An alternative school (sometimes called a minischool), is an educational establishment with a curriculum and methods that are nontraditional, or sometimes ultratraditional. These schools have a special curriculum offering a more flexible program of study than a traditional school.
Many such schools were founded in the United States in the 1970s as an alternative to mainstream or traditional classroom structure. A wide range of philosophies and teaching methods are offered by alternative schools; some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, while others are more ad-hoc assemblies of teachers and students dissatisfied with some aspect of mainstream or traditional education.
Sometimes, particularly in the United States, the phrase alternative high school can refer to a school which practices alternative education. This is a much broader use of the term, covering all forms of non-traditional educational methods and philosophies, including school choice, independent school, homeschooling, and alternative high school. However, even the narrower usage of the term may refer to a range of school type such as a school with an innovative and flexible curriculum aimed at bright, self-motivated students; a school intended to accommodate students with behavioral problems; or a school with special remedial programs.