DISCUSSION: Are private schools worth it?

article-1108763-02FA1BC4000005DC-843_468x323   Parents spend thousands paying for private education for their children. But is it worth it? why do some parents agonise over the decision as to whether they can afford it?

Recently I have had the opportunity to work in a couple of private schools, both of which combine both primary and secondary levels. I have also had conversations with family members as to whether they should start their children’s education in a private school rather than the local public school.   Firstly, I am astounded by the cost of sending a child to a private school. For a secondary pupil, this is currently anywhere between $20,000 and $32,000 in Australia, $14,000 on average in the USA and in the UK the average being £12,000, with places such as Eton, costing around £32,000 – per year ! Wow! At that price you would expect that to be it for the year, but you would be mistaken. Apart from the cost of school fees, there are a range of potential additional costs, such as:

* application fees
* enrolment fees
* building levies (compulsory or voluntary)
* compulsory purchase of IT equipment such as laptops, tablets
* additional subject costs (music, language, sports tuition, learning support)
* special programme costs
* School camps and trips
* uniforms
* musical equipment hire
* school bus service
* book, stationary and equipment charges
* pre and after-school care costs
* fundraising support (voluntary)
* curriculum levies, such as for the International Baccalaureate
But of course, these are resident/citizen fees and if you are considered “international” the cost is much higher. For example, an International School charges over $10,000 more just because you are an international student. And what do you get for your extra fees?? Nothing. If you child is deemed to need language support, the most likely support that they would require, it is in addition.

But of course, these are resident/citizen fees and if you are considered “international” the cost is much higher. For example, an International School charges over $10,000 more just because you are an international student. And what do you get for your extra fees?? Nothing. If you child is deemed to need language support, the most likely support that they would require, it is in addition.   Right so for all these costs the education that your child will receive will be better than if they went to a public school? Recent research disagrees. Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 3.36.39 pm   See: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20141031-how-to-pay-for-private-school https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/26029746/private-public-schools-on-par-study/ IMG_1208   Academic scores from tests show that it does not matter whether you attend a public or private school, however, a determinant for higher test scores shows that socioeconomic status does affect academic achievement.

https://theconversation.com/state-school-kids-do-better-at-uni-29155

“Barbara Preston examined the link between type of school attended and progress at university. Barbara concluded that after controlling for tertiary entrance score, university students from government schools outperformed students from private schools”.

Investing in your child’s education by sending them to private school, has been found to give no greater guarantees for their future securing full time employment.

So private school may not be worth the money.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/education/fourth-study-this-year-confirms-private-schools-no-better-than-public-20141109-11jlgn.html  http://debatewise.org/debates/134-the-private-education-system-should-be-abolished/

 

It is worth remembering considering as well, that the professional development of a school’s teachers is dependent on the individual school itself. Do those in leadership roles in schools really know their teacher’s strengths and weaknesses, and what do they do to support them? After all, it is one thing to tell parents what happens in classrooms and quite another to actually spend time in classrooms and making supportive teacher observations. Do private schools do this any better than public schools? In theory there is more money for professional development, but does it happen? is it the right kind, is it useful? There is no higher qualification for teachers who work at private schools, teachers all do their basic training together. So, is there anything that sets them apart from teachers in public schools?   Okay, so another big reason to send children to a private school is the extra curricular opportunities. Generally, this seems to be true. Extra sport lessons/clubs/teams, specialist teachers spending extra after school hours running clubs for those who are interested; the great use of modern technology, arts; purpose-built buildings such as drama studios, dark rooms; the use of equipment and resources, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, the school’s own mini-buses; inter-school competitions. But… be careful. I have recently been to a private, international school that charges the same termly fee as a well-established and respected private school in the same area, and yet, they have none of the extra curricular opportunities. No specialist clubs, limited use of modern technology, a lack of inter-school competitions and definitely a lack of sporting venues – just a grass field to run on – no tennis courts and certainly no swimming pool. Therefore, be careful, just because it is private and charges a high fee does not mean it offers better extra curricular opportunities than public schools (which even public schools often have their own swimming pools and teacher-led clubs!) GettyImages_153345250 Private schools can be seen as an investment in your children’s future – as with other financial investments, you need to do your research before you commit and keep an eye on your investment to make sure that it is  creating positive returns.

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