External Evaluation and Inspection for Independent Schools

Date came into force or revised




Policy statement

Independent schools are subject to external evaluation and inspections for the purposes of issuing or renewing certificates of group classification.

Rationale or purpose of policy

The external evaluation and inspection of independent schools is to ensure that all schools meet, and maintain, the legislated standards and requirements for their certificate of group classification under the Independent School Act (PDF).


Policy in full

Independent schools are scheduled for external evaluations and monitoring inspections based on their group classification as set out in sections 2, 3, and the Schedule of the Independent School Act (PDF).

Group 1 and 2 schools delivering a non–Distributed Learning (DL) program

  • are evaluated by an External Evaluation Committee at least once every 6 years, and 
  • receive a monitoring inspection every 2 years.

Group 1 and 2 schools delivering a DL program

  • are evaluated by an External Evaluation Committee at least once every two years, and
  • receive a monitoring inspection in the alternate years between.

Group 4 schools

  • are evaluated by an External Evaluation Committee at least once every two years, and
  •  receive a monitoring inspection in the alternate years between .

Group 3 schools

  • are inspected by a Ministry representative every two years.

The external evaluation of schools (Group 1, 2, and 4) is a comprehensive exercise that examines the school's program, facilities, curriculum, operations and teacher certification to ensure that the school meets all basic statutory requirements. Such evaluations are carried out by External Evaluation Committees appointed by the Inspector of Independent Schools.

 The inspection of Group 3 schools is limited to ensuring that the requirements for Group 3 schools in the Independent School Act are being met.

Schools for which authorities plan to extend group classification beyond the grades currently identified on the Certificate of Group Classification may be subject to a program evaluation. Schools should advise the Inspector in writing as soon as possible outlining the plans for adding grades. The Inspector will subsequently advise the authority with respect to the process leading to an extension of group classification.

Monitoring Inspection Process

The monitoring inspection process for independent schools is distinct from the external evaluation process. Monitoring inspections are conducted between external evaluations, for the purpose of ensuring ongoing compliance with the Independent School Act and the Regulations and Orders made under the Independent School Act, and for noting new developments and changes in the schools.

Procedures related to policy

Procedures for External Evaluations

The fundamental purpose of external evaluations is to assure the Inspector of Independent Schools, the Minister of Education and the public that independent schools satisfy the requirements of the Independent School Act (PDF).

External Evaluation Committees

External Evaluation Committees are appointed to assist the Inspector in the classification of independent schools. The Inspector names the members and specifies their duties (Independent Schools Act, section 3). External Evaluation chairs are experienced acting or retired Independent School administrators or retired public school superintendents or assistant superintendents.

The size and composition of External Evaluation Committees varies according to the nature and size of the school. Committee members, which include primary, intermediate and graduation program specialists, may be contracted from various independent schools. The Federation of Independent School Associations (FISA) forwards nominations for committee members to the Inspector of Independent Schools.
An External Evaluation Committee spends a minimum of two days in an independent school that is being evaluated.

External Evaluation Process and Procedure

Prior to an external evaluation, group 1, 2, and 4 schools complete an Evaluation Report to provide the External Evaluation Committee with an up-to-date summary regarding the philosophy, administration, educational program, facilities and resources of the school. The Committee uses this completed Report to gain an understanding of the school, and confirms through its visit that the reported information accurately reflects the current school situation.

Although external evaluations may be scheduled at any time, the main evaluation period is in October or November. The Independent School Act requires that the independent school authority assist the External Evaluation Committee by making relevant information available and by providing access to classrooms during instruction and to other areas of the school.

The Committee strives to balance a respect for the educational autonomy given to independent schools with the program requirements as defined by legislation. Through classroom visitations and examination of course overviews, teacher planning, student assessment, and school timetable, the Committee determines whether the school's educational program meets the requirements set out in Ministerial Order 41/91, the Educational Standards Order.

Compliance with other legislative and non-legislative requirements is verified by examining school policies, safety practices, teacher assignments and certification, and principal certification. The Committee also examines the student records, school policies, safety practices, and financial statements. The Committee reviews the school’s operational policies including student safety (reporting of child abuse, anti-bullying, supervision, etc), student records, various administrative protocols such as parent/teacher appeals, assessment and reporting of student achievement (course challenge, equivalency, etc) as well as the provision of special education services for students approved for level 1,2 or 3 funding.

 The Federation of Independent School Associations, in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Child Care, has provided a document entitled Procedural Fairness: Best Practice Guidelines for Independent Schools (PDF). Schools' appeals policies and procedures should reflect the guidelines presented.

External Evaluation Committee Report

At the conclusion of the external evaluation, the External Evaluation Committee prepares an External Evaluation Report of its findings for the Inspector. The major purpose of this Report is to indicate whether or not the school meets the requirements for a specific group classification. The Report may refer to statutory requirements, which must be met by the date specified, in order for a school to obtain or maintain a group classification.

The Report may also include policy issues that the school authority is to discuss and follow up on with a response to the Inspector by the date specified. The final paragraph in the Report states the Committee's recommendation to the Inspector regarding the granting of group classification.

The External Evaluation Report is accessible to the public under conditions specified in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Action Following Report

Following completion of the External Evaluation Report, the Inspector or a person designated by the Inspector meets with representatives of the independent school authority or board, the principal (and, on request of the authority, with teachers) to review the Report, answer questions, and discuss any issues arising from the Report.Appealing or Correcting an External Evaluation Report.

An independent school authority may request a change to the External Evaluation Report in writing if it believes the Report contains factual errors. The following are steps in this procedure:

  • The independent school authority may request the factual correction by submitting suggested changes to the Inspector in writing (with supporting documentation to verify the correction desired) or raising the concerns during the Inspector's follow-up visit or both.
  • If deemed correct and necessary, the Inspector will confirm the proposed change with the External Evaluation Committee Chair.
  • The corrected External Evaluation Report is then placed in the Ministry's school file and a copy is sent to the school authority.

Should an independent school authority believe that an unfair judgment or conclusion is made in the External Evaluation Report; the authority may submit its own written explanation or correction. This submission may be attached as an addendum to the Report. The submission must include a request to the Inspector for it to be attached as an addendum to the Report, and be dated and signed by the school authority.

Procedures for Monitoring Inspection

Under the monitoring inspection program

  • Group 1 and 2 schools delivering a non-DL program are monitored in the second and fourth year following an external evaluation.
  • Group 1 and 2 schools offering a DL program are monitored in the alternate years following an external evaluation. 
  • Group 4 schools are monitored in the alternate years following an external evaluation. 
  • Group 3 schools are inspected by a Ministry representative every two years.

The Inspector, the Deputy Inspector or an individual designated by the Inspector of Independent Schools generally conducts the monitoring inspections.

Monitoring inspections may review some or all of the areas identified by the legislation.

 Preparation for Monitoring Inspection

A Monitoring Inspection Checklist is provided to assist schools in their preparation for a monitoring inspection.

Items that will be examined during the monitoring inspection include:

  • records of municipal compliance
  • fire and earthquake safety procedures 
  • school policies 
  • financial records 
  • teacher files (certification and criminal record checks) 
  • course overviews
  • documentation of the provision of special education services for students approved for level 1,2 or 3 funding.