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The Pros and Cons of a Private School

By: Susan Hunt MA - Updated: 30 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Private Education Child School

When trying to decide between private and state schools, the most obvious drawback of going private is the fees you need to pay each year. But there are a number of other factors that you should take into consideration before you make a final decision.

Statistics

According to a government committee, children who attend private schools are still much more likely to get into certain professions. MPs say this is due to a number of reasons including the social networking circles that involve professional parents.

Another reason for career success is the increased emphasis at private schools on “soft skills” such as drama, debating and music. This gives students a more rounded CV and increases their confidence and presentational skills.

Lots of parents believe that their child will get a better education at private school and rightly or wrongly they think that makes it worthwhile paying annual fees.

There’s no question that in many private schools class sizes tend to be much smaller so it follows that your child is likely to get more personal attention from the teacher.

According to the Independent Schools Council, over half of A-level entrants from private schools gained the top A grade in 2009. In addition more than 90% of them went onto higher education.

(Figures produced in 2009 show that pupils from independent schools accounted for almost half of the country’s university intake.)

Other Factors

Sadly it is not as straight forward as it might seem to compare results between private and state schools because there are various factors that need to be taken into account. For example, most children at private schools do not come from deprived or under-privileged backgrounds and often their parents can afford additional tuition if they are in danger of falling behind in school work.

It’s also important to remember that most independent schools have entrance exams for places, unlike the majority of state-funded senior schools. This means they start out with fewer under-achieving pupils.

High Achievers

On the plus side, if your child is a high achiever, you might find that they rise to the challenge of a class which has many academic “stars” and put in more effort than they would do in a school of mixed ability. But if your child is academically average then their confidence could take a knock at a selective independent school.

(In a mixed ability state school, they might be in the top half of the year group whereas in a private school they could be closer to the bottom. This could wrongly make them feel that they are ‘failing’.)

Half and Half

Many people opt for a state primary education and then go private when their child reaches senior school age because it substantially reduces the total overall cost. Some children however, hate the idea of going to a new private school when their friends are all going to be moving to a state secondary school together.

The move comes at an awkward point in their development – the time when they have made solid friendships and are also reaching the age when they might start to feel self conscious. Before you dismiss this, it’s important to realise that they are also reaching an age when simple bribes no longer work and if your child is adamant about resisting the move you could have a long and difficult time ahead.

Equipment

Another important consideration is provision of materials and equipment. If your offspring is an aspiring sports star or biologist then you need to choose your private school carefully and take into account the range of high tech or sports equipment available.

Often, smaller private schools don’t have the same resources as their state school equivalent. Computers may be dated or children may not have access to them as regularly as they would do in the state sector. Unlike many large state schools which have enviable sports halls and outside playing fields and courts, some small private school have limited sports facilities.

If you live in a close-knit community where children often play out together you could find that your child “loses” friends because they no longer have school in common. And if friends from their new school live some distance away you will face a long round trip to take them to friends’ houses.

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[Add a Comment]
@Pam - no one should be judged as disadvantaged because they went to a private school. Your child should be judged on her exam results not the school she went to. Perhaps, if the school is a high achieving or low achieving school (not all private schools have good academic records) and she doesn't meet the recommended/required three A’s at A-level to become a doctor might the comment be unwittingly made.
JonN - 4-Sep-18 @ 11:00 AM
My children were privately educated because the schools in our catchment were until 2 years ago the worst schools in england as the local schools take in and cater for all behavoural problem children. Today my daughter went for an interview for this years Access to medicine course as she has only got 2 Alevels and works as a cleaner whilst she earns money to support herself as she always wanted to be a doctor as she has had serious medical issues when very young and now fit and healthy, she feels she wants to give something back as the NHS for saving her life. Today she was told by the college. She is a disavantage because she went to private school. Now i feel very guilty and upset for giving my daughter a best start. Due to her illness. Surely this must be discrimination? I hate watching her in emotional pain and discriminated which is my fault.
Pam - 30-Aug-18 @ 9:42 PM
This is an interesting debate - one where an unbiased combination of statistics and anecdotal experience need to be gathered. (Anyone know where this can be found?) For example IS (independent school/s) are now marketing more on 'the network', as the gap in qualifications produced is reduced due to the improvement in state secondaries. However is the network a realistic version of the world the majority of our future adults will live in? I know of two brothers, both now extremely successful, one took himself out of IS at 15/16 for a state 6th form and now runs a multimillion £ organisation. So does his brother- who remained at IS.I'd suggest the former is a more well rounded community minded individual, but that could be his nature regardless of schooling, and perhaps he self-selected on that basis. A current 17r old at IS states she would rather not be there as she realises she has no value to the head/governing staff, other than the value her fees bring. She wants to have meaningful relationships with staff who are focused upon a broader education than governor agenda (which will be driven by results & oxbridge entrants - a very limited view of success). As the majority of young people will have to enter a non-IS bubble once they are 18, surely an education which maximises that real life non-IS experience is better? Furthermore as a community-minded approach is the way to develop a better society, being educated as part of that society, must be a better foundation for this? One also wonders if the best help we can give to young people is to bank the school fees and provide them with a significant deposit for a house/business/travel than channel them towards University degrees with a 5-fig debt?
Specs - 26-Nov-17 @ 1:47 PM
This is an interesting debate - one where an unbiased combination of statistics and anecdotal experience need to be gathered. (Anyone know where this can be found?) For example IS (independent school/s) are now marketing more on 'the network', as the gap in qualifications produced is reduced due to the improvement in state secondaries. However is the network a realistic version of the world the majority of our future adults will live in? I know of two brothers, both now extremely successful, one took himself out of IS at 15/16 for a state 6th form and now runs a multimillion £ organisation. So does his brother- who remained at IS.I'd suggest the former is a more well rounded community minded individual, but that could be his nature regardless of schooling, and perhaps he self-selected on that basis. A current 17r old at IS states she would rather not be there as she realises she has no value to the head/governing staff, other than the value her fees bring. She wants to have meaningful relationships with staff who are focused upon a broader education than governor agenda (which will be driven by results & oxbridge entrants - a very limited view of success). As the majority of young people will have to enter a non-IS bubble once they are 18, surely an education which maximises that real life non-IS experience is better? Furthermore as a community-minded approach is the way to develop a better society, being educated as part of that society, must be a better foundation for this? One also wonders if the best help we can give to young people is to bank the school fees and provide them with a significant deposit for a house/business/travel than channel them towards University degrees with a 5-fig debt?
Specs - 20-Nov-17 @ 8:10 PM
@Specs -Anyone with any worth would support the state-school education, so that everyone from every background has an equal chance.
Basso - 17-Nov-17 @ 2:00 PM
This is an interesting debate - one where an unbiased combination of statistics and anecdotal experience need to be gathered. (Anyone know where this can be found?) For example IS (independent school/s) are now marketing more on 'the network', as the gap in qualifications produced is reduced due to the improvement in state secondaries. However is the network a realistic version of the world the majority of our future adults will live in? I know of two brothers, both now extremely successful, one took himself out of IS at 15/16 for a state 6th form and now runs a multimillion £ organisation. So does his brother- who remained at IS.I'd suggest the former is a more well rounded community minded individual, but that could be his nature regardless of schooling, and perhaps he self-selected on that basis. A current 17r old at IS states she would rather not be there as she realises she has no value to the head/governing staff, other than the value her fees bring. She wants to have meaningful relationships with staff who are focused upon a broader education than governor agenda (which will be driven by results & oxbridge entrants - a very limited view of success). As the majority of young people will have to enter a non-IS bubble once they are 18, surely an education which maximises that real life non-IS experience is better? Furthermore as a community-minded approach is the way to develop a better society, being educated as part of that society, must be a better foundation for this? One also wonders if the best help we can give to young people is to bank the school fees and provide them with a significant deposit for a house/business/travel than channel them towards University degrees with a 5-fig debt?
Specs - 14-Nov-17 @ 6:27 PM
Rose - Your Question:
With regards to your article on the pros and cons of private education, I think it is very important to include the fact that nepotism can play a very large part.The head may be friends, play tennis/golf with "certain parents". A parent may have had multiple children through the school and therefore reaps certain privileges in line with the amount of fees they have paid. The parent may offer discounted services (accounting, cheap marquees, even surgery(!), fork out extra money for a new library etc.In my children's school, nepotism is rampant. It teaches children early on that life is (unjustly) unfair, that winning depends on factors outside of achievement and only furthers the accumulation of arrogance from an uneven playing field. There is no higher body to complain to other than OFSTED, where the individual complaints look small and petty but only when accumilated, show a marked and obvious inbalance of dated 'old boys' network' values. My children are at prep school. I will not consider private for secondary as a result. They will hopefully get into grammar.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your comments - I'm sure they will interest our readers.
GetTheRightSchool - 9-May-16 @ 12:59 PM
With regards to your article on the pros and cons of private education, I think it is very important to include the fact that nepotism can play a very large part. The head may be friends, play tennis/golf with "certain parents". A parent may have had multiple children through the school and therefore reaps certain privileges in line with the amount of fees they have paid. The parent may offer discounted services (accounting, cheap marquees, even surgery(!), fork out extra money for a new library etc. In my children's school, nepotism is rampant. It teaches children early on that life is (unjustly) unfair, that winning depends on factors outside of achievement and only furthers the accumulation of arrogance from an uneven playing field. There is no higher body to complain to other than OFSTED, where the individual complaints look small and petty but only when accumilated, show a marked and obvious inbalance of dated 'old boys' network' values. My children are at prep school. I will not consider private for secondary as a result. They will hopefully get into grammar .
Rose - 9-May-16 @ 9:33 AM
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