Top Three Reasons Ontario Kids Attend Independent School: Safety, Support, and Character Development


67% of parents with kids in Ontario independent schools made major financial changes to afford tuition


September 10, 2019

OTTAWA, ON – There are more than 138,000 students in Ontario independent schools, rising 21% over the last decade. Today, the groundbreaking report Who Chooses Ontario Independent Schools and Why? is offering new insight into this phenomenon. Researchers who surveyed parents with kids in Ontario independent schools found the three top-ranked characteristics parents sought in a new school were a safe environment, a supportive and nurturing atmosphere, and an emphasis on character development.

“You don’t get this kind of growth in independent schools unless parents are genuinely – and in some cases desperately – looking for solutions that meet their kids’ needs,” says report co-author and Cardus Senior Fellow Dr. Deani Van Pelt. “When parents tell us they’re looking for school safety, it’s more than just safety from bullying; it’s a sense of confidence in the curriculum and trust in teachers and staff.”

Who Chooses Ontario Independent Schools and Why? also confirms previous research that found the parents who send their kids to Ontario independent schools are mainly regular folks:

  • 75% of them attended public schools growing up, with about 6 in 10 attending only public schools
  • 67% of them have had to make major financial adjustments to afford tuition, including adding a part-time job, taking out a loan, making other budget sacrifices, or getting help from family or friends
  • 54% of them have to come up with $8,000 or more  annually just for tuition for their kids’ schooling

“The fact that enrolment in Ontario independent schools continues to grow is notable, in part, because families that need this option have to pay every penny of it out of their own pockets,” says report co-author David Hunt. “But there are likely many more Ontario families that simply can’t afford an independent school, yet need one. It’s a matter of fairness for the provincial government to ensure that all families have equitable access to the full range of educational options in the province.”

Who Chooses Ontario Independent Schools and Why? is freely available online.


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508

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Topics: Education


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.