Enrolment Growth in Independent Schools

By Deani Van Pelt  |  May 9th

Independent school enrolments are on the rise in Canada, and Ontario, the province educating more students than any other, is certainly no exception. Over the period from 2006-07 to 2019-20, StatCan data shows a 34 percent increase in students attending Ontario independent schools, climbing from 114,375 to 153,291 students.

This provincial growth is dramatic, perhaps even more so when one considers that over the same period, public school enrolments in Ontario declined by more than 2 percent (from 2,103,465 to 2,056,059 students).


Other provinces saw extraordinary growth in the independent school sector over the same 14 years as well, most notably in Saskatchewan (where independent school enrolments almost tripled), Prince Edward Island (nearly doubled), and New Brunswick (more than 50 percent growth).

This growth trend pre-COVID is remarkable. But how have enrolments changed during the pandemic?

National data from Statistics Canada do not yet include the most recent years, but recent data for our own subset of Ontario schools can be used as an indicator.

We have year-over-year enrolment data for 84 of the schools affiliated with Edvance. This data shows that from one pandemic year to the next, from 2020-21 to 2021-22, total enrolments increased from 15,130 to 16,435 students—an 8.6 percent increase in enrolment over a single year.

Most Edvance affiliate schools – 81 percent – experienced growth, in fact 30 percent of the 84-school subset saw over 15 percent growth in enrolments.

Another indicator of growth in the independent school sector is an increase in the number of schools. Again, take Ontario as an example. From one pandemic school year to the next (using data from June 2021 and April 2022), the number of independent schools on the provincial Ministry of Education list grew from 1,506 to a record-breaking 1,576 independent schools, a 4.6 percent increase. This is on top of 7.3 percent growth in the number of independent schools in Ontario the previous year, which was the first year of the pandemic.

Indeed, growth in the number of independent schools in recent years is staggering.

If we look back even further, ten years ago there were 954 independent schools in the province. Compared to the current total of 1,576 independent schools, this is an astonishing 65 percent growth in the number of independent schools in a single decade.

This also means that now, one in four schools in Ontario (24.9 percent) is an independent school.

More independent schools are opening. More families are choosing them.

What does this mean for Edvance affiliate schools? We are part of a sector experiencing growth—locally and nationally. Parents are seeking alternatives for the education of their children; and many are turning to Christian schools. If you or a community near you is thinking of opening the doors of a brand new independent Christian school, and have found a gap area either in pedagogy, philosophy, or geography, this really is the time for educational innovation and expansion.

We’d love to hear stories about how you are opening your doors to families that are searching for something better for their children.

As you pray and work together, our team at Edvance continues to pray and work for you. And if we can be of support in the growth you are experiencing or desiring, please reach out. We look forward to walking alongside you.

Deani Van Pelt is the President at Edvance, and Audrey Roorda is the Financial Services Administrator at Edvance.