Alternative Education programs

Student Group:
Alternative Education

The Vancouver District offers 23 Alternative Education Programs (Secondary) in addition to three Adult Education Centres.

The Vancouver Board of Education (School District No. 39) believes that the neighbourhood school is of prime importance in the delivery of educational services.

Although the Board believes that the neighbourhood school is central in meeting the educational needs of parents and their children, it recognizes that parents, students, community members and staff may request alternative programs at the district level. 

The Vancouver District offers 23 Alternative Education Programs in addition to three Adult Education Centres.  Download the programs' handbook to familiarize yourself with the variety of programs, supports, and goals that exist in the alternative programs.  

District Youth and Family Workers

The District employs a District Youth and Family Worker to support students/families who have become disengaged with the educational system and who require school and program placement at the secondary level.  They are located at Spectrum Alternative Program, 2530 East 43rd Avenue, Vancouver B.C. V5R 2Y7

Main telephone: 604-713-5932

  • Robert Denley  cell:  778-228-1767                                         

Go to the Programs area of this website and search the Alternative Education section for more information on the alternative programs we offer.

District Alternative Resource Programs

Alternative Resource Programs provide an environment that includes additional support for students.  Teachers use a variety of instructional methods designed to meet the academic needs of students.  In addition the program staff is dedicated to working individually and in groups to address the social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs of students.

In most cases students referred to the alternative programs should meet the Ministry of Education criteria for designation in the “R” or “H” category (Students Requiring Behaviour Intervention or students with Mental Health concerns).

Each program offers an application package detailing information regarding the referral process. Please contact your neighbourhood school counsellor or the programs directly to obtain an application. Parent/Guardians will be notified directly from the program staff with regard to the status of applications. 


Inter-agency Alternative Programs

The Inter-agency programs are jointly funded by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). These programs are for students whose needs cannot be met within the setting of the neighbourhood secondary school or District Alternative Resource Programs. 

These programs are designed for students who demonstrate behavioral difficulties and “at risk” behaviours which may affect their learning, interpersonal relationships and /or personal adjustment over a prolonged period of time.  These students meet the Ministry of Education criteria for designation in the “H” category (Students Requiring Intensive Behaviour Intervention or students with Serious Mental Health concerns). 

Referrals from MCFD or an Aboriginal delegated agency Social Worker or Probation Officer are emailed to the MCFD Youth Services Community Liaison. Referrals are accepted on an on-going basis and reviewed by a MCFD/VSB screening committee to determine eligibility, placement and priority.

Hamber House is a partnership between the Vancouver Board of Education and Vancouver Community Child and Youth Health Services.  Potential students are referred to Hamber House through their psychiatrist or mental health team.

The West Coast Alternative Program is a partnership with the Vancouver Board of Education, Pacific Community Resources and Vancouver Coastal Health.  Referrals to the West Coast Alternative Program are submitted to the VSB Central Screening Committee.


Adult Education Centres

The Vancouver Board of Education currently operates five Adult Education Centres open to youth 16 years of age and older. Students must be 16 years of age as of July 1st of the current school year. These Centres provide educational opportunities ranging from beginning literacy to secondary school completion.

The emphasis of the Adult Education Centres is on providing flexible and accessible programs. Students can enroll on an ongoing basis and programs are designed and adjusted to meet individual learning needs. Students whose educational background requires Special Education assistance are not suitable for the programs as support services available throughout the K-12 system are not available in Adult Education.

To register, all potential students are required to meet with the instructor or the Academic Advisor.  A referral from a counsellor or administrator and completion of an English and Math assessment are required for acceptance.

Graduation Options

A 2004 Graduation Program (Dogwood) is required for students who have entered grade 10 for the first time since 2004.  Students must acquire 80 credits at the grade 10, 11 and 12 levels and required to write five graduation program exams.  Graduation program exams are mandatory for every course in the following subject areas:  Language Arts 10, Science 10, Mathematics 10, Social Studies 11or Civics 11 or B.C. First Nations Studies 12 and Language Arts 12.  Please refer to page iv “At a Glance Requirements – What You Need to Graduate” or visit

 The Adult Graduation Program (Adult Dogwood) is open to students who are 19 or older or in a few cases who are 18 with exceptional circumstances.  This program requires a student to successfully complete 20 credits that must include English or Communications 12 and a Math 11. To be eligible for the adult Dogwood, the student must take at least three of their courses leading towards graduation as an adult (19 years of age or older).

 The School Completion Certificate Program is open to students for whom the other graduation options are not academically realistic.  In order to receive a School Completion Certificate, a student must complete the goals of their Individual Education Plan (IEP) which includes academic, personal, pre-employment and career components.