What is Independent Education?

‘Independent’ Defined

Independent schools are not-for-profit and are overseen by an elected Board of Governors. They are licensed by the provinces in which they operate and must comply with provincial standards. CAIS schools have also met the rigorous standards set out by our accreditation process and have earned our seal of excellence.

Independent schools are not ‘private’ schools, though they are often referred to that way. The key difference is that private schools can be for profit and independent schools are not. Independent schools have charitable status and donations can be eligible for tax receipts.

‘Private’ Defined

Private schools are also independent in that they are not part of the public school system, but are for profit and may come in many different varieties of management structure. To be a CAIS member, a private school must have an independent Board of Governors and follow strict governance and professional development guidelines as part of their accreditation. In addition, they must meet all of the CAIS standards and undergo the same review process as any other member.

Philosophical Distinction of CAIS Independent & Private Schools

CAIS schools are unique from other schools in many ways.

As independent schools, they have the freedom to explore new horizons in education and create programs and environments that are designed specifically for the students they serve. They can stretch, create and be innovative, all while maintaining strict adherence to the highest academic standards. As a result, CAIS schools have consistently placed students in the best universities and colleges in North America and around the world. CAIS schools track their graduates to monitor their success and use that data to help improve or modify their programs to better meet the needs of students beyond high school.

CAIS schools also have the option of selecting students who will best coalesce with the school’s environment and community. In developing a student body that is consistent with the school’s mission, they ensure that the environment will be conducive to the type of learning and growth they envision for their students.


Top 10 Advantages of an Independent Education

Motivated, Highly Skilled Faculty

Independence means selecting faculty and staff whose qualifications can range from expertise in industry to PhDs. All are trained teachers, but many offer a broader range of experience to bring to the classroom. Teachers who choose an independent school are often those looking for more challenge and greater freedom to be innovative.

That’s a big win for our students!

Independent School Fast Facts

  • Independently governed by an elected Board of Governors, as opposed to a public school board.
  • Many have legal Foundations which are governed by an elected Board of Trustees, to receive charitable donations.
  • They must be licensed by their respective province and meet provincial standards.
  • They may elect to be accredited by CAIS to attain the highest, internationally recognized standards of excellence.
  • They may offer International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf or Montessori curriculum programs.
  • They provide an exceptional range of co-curricular opportunities that include leadership, community service, athletics, arts and international travel.
  • They meet stricter risk management measures and provide safe, nurturing environments for students.
  • They may be coeducational or single sex.
  • They may be day schools, boarding schools, or a combination.
  • They offer a growing range of financial aid in the form of bursaries or scholarships.
  • They are financed by tuition, charitable donations, and endowment revenue.