Special Education Programs and Funding - Independent Schools

 Date came into force or revised

October 31, 2016



Policy statement

Group 1 and 2 independent schools that provide educational programs for qualifying students with special needs may receive special education grants.

Rationale or purpose of policy

To ensure group 1 and 2 independent schools enrolling qualifying students with special needs receive grants to support the provision of special education services in order to meet the special needs of the qualifying students


Policy in full

Special Education grants are made available to Group 1 and 2 independent schools that provide a special education program to qualifying students as determined by the Independent School Act.

Special education grants are a specific type of special purpose grant. To access supplementary special needs funding, Group 1 and 2 independent schools claim special needs categories on Form 1701 in the September and February data collections. All students claimed must meet the specific provincial eligibility criteria for the funding category claimed as outlined in the Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PDF) and the Special Education Services: Category Checklist (PDF).

Students claimed for special education funding must be receiving an additional service which:

  • is over and above the regular educational program
  • is clearly identifiable as a Special Education Program or service; and,
  • requires additional expenditures on the part of the school.

Special Education Grant Levels and Specific Categories

Information about funded special needs categories is available in Section E of the provincial document, Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PDF).

Schools should review the diagnostic requirements and programming information for special needs categories prior to claiming special needs.

Per-student special education funding levels are comprised of the following categories per the current year’s funding rates for Independent Schools. 

  • Level 1 
    • Physically Dependent (A)
    • Deafblind (B)
  • Level 2
    • Moderate to Profound Intellectual Disability (C)
    • Physical Disability or Chronic Health Impairment (D)
    • Visual Impairment (E)
    • Deaf or Hard of Hearing (F)
    • Autism Spectrum Disorder (G)
  • Level 3
    • Intensive Behaviour Interventions or Serious Mental Illness (H)

Special Education Schools Funding:

Designated Special Education Schools that meet the following criteria are eligible for an additional Special Education grant of $2000 per FTE as determined by the 1701 reporting criteria:

  • Enroll students with special needs exclusively and maintain evidence of special needs category eligibility, in accordance with special education guidelines
  • Maintain 1:6 educator/student ratio

Reporting and Funding

Reporting Date Funding Amount Payment 1 Payment 2
September 1701 100% 75% on or before November 30th 25% on or before June 30th
February 1701 (increased enrolment in levels 1,2  or 3)* 50% 25% on or before March 30th 25% on or before June 30th

*Only applicable if there is a net increase in enrolment (by Special Needs Level) by Authority from the September count.

Procedures related to policy

Students claimed must be assessed by appropriately qualified professionals. These professionals may include psychologists, teachers of the hearing impaired, teachers of the visually impaired, and developmental assessment teams such as those at Sunny Hill Hospital for Sick Children, B.C. Children's Hospital, or local Child Development Centers. Each student claimed for special education grant funding must have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) as outlined in Section 1.1 of Ministerial Order 41/91, the Educational Standards Order (PDF). The special education program or service must be in place before funding is provided.

Independent school authorities and their administration team will be required to demonstrate during compliance audits that the special education grants received have been expended to meet the special needs of the qualifying student or students. Additionally, the Special Education Funding: Parent/Guardian Confirmation Form (PDF) required annually for all students claimed for funding and/or on an IEP, enables authorities and school administrators to demonstrate parental consultation regarding funding claims and IEP development at external evaluations and monitoring inspections.

Schools must ensure that each qualifying student has a complete and current Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Case Management Plan (CMP). Schools may refer to the Guidelines for Completion and Presentation of IEP's (PDF) and to additional information located at Individual Education Planning for Students with Special Needs.

Special education funding for needs described below is included in the regular operational grants issued to independent schools. Therefore, the following categories do not qualify for supplementary special education funding or grants:

  • English Language Learning (ELL) 
  • ADD and ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) 
  • Learning Assistance 
  • Speech and Language Services 
  • Learning Disabilities, including Severe Learning Disabilities (SLD) 
  • Mild Intellectual Disabilities (Mild Mental Handicap) 
  • Giftedness 

Designated Special Education Schools

A designated SES school is a Group 1 or 2 independent bricks and mortar school that provides highly specialized educational programs and a tailored learning environment for a unique group of students with a range of special educational needs, who require services and supports above and beyond what is available in a regular classroom setting.

There are 14 designated Special Education Schools:

School Name: Year of designation
Artemis Place 2016/2017
Children's Hearing and Speech Centre of BC (formerly known as the Vancouver Oral Centre for Deaf Children) 1991/1992
Choice School for the Gifted and Exceptional 2016/2017
Discovery School 1991/1992
Fawkes Academy 2016/2017
Fraser Academy 1991/1992
Honour Secondary School 2016/2017
James Cameron School 1991/1992
Kenneth Gordon School 1991/1992
Greater Heights Learning Academy (formerly Mediated Learning Academy) 2016/2017
PALS Autism School 2016/2017
Purpose Independent Secondary School 2016/2017
Whytecliff Agile Learning Centre (Langley) 2016/2017
Whytecliff Agile Learning Centre (Burnaby) 2016/2017

The Ministry of Education may review the Special Education School policy in the future.  No new Special Education Schools are currently being designated.

Additional Special Education Supports

Auditory Training Equipment (ATE) 

Assessment of the need for Auditory Training Equipment is provided by the Ministry of Health Services. Funding for purchase, repair, routine maintenance, replacement and monitoring of provincial requirements for Auditory Training Equipment in the B.C. public schools and Group 1 and 2 independent schools is provided through the Ministry of Education through a protocol agreement with the Ministry of Health Services. The local Health Unit or Health Department audiologist is responsible for ongoing monitoring and adjustment of the equipment.

For information regarding the rental of appropriate auditory training equipment, please see Appendix H.2.1 in the B.C. Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PDF).

Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) 

The Ministry of Education has established a central pool of essential specialized instructional resources that may be borrowed at no cost by school districts and Group 1 and 2 independent schools enrolling visually impaired students. In addition, through a national interlibrary loan agreement, PRCVI is able to access resources held in all other educational resources centres for the visually impaired in Canada.

For information regarding the borrowing of specialized educational resources, please see Appendix H.2.3 in the B.C. Special Education Services: A Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PDF).

Special Education Technology-BC (SET-BC) 

SET-BC is a Provincial Resource Program established to assist school districts, and Group 1 and 2 independent schools in supporting educational programs of students with special needs through the use of technology. Additional information about the SET-BC application process for independent schools is available on this SET-BC website.

SET-BC services are limited to students currently claimed for supplementary special education funding in Category A, B, C, D, E, or G, and whose access to the curriculum is restricted by his disability.

Schools that have students who may qualify for SET-BC services must complete and submit a SET-BC Screening Form to the Independent Schools Branch. SET-BC accepts Screening Forms three times a year. The dates for submissions are posted to the independent schools' e-board.

ARC-BC (Accessible Resource Centre - British Columbia) 

ARC-BC is a B.C. Ministry of Education funded response to the increasing demand for digital or alternate format alternatives to print in B.C. classrooms. ARC-BC is a collection of alternate format materials for students with perceptual challenges and is based on recommended resources for the B.C. K-12 curriculum.

Access to ARC-BC is limited to registered users only. The following provide information about applying and registering for ARC-BC: