What is “home education”?
According to Alberta law, a “home education program” means “an education program provided by a parent to a student… but does not include any portion of an education program that is the responsibility of a board or an accredited private school to deliver” (see definitions section of the Home Education Regulation)
Therefore, “home education” in its technical sense is a distinction of authority, not location.
If the parent is in authority and providing the education program to their child then that program is defined as “home education” and therefore governed by the Home Education Regulation.
However, if any part of a child’s education program is provided by a teacher employed by a school - regardless of whether the learning/activities take place at home - then it is not classified by the government as “home education”. Instead, an increasingly common term being used for this type of program is a "school-at-home" (though this is not an official term used in law by the Alberta government).
Sometimes, there is an agreement where the parent provides part of a child’s program and a teacher employed by a school board, provides other parts of the program. The term currently being used by the Alberta government for this type of learning program is “shared responsibility” (in the past, the term “blended” has also been popularly used).
These distinctions are significant and important because they determine the coding designation that your child is registered as, which then directly determines the funding that is provided to the supervising school board from the government for the provision of the learning program.
Students designated as “home education” receive the lowest amount of funds and as the degree of teacher provision increases, so too does the funding allocation from the government to the supervising school board.
It should be noted the terms “aligned” or “traditional” are not terms that are currently used or mentioned in legislation used by the Alberta government.
Who operates home education programs in Alberta?
By law, all home education programs must be operated under the authority of either a private/independent school or by a public/Catholic school district. In law these are called an “associate board” or “associate private school”.
Said another way, home education programs cannot operate autonomously and can only exist under the authority and supervision of a brick and mortar private school or a public/Catholic school board.
When a parent completes a notification form (which is the way parents notify the government of their intent to home educate) then they notify with the associate board or associate private school which operates and supervises the home education program, NOT with the home education program.
The government "counts" and allocates funds to the supervising associate board or associate private school, based on enrollment as of September 30th. The board is then responsible for allocating money to the home education program accordingly.
The parent is eligible for resource reimbursement only for the components of their program that fall under the Home Education Regulation and, by law, the amount must be at least 50% of the total amount received by the associate board or associate private school from the government. In 2017/18, a parent providing a home education program was eligible for $836 in resource reimbursement.
It is very important for parents to be fully aware of the associate board or associate private school who supervises and operates their home education program because once they notify with that particular board then they are under the authority of their policies and regulations.
For example, with recent changes in law through Bill 24, it is important to know that all school boards in Alberta - including all of the ones supervising home education families - are required to have “safe and caring/anti-bullying” policies”. Parents must be informed about the policies of their associate board or associate private school so they understand under whose authority they are placing themselves and whether the policies and practices of that board are consistent with their family’s values and concerns. To learn more about how to locate and decipher the “safe and caring” policies of your school board, please watch out for the “Toolkit” resource coming soon that is being produced by Parents for Choice in Education.
Examples of some home education programs, along with the associate boards and private schools under which they operate, are listed below (NOTE: This is a sampling of some home education programs available in Alberta; being listed here does not equate to any sort of recommendation or endorsement):
- Argyll Centre operated by Edmonton Public Schools
- CFL - Centre for Learning@Home operated by Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools
- Education Unlimited operated by Harvest Baptist Academy
- Koinonia@Home operated by Koinonia Christian School (Red Deer)
- NorthStar Academy operated by Golden Hills School Division
- Roots Homeschooling and Streams Learning Home Education operated by Morinville Christian School
- Vermilion Homeschooling operated by East Central Alberta Catholic Schools
- St. Gabriel Learning Centre operated by Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools
- T.H.E.E. - Traditional Home Education Experts operated by Elk Island Catholic Schools
- WISDOM Home Schooling operated by Trinity Christian School Association
Who supervises home education?
According to section 4(2)(b) of the Home Education Regulation, "An associate board or associate private school supervising a home education program must arrange for teachers employed by the associate board or associate private school to conduct at least 2 evaluations of the progress of the student in each school year."
Generally these evaluations occur in a child’s home and happen in the fall and spring.
Principals employed by the associate board or associate private school are required, by law, to evaluate all teachers employed in their school (see School Act, section 20 (i)), which would include all teachers employed as facilitators in a home education program. Keep in mind a home education program administrator is not necessarily the principal. You may need to ask specific questions to determine the principal, as legally recognized by the Alberta government, who is responsible for evaluating the facilitating teachers in your home education program.
It is also worth knowing whether your teacher facilitator is obligated to be a member of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), and therefore required to operate under the authority and specific provisions of the ATA.
Generally, if a home education program operates under an associate private school then it is unlikely your facilitators would be members of the ATA (ask to make sure), whereas if your home education program is through a Catholic or public school board then your facilitator teacher would be obligated to be an ATA member as a condition of their employment.
For more in-depth information about home education in Alberta, please refer to resources available from the following home education organizations in Alberta: