An Informed Choice

SelfDesign is a distributed learning school. Here is how it fits into BC’s educational landscape.

Where SD Fits InfoGraphic

Local Public
available to all
fixed curriculum
Specialty Public
by application/lottery
special interests and/or alternative teaching
by application
varies by institution
available to all
personalized learning
Other Distributed Learning
varies by institution
varies by institution
available to all
nominal funding to families
ranges from fixed curriculum to unschooling


As a distributed learning school, SelfDesign’s most distinct qualities include the following:

  1. With the support of a certified educator, learners develop a personalized learning plan for learning at home and in their local community, rather than committing to a fixed curriculum.
  2. In addition to being tuition-free, SelfDesign provides access to a learning community, learning equipment and services, and a budget to support learning plans whenever possible.
  3. SelfDesign encourages learning through relationships with family, educators, community members, and other learners.
  4. SelfDesign is a secular program that celebrates diversity, whereas some distributed learning schools are faith-based.

Choosing SelfDesign

More and more families want to know all of their educational options so that they can choose a path that opens more possibilities for their children. For many families, SelfDesign is that choice.

Families of all backgrounds and experiences come to SelfDesign. Here are the most common reasons why families join.

A positive change

Sometimes the local school just isn’t a fit. Learners may feel unmotivated, invisible, unhappy, or bullied. Perhaps the traditional system sees their personality as a “problem.” They need an alternative that celebrates who they are.

Time for special interests

From athletes to musicians, some learners need an educational option that credits their unique talents and allows time for training/practice.

A flexible schedule

Not all lifestyles fit with the typical educational schedule—Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm. Customizing when and how to learn can enable a higher quality of life.

Empowerment in special education

Some families of learners with special needs want an approach that places greater value on the family’s voice and ensures learners feel inspired by and at the centre of their activities.

I hope SelfDesign grows in leaps and bounds to offer more families the same opportunities.
SelfDesign grandparent

Support through a transition

Some learners are living through unique circumstances. During such times, personalized learning and a supportive community can be invaluable in gaining perspective for the way forward.

Secular program that celebrates diversity

Many families seek a learning approach that can be tailored to individual family values, while fostering a rewarding experience of diversity.

While working at many levels of education over the past forty years, I have noticed that the family is too often left out of the process. What inspires me most about SelfDesign is how we nurture the relationship between learner, family, and educator and the conversations that unfold between them.
Kathleen Forsythe, Former Principal of the SelfDesign Learning Community

Our Stories

“SelfDesign supports our choices.”

“As I watch my young kids grow up, I think, how can I help them find what they want to do with themselves in the world?”
Sheila and her husband decided to enrol their son Dominic with SelfDesign in grade one. They wanted to provide their children the opportunity to have the freedom to explore their learning interests and passions without the social pressures of traditional schooling. Read more family and learner stories