Independent schools are regulated by the Independent School Act (PDF). The Independent Schools Branch administers the Act as well as any regulations, Minister’s orders and inspector’s orders made under the Act.
Responsibilities of the Independent Schools Branch include:
- Issuing or amending orders to provide operational administration of the Independent School Act
- Ensuring that all B.C. independent schools maintain necessary standards
- Inspecting and classifying all K-12 independent schools in B.C.
- Issuing operational, special education and homeschool registration grants to qualifying independent schools
- Administrating independent school distributed learning programs and homeschooling policies
- Initiating legal action on behalf of the Ministry of Education when non-compliance issues arise
Operating an Independent School
Specific processes and guidelines are used in the day-to-day operations of an independent school — starting from the initial setup.
- Manual of School Law, Independent School Act, Orders and Regulations
- Ministry of Education policies and procedures
- Legislation and regulations related to independent schools
In addition to polices that are legislated, independent schools will strive to ensure that every child feels safe, accepted and respected regardless of individual differences by developing school-specific policies that outline responsibilities of administrators, teachers and students in certain situations.
Anaphylaxis: Clear policies and procedures are required for treating anaphylactic children. Review the Anaphylactic and Child Safety Framework.
Appeals: Policies and procedures will promote consistency and fairness in the decision-making process and provide a way for students and parents to appeal decisions. Review the guide: Procedural Fairness: Best Practices for Independent Schools (PDF).
Bullying prevention: Set clear expectations for acceptable behaviour and hold students accountable by enforcing bullying and violence prevention policies and codes of conduct. Read more about safe, caring and orderly schools.
Reporting child abuse: The Child, Family and Community Service Act indicates that anyone who has reason to believe a child is in need of protection must report the matter to the Ministry of Children and Family Development. In developing policies and procedures concerning suspected child abuse and neglect, independent schools should refer to Supporting Our Students: A Guide for Independent School Personnel Responding to Child Abuse (PDF).
Discipline: This type of policy will outline a school’s philosophy on discipline, the types of behaviour that may result in disciplinary action being taken and procedures to be followed when taking disciplinary action. See Procedural Fairness: Best Practices for Independent Schools (PDF).
Emergency response & drills: Develop a plan for responding to emergencies such as a school fire, earthquake or accident. Include a schedule for regular drills to ensure everyone is familiar with emergency procedures.
Graduation program credits: Sections 5(8) and 5(9) of the Educational Standards Order (PDF) refers to options for obtaining graduation credits and the relevant sections of the Graduation Program Order (PDF) that apply. Note that some of these options require an independent school authority to establish specific processes – for example, an equivalency review process or challenge process.
Homeschooling: Independent schools may register a child who is being educated at home and must provide access to educational services. Evaluation and assessment services normally offered to students of the school must also be made available to registered homeschoolers free of charge. Develop a policy to ensure consistent procedures for registration and access to educational services for homeschoolers. Review the ministry's homeschooling policy.
Privacy: Independent school authorities must also have policies and procedures in place for complying with the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).
- Read more about PIPA for independent schools
Special education: Independent Schools receive additional funding for students with special needs. According to sections 5.1 to 5.3 of the Educational Standards Order (PDF), independent schools must have policies in place for special education program admission and delivery. This includes a policy to outline requirements for awarding a School Completion Certificate (Evergreen Certificate).
Student records: Under the Independent Schools Regulation, written procedures for the storage, retrieval and appropriate use of student records are required. For more information, please review:
- Personal Information and Protection of Privacy Act
- Student Records: Requirements and Best Practices (PDF)
- Student Records Order (PDF)
Student safety: A policy for student transportation, safety and supervision while away from the school on field trips and using facilities rented by the school.
Student supervision: A plan for providing appropriate student supervision before, during and after school hours for activities held in and around school facilities.
Teacher and principal evaluation: A policy regarding the cycles and processes used for evaluation.