Eligibility Requirements for an Independent School Teacher Certificate

The information in this section applies to you if you have not completed a teacher education program and contains information about applying for a certificate that will enable you to teach in a specific area(s) in the BC kindergarten to grade 12 independent school system. To apply for a certificate that enables you to teach in all BC kindergarten to grade 12 schools (public, independent and First Nations schools), you need to have completed an approved teacher education program. For more information, please visit Becoming a Teacher on our website. If you are interested in pursuing a teacher training program in BC, please visit Teacher Education on our website.

Independent School Teaching Certificate Types and Requirements

The Teacher Regulation Branch issues three types of Independent School Teaching Certificates (ISTC). Please note that this is a general introduction to our certificate types and requirements. We will not be able to tell you what you may need to do to obtain a certificate until we evaluate your complete application.

Proficiency in English or French

To qualify for an ISTC you must meet the English or French language proficiency requirements. You must be able to read, write and speak at an advanced level in either language. Proof of language proficiency is required where the first language is not English or French. Please refer to Language Proficiency for information on the acceptable tests and required scores for each Independent School Teacher Certificate.

System Restricted Teaching Certificate (SYR)

This certificate restricts the holder to teaching within a BC Independent Montessori or Waldorf School. A certificate can be further restricted to kindergarten depending on the program completed. System Restricted Certificates are non-expiring upon issue due to the fact that recognized Montessori and Waldorf programs contain practicum that is supervised and evaluated. Eligibility criteria for the SYR Certificate include:

Post-Secondary studies

  • 120 or more semester hour credits of relevant post-secondary education from a recognized institution.
  • The above-noted 120 semester hour credits of post-secondary education must include a teaching credential from a recognized institution that provides teacher training solely within the Montessori or Waldorf philosophical, educational, or pedagogical perspective.

Program Accreditation

For certificates restricted to Montessori Education, the Teacher Regulation Branch is currently only recognizing programs that are accredited through the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), American Montessori Society (AMS), or the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE). These bodies are recognised in North America as accrediting programs that adhere to the Montessori principles and carry out regular inspections of the programs they accredit. Programs completed internationally will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

For certificates restricted to Waldorf Education, the Teacher Regulation Branch is currently only recognising Waldorf education programs completed in North America that are accredited through the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) or the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Programs completed internationally will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Programs that are completed entirely by distance/online education are unlikely to be recognised by these bodies and are therefore not currently recognised by the Teacher Regulation Branch. The Montessori/Waldorf method and philosophies are inherently practical and therefore only teacher education programs that contain significant on-campus education and supervised practicum will be recognised. Proof of language proficiency is required where the first language is not English or French.

Subject Restricted Teaching Certificate (SR)

This certificate restricts the holder to teaching subject(s) within the BC Independent School System that are directly related to his/her post-secondary subject concentrations. SR Certificates are interim certificates, initially valid for up to 60 months. To upgrade to a non-expiring certificate, the certificate holder must demonstrate successful teaching in an acceptable BC Independent School for at least 1.5 years full time (or equivalent part time). Teacher-on-call experience (substitute teaching) is not accepted to upgrade to a non-expiring certificate. Eligibility criteria for the SR Certificate include:

Post-Secondary studies

  • A degree and 120 or more semester hour credits of relevant post-secondary education from a recognized institution.
  • 18 credits of upper level (third and fourth year) academic course work or 30 credits of any level academic course work in the following core teachable areas.
    Art *
    Biology
    Business Education
    Chef Instructor
    Chemistry
    Computer Science
    Dance *
    Drama *
    Earth Science
    English **
    First Nations Education
    French
    General Science ***
    Geography
    German
    History
    Home Economics
    Italian
    Japanese
    Korean
    Library
    Mandarin
    Mathematics
    Music *
    Physical Education
    Physics
    Punjabi
    Russian
    Social Studies ****
    Spanish
    Special Education
    Technology Education

Note: SR Certificates must be restricted to one or more teachable areas. Therefore, they are not issued to elementary generalists. The above list of teachable areas is not exhaustive. Exceptions can be made for certain languages and Religious Studies/Education.

* At least six credits in a fine and performing arts teaching area must be studies in theory (i.e. non-studio).

** Subject Restricted Certificates are not issued for English as a Second Language (ESL).

*** General Science should include courses from a combination of the following disciplines: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Physical Geography, Geology/Earth Science, Ocean Science, Environmental Science and Astronomy.

**** Social studies should include courses from a combination of the following disciplines: History, Geography, Canadian Studies, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology and Economics.

School and Subject Restricted Teaching Certificate (SSR)

This certificate restricts the holder to teaching only at the sponsoring authority seeking to employ the applicant, and in one or more subjects related to the holder’s specialized post-secondary training, unique life skills or practical experience. SSR certificates may also be grade-restricted, depending on the applicant’s credentials, training and experience. SSR Certificates are interim certificates, initially valid for up to 60 months. To upgrade to a non-expiring certificate, the certificate holder must demonstrate successful teaching in an acceptable BC Independent School for at least 1.5 years full time (or equivalent part time). Teacher-on-call experience (substitute teaching) is not accepted to upgrade to a non-expiring certificate.

All SSR applications are approved by the Director of Certification at the Teacher Regulation Branch in consultation with the Inspector of Independent Schools.

  • An SSR-1 designation normally requires post-secondary training in a teachable subject area, and is typically limited to grades K-9;
  • An SSR-2 designation normally requires post-secondary training and credential completion (certificate, diploma, etc.) and is typically needed for instruction of electives at the Graduation Program level.

SSR certificates are not normally issued for core provincially regulated subjects commonly taught in the BC school system such as Drama, English, Fine Art, French, Math, Music, Science (including Biology, Chemistry and Physics), Social Studies (including History and Geography), Physical Education, and Technology Education. Applications for SSR Certificates in Special Education will not be considered.

Applications for SSR Certificates in the areas of Drama, Fine Art, and Music may be considered depending on a School Authority’s specific school or community identity. SSR applications in teaching areas that are difficult to fill (e.g. Foreign Languages, Industrial or Technology Education) will also be considered. Applications for the SSR in Religious Studies/Education or in Board Authority Approved (BAA) authorized courses are well suited.

Because areas such as Drama, Fine Art, French (as well as other languages), Music, Industrial or Technology Education are considered core provincially regulated subjects, these applications may be denied depending on particular circumstances. If this is the case, the Director of Certification may suggest that an application for a Letter of Permission (LOP) be made jointly by the individual and the School Authority.

If an employer has an individual teaching on an LOP (who has been denied the SSR), the employer will be required to post and advertise the position again in the following school year. If the employer is still unable to fill this position with a certified teacher, the Director of Certification, in consultation with Inspector of Independent Schools, will consider the issuance of an SSR to the individual. This ensures that the School Authority continues to advertise the job in an attempt to find a certified individual to fill the position.

Fitness to Teach

You must be a person of a good and moral character to qualify for a certificate. We use the following to evaluate your suitability or "fitness" to teach:

  • the confidential character reference forms
  • the criminal record check results
  • in some cases, the results of a fingerprint search

Ready to apply?

Please review the Standards for Educators, the application process and the required application documents. Then, create your online account in the Applicants' Area and submit your application.

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