Alternative Education in Edmonton: A Unique Way of Learning

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Boyle Street Education Centre is an alternative education program for young people who are not experiencing success in conventional learning environments. Most alternative education schools have strict rules about who can join and when, but at our school, every young person between the ages of 14 and 19 years can attend if the school is able to support their educational needs.


Our students historically do not arrive at BSEC “school ready.” As survivors of intergenerational oppression, they experience barriers to wellbeing that include racism, abuse, and extended periods of unstable housing. In many cases, our students have lived for long periods without positive adult role models, adequate financial resources, or good mental health. The pressure of having to manage so many challenges often results in them choosing to drop out of school when challenged or to demonstrate below-average academic performance relative to age. 


Our alternative education program offers many qualities like a family.  The school accepts students wherever they are in their journey and offers a program that is flexible and diverse enough to respond to changing circumstances. This welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment can help our students develop a sense of hope that they may thrive in their lives after high school. The ability to imagine a better future is a luxury often not enjoyed by many of our students before they attend but one often reported by those who have been part of our program.


Alternative Education Program Overview

Our school currently offers the following programs of study:

–  Fundamental Courses

–  English Language Arts

–  Mathematics

–  Science

–  Social Studies

–  Physical Education

–  Traditional Media Art

–  Career and Life Management

–  Knowledge and Employability


Optional Courses

–  Communications Technology

–  Audio and Video Production (Streaming)

–  Cosmetology

–  Construction

–  Fashions

–  Work Experience/Work Readiness

–  Art

–  Foods


In addition to the main program of studies, our school offers a variety of options that students may choose to attend. These classes offer students alternative pathways to completing their high-school diplomas. The options include:


Co-Curricular Options

–  Drop-In Physical –Education

–  Success Coaching

–  Theatre Appreciation

–  Animal Wellness Group

–  Yoga

–  Gender and Sexuality Alliance

–  Improvisational Drama

–  Massage Therapy

–  Indigenous cultural activities – daily smudging, pipe ceremony, sweat lodge ceremony, traditional beadwork, and conversational Cree.


Finally, our school has services and supports in place to help students in crisis find a way into learning. The following services or affiliated services to our students in a constant effort to make it easy for our students to attend our alternative education programming:


Student Services

–  Psychoeducational Assessment

–  Student Success Coach

–  Emotional and Behavioral counselling

–  Student Funding Supports

–  Access to Alberta Health Services through the Indigenous Wellness Clinic

–  Sharing Circles (CALM)

–  Youth Support Worker (for assistance with housing and legal matters)


[1] At this time, due to what we determine to be a high potential risk of COVID transmission, we have discontinued student work in areas related to cooking or cleaning in the building. When it is safe to do so, kitchen and cleaning work experience may again be available to students.