Well before the pandemic changed the way students go to school, our community found homeschooling and distributed 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
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.
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.
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 (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
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
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.
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
Some DL (online schools) in BC:
Alderwood Family Development Centre
Bulkley Valley Christian DL
Christian Homelearners eStreams
Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS)
Island Discover Learning Community
Kleos Open Learning
Oak & Orca
Regent Christian Online Academy (RCOA)
Traditional Learning Acadamy (TLA)
Valley Christian School
Wescoast Adventist School (WCAS)
*this is not an exhaustive list
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
HL Home Learner
PLO Prescribed Learning Outcomes
BCAGD Adult Graduation Diploma Program
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 AutismBC
Do you have something to contribute? See something that needs updating? Contact us.