Choose the right school for your child

Public or private? What about charter? How do you choose the right school for your child? Here are some pros and cons of each to make the decision easier.

Child raising hand in class

Public school


  • Public school is funded by your tax dollars and is virtually free. While there aren’t any tuition fees, there will still be yearly school fees and possibly extra charges for such things as school supplies, field trips and special educational events.
  • Children from all walks of life are accepted, and this will give your child the opportunity to interact with a culturally, socially and economically diverse peer group.
  • Public schools have a set curriculum.
  • Most public schools have specific zoned boundaries, so your child will attend school with their neighbourhood friends.
  • Public schools may have extracurricular or speciality programs at no additional cost.
  • They will have a diversified program or modified curriculum available for special needs students.
  • All children are accepted without an entrance exam or application.


  • With the exception of special needs programs, the school curriculum is generally inflexible. This may affect gifted children or those who are struggling in certain areas.
  • School funding is dependent on the government, and as such, may be affected by budget cutbacks for program development and educational supplies.
  • Classrooms are often too large and overcrowded.

Private school


  • Private schools encourage parent involvement. While public schools welcome parents as well, private schools tend to encourage parental involvement by hosting family social events and offering several opportunities to meet with the teachers.
  • They may offer specialized curriculums to accommodate levels of higher learning, with such programs as advanced placement classes or specific extracurricular activities.
  • Private schools have smaller class sizes and a lower teacher-to-student ratio than public schools.
  • They offer a high level of education and activites.
  • They will generally have a disciplined, focused and motivated student body.
  • Your child’s attending a private school may help with gaining admission to the post-secondary program of your child’s choice.


  • Private schools are expensive, as they require yearly tuition fees that vary by school and grade.
  • There are costly additional charges for such school necessities as uniforms, transportation and school membership.
  • Your child will likely have to travel outside your neighbourhood to attend the school. This can mean lengthy travel times, and your child might not go to school with neighbourhood friends.
  • Some schools may have wait lists or application requirements that make getting into the school difficult.

Charter school


  • Charter schools offer innovative educational programs while still following the basic provincial curriculum.
  • They have more autonomy than public schools do and can develop their own school policies.
  • Charter schools are provincially funded and don’t charge tuition fees.
  • They are held accountable for the school’s academic results.
  • They have small class sizes.


  • Charter schools are not available Canada wide. Currently Alberta is the only province to offer charter schools as an education option.
  • Due to the limited number and locations of the charter schools available, it may be difficult for your child to get into one.

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