Rising Tide Blog

Are private schools worth it?

Posted by Matt Hale

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It’s no secret that there’s a LOT of debate in the air around private vs. public schooling.

We know that there are benefits of both sides, and often the arguments centre around one thing: is it worth the extra money?

Some say yes, some disagree. Here’s a few things to consider if you’re deciding where to send your kids.

Queensland University recently surveyed 4000 primary school aged children who attended both private and public schools, asking if the quality of school affected the child’s chance of success. Instead they found; “a far more important factor is the background of the child’s family, including income, social circles, the number of people who had completed high school in their neighbourhood, their parents educational attainment or health factors, such as the weight of a baby at birth.”

Gives a bit of sting to the debate, doesn’t it?

It’s a big decision, so it’s important to take both sides of the argument into consideration before making a choice that’s likely to affect the next 6-12 years of your life (not to mention your child’s!) Let’s take a look at the pro’s and con’s of each, before touching on the financial implications for your family.

Public schools have served many children well over the years, and with a close attachment to the local community due to the ‘catchment’ nature of admissions, there’s a local vibe that isn’t necessarily replicated in private schooling where children can travel up to an hour (sometimes more) to get to school. Public schools also offer a wider cultural experience for children and allow them to make friends with people from all walks of life, potentially preparing them more adequately for their post-school years.

On the other hand, private schools often have smaller class sizes due to their level of exclusivity, possibly allowing your children to have better access to teachers. The funding given to private schooling through wealthy benefactors can also increase the quality of materials and opportunities available to students. As the children move into the upper levels of schools, the subjects available to them are also likely to be more tailored.

However, with both the pro’s and con’s in mind, there’s a significant gap when it comes to the cost of public and private schools. Often public schools have fee systems that can be around $400 per year, whereas private schools can be anything up to $23,000. Public schools also have funding in place to pay for any extras, like music and schooling equipment, whereas private schools expect students to come equipped with tech gadgets like laptops and tablets.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what you can afford and what you as a family value. Do you 100% believe that your child will receive a superior education at a private school, that’s worth the extra tens of thousands of dollars over their schooling years? If so, then go for it – but for those who can’t justify it, there’s plenty of research suggesting your child won’t miss out. Either way, do what’s best for you.