Independent Schools

Independent Schools

Independent schooling is a largely alternative method of schooling that uses independent, non-governmental funding to provide education. In the United States alone, independent schools contribute to only about 1% of the entire school-age population.

There are several ways that such a school may be funded, including increased tuition charges, gifts and even endowments. The main purpose of such schooling is to provide a style of educating that the particular board of directors may find more suitable, or rather to provide a more expensive but supposedly rewarding program.

Independent Schools3Differences

While these schools may be religiously affiliated, they should not be confused with private schools, who receive funding from both public and private donors, and must in some respects follow a government-appointed curriculum.The federal government has made a clear distinction between independent and parochial schools, the latter being run by religious affiliations such as a parish or diocese, and the former having their own board of trustees that determine the educational programs in the school. There are a few caveats however; the federal government does need to approve and accredit such schools using the same criteria that accredit regular public schools. The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) is an organization of institutions that function separately from government institutions, and they have agreed upon a set definition for an independent school.

One of the main ideologies behind independent schooling is as old as the country itself. Such institutions often vie for freedom from a particular ideologies they see unfit to the formation of their pupils. They also vie for the freedom to evaluate and determine the future of their students based on their own merits, this being to them a subjective aspect of education formation.
While there are far fewer students in independent primary and secondary schools, the majority of post-secondary colleges and universities are in fact independent, though the majority of students attend public universities.


One of the main advantages with independent school is that those who are funded independently may receive extremely large endowments or donations from former alumni, universities or corporations. This is the reason why some schools have garnered such large endowments and have maintained them; with tuition for the most expensive schools as high as $40,000 a year, those attending the school likely have a higher median income than the average citizen, and thus are able to reinvigorate the school with funding. Such a cyclical method of garnering income is reserved for the top tier of institutions, but it nevertheless creates a sense of disparity and envy between public and independent schools.

Independent Schools2Another advantage of independent schooling is the aspect of innovation it can bring to the table. While public schools need to adhere to either provincial or federal curricula, independent schools can be the first to implement other methods of teaching that may in time become the norm. One example of this is the implementation of technology in schools. During the rise of the internet, many schools were tentative to use it, but certain independent schools could, with better funds and a less stringent program, to change their educational procedure.

Independent schools may also provide more leniency for both parents and teachers. While parent teacher associations can be set up at public schools, it is possible for parents to discuss possible modifications to the curriculum based on the interest of the student. Likewise, it is possible for the pupil to determine their own path and speed if the teacher sees it fit. To put it succinctly, there are far fewer external constraints to the educating occurring inside the classroom.

Key Points

Independent schooling provides parents and students who seek a program offering different ideological or educational an alternative to public or parochial school. Self-funded and self-directed, these institutions may be able to provide better resources, a faster learning curve, as well as a more personalized education. One of the biggest appeals of independent schooling is that there is rarely a limit on how much can actually be put into the school, and large endowments in particular are great for offering an innovative educational experience.