The pan-Canadian Lighthouse Labs programming school has been formally recognized as a private career college in Ontario.
The move is significant for Lighthouse Labs. A private career college is an independent business that prepares students for a specific job, or gives them specific skills, such as computer skills. There are more than 500 registered private career colleges in Ontario.
Lighthouse Labs has chapters in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Victoria, London and Halifax.
The move keeps Lighthouse Labs eligible for important financing options like Second Career Ontario, Canada Ontario Job Grant and will, eventually, include the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). For students, it means they’ll be heading to an accredited institution in Ontario. Government accreditation has long been a large issue for coding schools in jurisdictions all around North America. Some are better than others, but even for top-notch programs, getting a government’s blessing isn’t easy.
“It also means that our refund policy, code of conduct and dispute resolution process comply with the Private Career College Act, and we’ll submit financials to the Ministry every year. Clarity and transparency in the way we operate should make it easier for students to focus on the intense, quirky and immersive experience of being in bootcamp,” wrote Lighthouse Labs’ Rachel Greenspan
Education regulation is different for every province, added Greenspan. Lighthouse Labs went through a similar process three years ago in British Columbia when it was founded three years ago. It was to become a Private Training Institution with their regulatory body, the Private Training Institution Branch (PTIB). Now Lighthouse Labs will set their sights on recognition with the Alberta Advanced Education for Alberta Private Career Training, which it hopes to announce later this year.
While the Ontario news hasn’t yet been replicated in Quebec, the news paints a fascinating picture of what could be to come for coding schools. It’s probably fair to say that as time goes on traditional education bodies will see programs like this with more legitimacy.
In Quebec, it hasn’t been easy for programs like Kids Code Jeunesse, which recently helped design the province of BC’s new coding curriculum. Their founder, Kate Arthur, expressed a hope to MTLinTECH that one day the government of Quebec would mandate coding and computational thinking into school curriculums. In Quebec Kids Code Jeunesse has been informally training teachers within school boards for several years, including the English Montreal School Board.
“We’d like to see it in Quebec now,” Arthur told us in late October. “Any connections to help the movement here with our ministry of education would be great. We’ve tried in the past to start conversations but we haven’t had any response. They know we’re here, we’re getting a great response from school boards and schools and there’s a lot of us working hard.”
Governments and the private sector working together is exactly what Lighthouse Labs’ Greenspan seemed to be so enthusiastic about in announcing her organization’s news this week.
“Critical inquiry, experimentation and agility are core principles of our teaching style. One big reason we chose to work with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University (MTCU) is because we believe that innovation and disruption in the education sector should be compatible with working alongside government,” she wrote. “Students should get the highest quality, up to date curriculum and also enjoy the benefits of going to an accredited school at the same time! By breaking down these boundaries, government and private sector can work together make coding education current, disruptive and accessible to as many students as possible.”
Lighthouse Labs is in the midst of planning its HTML 500 event in Toronto and Vancouver on March 11. They’re billing it as “Canada’s largest learn-to-code event.”