection reports. Provincial inspectors may recommend that a school be inspected in two years, the next school year or within the same school year, as circumstances warrant.
After an inspection, provincial inspectors prepare a report that outlines any recommendations and outstanding issues and indicates a principal's authority to grant credits. The schools are charged an inspection fee.
There may also be times when there is a need to inspect a private school without notice, for example where there are concerns or complaints related to the standard of instruction or credit integrity.
Inspections are based on evidence gathered through review of:
- the school course calendar and the outlines of courses of study for all the OSSD credit courses that will be taught in the school
- onsite reviews of materials
- thorough discussions with the principal and other staff
- information is gathered through observations during classroom visits, review of students' work, teacher assessment and evaluation of students' work
- school policies/procedures and examination of school records
New schools will be inspected as early as possible during their first year of operation.
All private schools must provide statistical information regarding school enrolment, staff, courses of study and other information, as and when required by the Minister or Ministry of Education.
For private school information, please contact the Private Schools and International Education Unit of the Ministry of Education: