Inspection Time

On Wednesday this week, the Ministry of Education’s annual inspection of the Mentor high school programme took place and as usual, we were told we were providing top-notch education for our students. Once the official “inspection” phase of the visit was completed, though, we took the opportunity to talk about the recent “2013 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario” (specifically Section 3.06 on Private Schools) to express some of the concerns we share with the Auditor General. Take a look at it yourself; it is just 22 pages and every parent involved in private school education should be interested in what it has to say.

Our main concern is with the supervision and inspection of private schools in general (and Mr. Philbrook thought he would never let me say that he wanted MORE government in our school!). There are over 1000 private schools in our province (400 of them registered to grant high school credits) but the equivalent of only 8 full-time staff members to deal with the regulation, inspection and data collection of these schools. In the past 5 years alone, the number of private high schools has increased by 25%. Mentor College and TEAM School agree with the Auditor General that the “Ministry provides very little oversight to ensure that private school students are receiving satisfactory instruction” and that the inspectors do “not have sufficient time” to investigate the 100 private high schools which require extra investigation because of complaints from the public, from school boards and from other private schools of over-inflated grades and inadequate course hours.

We are not “anti-inspection”; we welcome the opportunity to showcase our high school students’ work and the professionals who teach them. The more meticulous the inspector, the better! I am just sitting here and wondering if this day with Mentor College could have been better spent:

– revoking the accreditation of the 60% of private high schools who have yet to even submit the required information from two years ago (the 2011/12 school year)

– investigating potential “diploma fraud” for the 80 schools who were issued 3800 blank Ontario Secondary School Diplomas more than their submitted enrollment figures

– asking why 2/3 of all private school credits in Ontario are Grade 12 courses and then asking the Ontario universities if they would like to know the school where Grade 12 grades were issued

– investigating the private schools where the students are scoring as low as a 19% pass rate on provincially-standardized Grade 10 Literacy test yet requesting Ontario scholar certificates (for 80% overall averages) for all of their students

Many of the items in the Auditor General’s report will surprise you. Please feel free to ask if you would like anything clarified as far as our school is concerned and don’t hesitate to express your concerns (if you are concerned, as we are, that all private schools are affected by the poor reputation of some) to your local MPP or the Ministry of Education itself.

Chris Starkey
Administrative Principal
Mentor College / TEAM School

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