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Comparing Ontario private schools and public schools

Six percent of Canadian students attend a private school. However, 66 percent of Canadian parents say that, if they could afford it, they would enroll their child in one of the well-established Ontario private schools.

Many parents assume that children who attend an Ontario private school (most of them in Toronto) have better academic outcomes than those in public schools. And it is true that when kids go to an Ontario private school they tend to score higher on tests such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Here’s the question that should be answered. Kids in Ontario private schools do score higher academically, but what contribution did the school make? How much can be attributed to the child coming from a family with a higher socio-economic status? The OECD delved deeper into this in 2011 and discovered that students in public school who had parents with social and economic status comparable to that of private school parents did equally well.

More recently, Statistics Canada surveyed 7,000 students from close to 1,200 schools across Canada and found that students at private schools did have better academic outcomes, but only because “students who attended private high schools were more likely to have socio-economic characteristics positively associated with academic success and to have school peers with university-educated parents.”

Nevertheless, there are other benefits that attract parents to Ontario private schools. Take a look as we compare the options:

Ontario Private Schools

The Ontario private school benefits go beyond academic performance.

The appeal to many parents is that, almost universally, Ontario private schools invite the parents to be closely involved with their child’s education, both at home and at the school. Ontario public schools establish a kind of partnership with the parents.

Another bonus is that the class size of Ontario private schools is almost always smaller than those in public schools. This allows the teacher to build a one-on-one relationship with the child.

Ontario private schools seem to have an edge with opening the doors to universities. Many Ontario private schools boast that every one of their students is accepted to their first choice university.

Most Ontario private schools offer excellent extracurricular activities not always available in public schools, such as a variety of sports, arts, clubs and music.

Ontario private schools sometimes provide international exchange programs, single-gender schools and Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith-based schools.

Ontario Public Schools

Public schools are affordable. You are paying for them in your taxes, whether you use them or not.

They have their own benefits. Most schools are local so school friendships develop into after-school friendships, encouraging out-of-school socializing.

Teachers in most public schools must have a bachelor’s degree as well as federal or provincial certification.

Students in public schools are learning side-by-side with all cultures and races and so are exposed to a wider range of people.

Convenience. The public school may be close by, but even if the child lives a distance from the school, school buses are provided at no charge.

What matters is that families make the right choice that is a fit for both the child and the family, and this can only happen if parents take the time to do their homework.

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