Question and Answers

How do I determine the schools accreditation, and will my sons credits/diploma be recognized?

My name is Paula. My son is in grade 4 at Thor College in Cookstown-ON. They are registered with the Ontario ministry as elementary/secondary, academic, broad-based curriculum. I just found out that they offer no credits towards Ontario secondary school diploma by the ministry of education. How does this affect my child's future towards his diploma and applying for universities or college. They are not a member of any association, but the teachers are in good standing.

Expert Answer

Parents who send their children to independent schools, elementary or secondary, should be savvy consumers and determine whether the school of choice meets or exceeds the standards of the Ontario curriculum. Parents want to be sure that if their children ever need to transfer to a publicly funded school, whether at elementary, secondary or post-secondary levels, they would be able to do so seamlessly.

All independent schools wishing to issue high school credits towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) must be successfully inspected by the Ministry of Education every other year and maintain the standards of the Ontario Curriculum. Principals of successfully inspected schools become agents of the Ministry, able to grant credits to students on the province’s behalf. Schools that do not submit to the private secondary school inspection process may grant credits but they may not be recognized by the Ministry and those schools may not issue the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Many colleges and universities expect students to have an OSSD. Some students who are not in OSSD credit granting high schools find they have to attend beyond grade 12 at a publicly funded or ministry inspected school in order to gain the necessary additional credits to get the Ontario Secondary School Diploma and attend the college or university of their choice.

Even though the school in question is registered as an OFIS member on the MOE website, it is not and has not been a member of the association (please check our website listings for verification). Several efforts to contact the school to have it rectify its ministry listing have not been returned. OFIS continues to work with the Ministry of Education in providing parents with good information to make their school choices.

Answered by Barb Bierman, Executive Director of the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools

Parent Answers & Comments

George Briggs, Executive Director, CIS Ontario wrote:
There are a number of advantages to choosing a school that belongs to a professional association.

* Membership in an association, such as the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS), requires schools to meet certain criteria. In order to be a member of CIS, a school must have an independent Board of Governors that provides oversight to the administration of the school. This leads to a high degree of accountability that may not be present in a singular private school.

* Membership usually requires schools to pay dues to the association. In CIS, these dues are used to offer professional development programmes for teachers and staff in our schools. Our member schools are therefore making a commitment to ongoing professional development which will lead to a high quality education for our students.

* In order to be a member of CIS, schools must offer an academic programme that prepares students for university. Students in our JK to 8 divisions are assumed to be on a university track as well.

* CIS operates one of the largest athletic associations in Ontario and is a member association of OFSSA. Students are provided with many opportunities to compete in athletics at a variety of levels. CIS also runs a music festival at Roy Thompson Hall, an annual drama festival and a dance festival. These wonderful opportunities for student participation are only open to CIS member schools and their students.

* in conclusion, the advantages of belonging to CIS an best be summarized by our mission statement. "CIS is an association of Ontario independent schools working together to support member schools in their missions to prepare students for the 21st century."

To learn more about George Briggs, visit

Sarah Rainsberger, Alternative University Admissions Enthusiast wrote:
It doesn't matter whether the teachers themselves are in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers, the school itself must be accredited in order to offer credits toward the OSSD. Obviously, the school can not provide your son with the OSSD itself, either.

Fortunately, there are several ways to apply to post secondary education with out a high school diploma. These methods are most often employed by homeschooled students, but they really are intended for any student without an OSSD upon application to a university.

So, if you have a private school that you really like, and decide that it's worth staying in the school even if it means applying to university non-traditionally, then you don't have to worry about the accreditation.

And certainly, you don't have to worry about it now while he's only in Grade 4. The K-8 system is not credit based, and therefore he's missing nothing by not being at an accredited school up to and including Grade 8. You may find that it's desirable to switch into an accredited school for Grade 9, or you may decide that applying as a non-OSSD holding student isn't that big a deal.

For more information about applying to a Canadian (especially Ontario) university without an OSSD, you can visit:

Elke Ranjbar wrote:
Can a school partner with a foreign learning institution, issue their diploma a have it accepted at a Canadian University?

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