Private School vs Public School – Some Inconvenient Truths

By Stuart Adams from Top of the Class Professional Tutoring Sydney

Which is better – private schools or public schools? This is one of the most common questions parents ask me. The answer depends on numerous variables, but two factors come to mind more prominently than others. The first is that it ultimately comes down to the individual school(s) in question. The second is: better in what way?

Private schools are, statistically, more likely to pump out students who go to university than government schools. So if university acceptance is the goal (or at least the most important goal) then the private school must be the better selection right? Not necessarily. Children who attend private schools are also more likely to come from homes where a university education is considered an expectation. This does not mean that the private school is the causative factor in the equation.

There is no statistical evidence to suggest that the same child who attends a private school is more likely to get into uni than the exact same child would had they gone to a state school and had every other circumstance in their life the same with the exception of their school. Children who attend a private school are more likely to want to go to university as well.

So if you decide to send your child to a private school with the intention that it will affect their decision whether or not to attend university, then fine. If however they want to go to uni regardless, then the private school selection may not make them more likely to get in. In fact, culture and location are actually more likely to determine the probability of a child going to university than whether or not their high school was private or public.

Children from families in more affluent areas of Sydney for example are more likely to decide to go to university. In fact, one might even argue that sending a child to a public school in a more affluent area may result in a higher probability of them attending university than if they were to attend a private school in a lower socioeconomic area of Sydney. In fact, because the current NSW state school system allocates teaching positions based on an accumulation of credit points, by sending your child to a public school in a more affluent area, you will be guaranteeing your child is more likely to have teachers with an average greater number of years experience than what would be found among schools in the western suburbs.

Yes it does seem hardly equitable, especially given that education is the part of the cycle where intervention can occur when it comes to the low socioeconomic populations health and welfare problems. Don’t question it too much however; the Teachers Federation likes to maintain their tree hugging leftist image, and if anyone realised that the current system is anything but equitable, I think they’d strike until we shut up and go back to ignoring that. So we’ll leave that delicate little unpleasant part of the state systems reality, and move onto the next issue.

The greatest determining factors as to whether a child goes to university or not is how much they want to. If a child has a keen passion to expand their education, then they will – whether it be with a private or public school background. So why bother with private schools at all?

Other than religious influences, private schools are typically populated by children whose parent’s can afford their fees. Not all private schools have exorbitant fees however, but it basically means that the more you pay for your child’s private school education, the more they will be surrounded by other rich kids. So if having your child be surrounded by children from wealthier backgrounds is the goal (or perhaps just sheltering them from the poor kids) then yes, a private school education may be the way to go.

Private schools tend to be strict when it comes to behaviour related policies as well. So if you want to keep your son and or daughter away from the naughty kids – then yes, perhaps private is the way to go. Perhaps you just want to make sure your child is educated within a religious culture. That’s fine too – religious schools will definitely help with that. Some of the more affluent Christian schools will help you knock over multiple birds with the one stone there, as evidently in those schools, God loves all the children – except the ones who can’t afford more privileged conditions or those with behavioural difficulties.

So if it is your goal simply to manipulate the sociocultural environment that your child is exposed to throughout their schooling years, then perhaps selecting the appropriate private school will indeed help you achieve that goal. If having more experienced teacher’s is the goal however, then moving to a richer area will ensure that your child is privileged with more experienced teachers in the supposedly equitable state government education system. If your child is bright and you want them to be among other high achieving kids, then the schools with the highest rate of university entrances are actually selective schools, which are government schools by the way, and won’t cost any extra.

Whether or not you want to control the crowd your child knocks around with at school is up to you, but if you’d like to invest in your child’s academic future, then by far the most valuable use of your money is in private tuition. Above all, the absolutely best causative association between family decisions and entrance into university is the decision to hire a private tutor. Yes, Tutoring Sydney wide is more prominent than any other area of Australia, but the same is true in any city, town or suburb.

My advice for parents whose number one goal is to secure a strong educational foundation to support their child’s future is, most definitely, one-on-one private tutoring. With the right tutor, you will not only see improvements in your child’s scholastic performance, but most importantly a shift in their attitude, motivation and confidence. And if you want to know the biggest difference between kids who do well and those who do not? Three words: attitude, motivation and confidence. Children that want to do well and believe they can do well; will do well. It’s as simple as that.

For the best resources for parents on helping your child succeed, build confidence in their learning abilities and achieve a strong educational background, see the Top of the Class Tutor Sydney website.


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