Skip to main content
#LateNotLessRead more

Resource Guide

Online Learning, Alternative Learning and Homeschool 

October 1st, 2021


For Caregivers

Well before the pandemic changed the way students go to school, our community found homeschooling and online learning a valuable way to teach our children, sometimes our only option. In this blog, you will find information and resources to help guide and connect you as you navigate the many options available in BC.
School Options in BC 

Public School 

In person (IP) schools, often referred to as “brick & mortar”, public schools are your local school(s) open to all students. Offering K-12 education some school districts also offer Strong Start programs for children under age 5. 

Public schools offer in person classes, online learning and blended models between the two. Typically, if you live in an area with a neighbourhood school, that is called your ‘catchment’ school. If you desire your child to attend a school outside of your catchment area, you need to apply for cross boundary registration and that enrollment in the school depends on the availability of designated spaces for your child’s grade.  

Application for cross boundary is typically on a year-to-year basis and no guarantee of acceptance even if your child or a sibling attended the school in the previous year(s). Some schools operate under a lottery system rather than a first-come, first-serve waitlist. Cross boundary will consider how many designated spots are in your child’s grade and if there is space for any additional designations, priorities are always for in-catchment registrations.  

In BC, the Ministry of Education uses an Inclusive Education approach. You can read more about your child’s rights to inclusive education here in the 6th edition of the InclusionBC Parent Handbook: Parent Handbook on Inclusive Education – Advocacy Resources, Inclusive Education – Inclusion BC 

Independent School 

Independent schools are regulated by the Independent School Act overseen by the Ministry of Education. Independent schools offer Distributed Learning (now called Online Learning), and some have brick and mortar locations as well. 

Private schools also fall under the Independent School Act and can be operating as secular and non-secular.  Acceptance into private schools with a designation is dependent on the school’s ability to support your child’s needs. If you are exploring private education, our best advice would be to connect with other families in the area who have an autistic child who attends the school and what their experiences have been. Private schools do have the right to deny your child acceptance into their program if they feel they cannot support your child adequately.  

Find out more about private school options and costs:  

Private Schools – Autism Funding in BC ( 

Education Options in BC 


“Homeschooling is typically led by a home educator (a parent or guardian) who delivers an educational program to a child at home. Homeschoolers are not eligible to receive a B.C. Certificate of Graduation. 

Homeschooling programs are not: 

  • Supervised by a B.C.-certified teacher 
  • Required to meet provincial standards 
  • Inspected by the Ministry of Education” 

Government of BC 2021 

Sometimes referenced as unschooling, homeschooling students are not registered with government accredited schools. Their educational programs are not regulated by the Ministry of Education and students are not eligible for funding. 


Online Learning 

Online Learning (formally Distributed Learning) is offered by both public and independent schools. 

Distributed Learning (now Online Learning) schools are BC Ministry of Education or government funded schools that offer choice in how the BC curriculum is delivered to students who choose to learn outside of a regular “brick and mortar” school. 

 Distributed Learning programs are: 

  • Supervised by a B.C.-certified teacher 
  • Required to meet provincial standards 
  • Inspected by the Ministry of Education 

Distributed Learning (DL) is now called Online Learning (OL). 

“Both public and independent online learning schools offer online classes. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 7 must take a full course load at one school, while students in Grades 8 to 12 may learn from home entirely or learn at school and take some courses online.” Government of BC 2021 

To review the full online learning interim policy for students with special needs: Online Learning Policy – Students with Special Needs (Interim) – Province of British Columbia ( 

When to Enroll? 

If you are starting your school journey and entering Kindergarten, enrollment usually begins January or February for the school year beginning September of that year. You can help this transition go smoothly by: 

  • Before the first day, try to visit the school and tour your child’s new classroom.  
  • Meet with school staff and share your child’s strengths, needs, interests and difficulties. 
  • Ask about necessary support and materials your child needs 
  • Involve your current support team in this transition 
  • Contact the District Inclusive Education staff member for your area. District staff typically work through the summers or return a couple weeks ahead of the start of the school year.
  • Check out our Back to School Planning Blog for more tips. 

If you are enrolling in your local public school…. 

If you are starting a new school or changing schools mid-year enroll as soon as possible. Even while not taking full enrollment information most schools will have a waitlist for students, often accepted on a first come, first serve basis as spots become available. You can be on several waitlists.  

If you live within a school’s catchment area, they are obligated to enroll your student. 

If you live outside a school’s catchment area enrollment will be subject to space and available resources. 



If you have a student with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis the Ministry of Children & Families gives the Ministry of Education access to additional funding. While these supplemental funds are not targeted for individual students, they are intended to support inclusion. This funding is defined as Special Needs Level 2, Autism Spectrum Disorder, category G. 

K-12 Funding – Special Needs 


How do schools use the funding they receive from the Ministry of Education? 

Public School Districts: 

Public school districts us what is described as a pooled funding method. All funding goes into a general pool for all schools and each district will ask for the resources and support they need for their schools and students. Communication with your school team, participation in the IEP process and support with advocating are important to ensuring your child’s needs are being heard and addressed. 

Independent Schools: 

Although some Independent schools may use a pooled funding method similar to the public system, most often a portion of the funds received for a student are assigned as a budget to assist in providing supports and resources necessary to reach goals outlined in a student’s IEP. The budget amount will vary depending on the school, expense decisions are made as a team and must directly relate to IEP goals.  

Have you heard about the changes in the 2022/23 school year? There are currently few public details available, but all current policies can be found here: Public School Policies 

There are also many ways to join in the conversation and advocate! 

Immediate Attention & Action Needed Regarding Education Changes in BC 


Protect BC IDL and DL Schools – Facebook Group 


Independent Schools in BC: 

Alderwood Family Development Centre

Anchor Academy 

Ascend Online 

Bulkley Valley Christian DL 


Christian Homelearners eStreams 


Fawkes Academy 

Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS) 

iLearn Secondary 

Island Discover Learning Community 

Kleos Open Learning 

Oak & Orca 

Pathways Academy 

Regent Christian Online Academy (RCOA) 


Traditional Learning Acadamy (TLA) 

Valley Christian School 

Wescoast Adventist School (WCAS) 


Learning Centres: 

Lower Mainland: 

Fawkes Academy – Imagine, Believe, Achieve. 

Eaton Arrowsmith


Vancouver Island: 

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization- NUKO Learning Center  

Let Me Be Me Learning Foundation ( 

Claro Life – Home 

Blackbird Special Education Nanaimo ( 

Pivot Point Community Classrooms 

Home – Oak and Orca 

Home Learning Forest School – Oak and Orca 

Navigate Programs | Blended Learning | Online Learning in BC ( 

(NIDES does not have designation funding privileges, but is a blended learning program. NUKO access NIDES for their learning centre) 

A Taste of Learning

Therapeutic Education – Footholds Therapy Centre 


Learning Centres – Claro Life 

Vista Academy  

Penticton Excel – Centre for Exceptional Learning 

Cranbrook – Pivot Point Learning Centres


Northern BC: 

PG – Gateway Behaviour Services – Learning Centre 

Smithers – Edge Learning Centre | Facebook  


What About Graduation? 

There is so much to consider when looking at what graduation for your child may look like. This will be an evolving journey and decisions should be made with your child involved as much as possible. Learning about the different types of graduation certificates and programs and how they may affect post-secondary options will help you feel prepared to make these choices as they arise. 


“The B.C. Certificate of Graduation or “Dogwood Diploma” is awarded to students who successfully complete the provincial graduation requirements.” Government of BC 2021 


“The School Completion (“Evergreen”) Certificate is intended to celebrate success in learning that is not recognized in a Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma). The Evergreen Certificate is not a graduation credential; students who receive an Evergreen have not graduated. It is important that students and their parents clearly understand that the Evergreen represents the completion of personal learning goals but does not represent graduation.” Government of BC 2021 

Adult Dogwood (Adult Graduation Diploma Program) 


Adapted and Modified Programs: What is the Difference? 

Adapted: Any changes or supports needed to help a student meet Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLO) and obtain a Dogwood diploma. All accommodations should be noted in a student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan). 

“Teaching and assessment strategies made to accommodate a student’s special needs, and may include alternate formats (e.g., Braille, books-on-tape), instructional strategies (e.g., use of interpreters, visual cues and aids) and assessment procedures (e.g., oral exams, additional time, assistive technologies). Adaptations enable achievement toward the learning outcomes of the provincially prescribed curriculum.” Government of BC 2021 

Modified: Changes to a student’s learning plan that work towards personal goals and don’t require meeting Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLO). Students on modified programs work towards an Evergreen Certificate. 

“Modifications are a form of accommodation which establish learning outcomes specifically designed to meet a students’ special needs. Modified learning outcomes are substantially different from those within provincially prescribed curriculum.” Government of BC 2021 



DL Distributed Learning (Now Online Learning) 

OL Online Learning (Formally Distributed Learning) 

IDL Independent Distributed Learning 

IOL Independent Online Learning 

OSP Online Service Provider 

IOSP Independent Online Service Provider 

IDL Independent Directed Studies 

IEP Individualized Education Plan 

HS Homeschooling 

HL Home Learner 

PLO Prescribed Learning Outcomes 

BCAGD Adult Graduation Diploma Program 


Peer Support 

Comox Valley Homeschoolers 

SN Home Learning Families in BC 


BC Government Online Learning – This is the best place to find out directly what is happening to online learning this year, what to expect next year, and how to sign up for online learning. (BC Gov 2022).

BC Course Curriculum 

The C.O.D.E Initiative 



BC Home Educators Association 

Home School Canada 

Indigenous Education in BC 


Guide to Individual Education Plan 

Autism Q&A Helpful and Unhelpful School Experiences  

Autism Q&A : A Guide to IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) in BC  

Staff Sharing: Education Accessibility & Advocacy  

Theme Resource: Distributed Learning, Online Learning and Homeschool  

AutismBC Connects: Facing Ableism in the School System   

Back to School Planning 


Do you have something to contribute? See something that needs updating? Contact us. 


Skip to content