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Alberta Independent Schools' Enrolment Soars

Cardus study finds that Alberta independent schools show diversity, growth, and community focus


23 April, 2024

The cover of the Cardus research report called Exploring Alberta's Independent School Landscape: Diversity, Growth, and Trends

EDMONTON, AB – A new study by Cardus, a leading Canadian think tank, reveals that Alberta stands out as a shining example of diverse K-12 education in Canada. Exploring Alberta’s Independent School Landscape: Diversity, Growth, and Trends finds that Alberta has 180 independent schools serving more than 40,000 students, underlining the significant role these institutions play in the province’s education system.

Alberta boasts a unique blend of partially funded independent schools, which enrich the public education landscape. Meanwhile, a detailed analysis of the data shows that “elite” independent schools are rare in the province, accounting for less than 9% of all independent schools. Most independent schools are community-focused with fewer than 300 students.

Exploring Alberta’s Independent School Landscape also details the remarkable growth trajectory of independent school enrolment in Alberta, surging by an impressive 45% since the 2013-14 school year. This rate of growth is triple what public and separate schools have seen, suggesting increased demand for alternative educational pathways among Alberta’s families. Even so, only one net new independent school has opened in Alberta since 2013-14.

“Alberta’s diverse education landscape is a testament to the province’s commitment to empowering families with choice and fostering educational excellence,” says Joanna DeJong VanHof, a report co-author and Cardus researcher. “It’s critical that Alberta continues to champion meaningful pluralism in education, ensuring that all children have access to the learning environment that best suits them. Alberta should continue to support independent schools that adhere to provincial standards, while also facilitating innovative, new independent school start-ups.”

As Alberta continues to evolve as a hub of educational diversity, Cardus remains dedicated to advancing research-driven insights that inform policy decisions and contribute to the common good.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications

Cardus – Imagination toward a thriving society
Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society’s institutions can work together for the common good.