Is it best to send your children to a private secondary school or a public high school? This is the choice that faces many Toronto parents.
There are advantages to both and ultimately families must choose the option that works best for them, but it’s difficult to know how to begin evaluating the advantages and disadvantages. The following are areas to help you contrast and compare the two options:
Public school is, of course, government funded with taxpayer dollars and therefore there is no cost associated with attending. Private secondary schools in Toronto can cost anywhere from $5,000 per year upward to $30,000 per year, with most Toronto private school fees ranging from $15,000 - $20,000. However, many private secondary schools offer tuition assistance programs or scholarships and parents are often surprised by the fact that a portion of school fees may be tax-deductible. Also, private schools usually provide free instruction for activities that other parents have to pay extra for, including tutoring, music lessons, organized sports, dance and before and after-school care.
Private secondary school students consistently score higher on standardized academic tests. Private schools put a great emphasis on creating a culture of achievement, which is one of the prime motivating factors for students to excel. Expectations and standards are often much higher at private secondary schools where critical thinking and a good work ethic are required in order to complete the class work.
Both public and private schools require that teachers be credentialed, however private schools prefer to hire teachers with advanced degrees. Since private schools depend on maintaining their reputations in order to attract new students, the best private schools make sure that their academic programs are first-rate.
Private schools have more latitude with which to create courses, allowing them to offer advanced courses using university-level material and teaching techniques. These classes challenge motivated students and fully prepare them for post-secondary education.
Private schools tend to be based on certain core values. There are independent schools that are based on particular philosophies, Christian schools, military schools, gender-based schools and more. Parents can therefore choose a school that aligns with their own value system. Public schools by nature must encompass a more diverse range of values to cater to the mass public.
The best private schools have strict admission policies, with behavioural issues playing a deciding factor in the acceptance of certain students. If discipline issues do arise, they are quickly addressed by faculty, with expulsion being a very real possibility for any infraction of the rules, as set out in the contract that is signed between the students, parents and the school.
Leading educators recommend that classes should contain fewer than twenty pupils for optimum learning to occur. This allows teachers to lead productive discussions, assign more complex homework and spend one-on-one time with students. Private school classes are smaller than those in the public system.
Public schools tend to be large, while private schools have a smaller population. Simply by the nature of choosing a particular school, families are likely to have similar values with one another. Private school populations are more stable than those in the public system. All these factors help to foster a strong sense of community amongst families of private schools.
With such a wide variety of options available to them, the choice for secondary school students in Toronto has never been so rich and exciting.