The following facts provide a snapshot of British Columbia’s K-12 education system.

Enrolment and schools

  • There are 1,571 public schools and 365 independent schools in B.C.
  • Pending final enrolment count in fall 2021, it is estimated by school districts that there will be 563,514 funded full-time equivalent (FTE) students in public schools for the 2021-22 school year. This would be an increase of 2,269 FTE from the 2020-21 school year. 
  • Based on student head count in public and independent schools in the 2020-21 school year, there were:
    • 78,305 students with special needs in the province, 1,073 more than the year before;
    • 72,149 Indigenous students in the province, 3,044 more than the year before;
    • 69,271 English language learning students in the province, 510 fewer than the year before;
    • 6,412 francophone students in the province, 214 more than the year before; and
    • 53,963 French immersion students in the province, 980 fewer than the year before.
  • Since 2015-16, public school class sizes have become smaller, while enrollment has increased by more than 2.7%.
  • The average class sizes by number of children this past school year were:
    • 21.4 in grades 8 to 12
    • 23.2 in grades 4 to 7
    • 19.2 in grades 1 to 3
    • 17.4 in kindergarten
  • Average kindergarten and grades 1 to 3 class sizes are down 12% since 2015-16.
  • Since 2015-16, class sizes for grades 4 to 7 are down 10.8% and down 8.5% for grades 8 to 12.

COVID-19 relief funding

  • In the 2020-21 school year, $288 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the Province and federal government was provided to school districts and independent schools to support:
    • additional cleaning of schools;
    • purchases of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment;
    • increased and enhanced hand washing and hand sanitizing stations;
    • upgrades and enhancements to school ventilation systems; and
    • hiring more than 2,000 new positions.
  • The Government of B.C. earmarked $18 million for school districts to use to support students who experienced learning impacts during the 2020-21 school year. School districts have flexibility to use this funding to address learning impacts in the best way to meet local needs.
  • In the 2021-22 school year, the Province is providing $25.6 million in new one-time funding:
    • $14.4 million for health and safety, cleaning and supplies
    • $5 million to support First Nations students and build capacity within First Nations Education Steering Committee and Métis Nation BC
    • $5 million for mental health services
    • $1.2 million for independent schools

Achievement – six-year completion rate 2019-20

  • 89.9% of all B.C. students completed high school in 2019-20 with a Dogwood or Adult Dogwood diploma.
  • 88.8% of English language learners completed high school in 2019-20.
  • 100% of francophone students in Conseil scolaire francophone school district completed high school in 2019-20.
  • 96.8% of French immersion students completed high school in 2019-20.
  • 71.1% of Indigenous students completed high school in 2019-20, an increase of 7.4% from 66.2% in the 2016-17 school year.
  • Outcomes for students with disabilities and diverse needs in B.C. are showing steady improvements. Completion rates were 73.9% last school year (2019-20), up from 60.3% 10 years ago.
  • 52% of students with disabilities and diverse needs made the transition to post-secondary within two or less years after completing Grade 12.
  • 69.8% of students who have ever been English language learners made the transition to B.C. post-secondary within two or fewer years after completing Grade 12.
  • 52.3% of Indigenous students in public schools attended B.C. post-secondary within two years of completing high school, a 3.2% increase compared to the year before.

Investments in learning

  • The Province is investing $7.1 billion for K-12 education this year, which is $1.5 billion more than in 2016-17.
  • This is an increase of 27%, while enrolment has grown by an estimated 2.9%.
  • Government has invested more than $400 million annually through the Classroom Enhancement Fund for school districts to hire more than 4,200 new teaching positions, including 700 special education teachers and nearly 200 more teacher psychologists and counsellors. The Classroom Enhancement Fund has increased by 24% since its inception in the 2017-18 school year.
  • An additional 2,000 full-time equivalent education assistants have been hired since 2016-17. 
  • From 2016-17 to 2019-20, the number of classes with an education assistant increased from 21,153 to 28,882 classes, a 37% increase over 2016-17.  
  • Government has invested $3.5 million to create about 250 new seats in teacher education programs in B.C, including 70 special education, 74 French, 20 math and physics and 95 Indigenous seats.
  • This year, the ministry estimates school districts will receive $664.4 million to support students with special needs, a 43% increase since 2016-17.
  • Targeted funding to support Indigenous students is estimated to rise to $95.2 million next school year, a 37% increase since 2016-17.
  • Rural school districts are receiving $331.7 million for the next school year to assist with the unique challenges they face supporting students and staff. This is $22 million more than in 2016-17.
  • School districts receive about $54 million through CommunityLINK and $23 million via the Equity of Opportunity Supplement each year to help fund programs that support vulnerable children and youth.

Capital investments

  • Budget 2021 ensures B.C.’s education system will have the highest school operating and capital funding ever, investing more than $21.5 billion for B.C.’s schools over the next three years.
  • In total, Budget 2021 increases funding in education by $1.22 billion over three years. The three-year total announced in Budget 2021 is a 20% increase over Budget 2017.
  • Budget 2021 includes nearly $3.5 billion for school capital investments, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and site purchases to ensure land is in place to accommodate fast-growing communities throughout the province, a 78% increase over the amount announced in Budget 2017.
  • Safety for students and staff is being improved by accelerating seismic upgrades at B.C. schools, with more than $1.2 billion in funding approved for 58 projects that will make more than 31,000 students safer in the event of an earthquake.
  • The Ministry of Education is making progress on its mandate commitment to build and upgrade schools in every region of the province, with more than $2.5 billion announced to date for 122 school construction projects and property purchases.
  • Government created an ongoing $5-million annual playground equipment program in 2018. In 2021-22, it will invest an additional $5 million (to a total of $10 million) for school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment. This school year, the program will fund 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts, reducing parents' need to fundraise for school playgrounds.
  • Since the Playground Equipment Program started in 2018, government has invested $25 million to fund 201 new playgrounds at schools throughout the province, benefiting more than 49,000 students.