The public vs private debate

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In the land down under, a recent blog entry raised the topic of public versus private school and has generated a couple hundred comments. This perennial discussion often draws passionate response; after all, education is a major part of a society's foundation.


Arguments for a public-only system usually focus on inclusiveness and access to all. Indeed, those are reasons why there should and will always be public school that is essentially free. Arguments for why there should be private schools are more varied, but typically claim some sort of educational benefit. For example, class sizes can be more controlled in private schools.

Is it possible to say which system is better?

  1. Justine, who wrote the Money Mum blog entry took a middle-of-the-road approach. After considering the significant cost differences and quantitative ways to compare schools Justine comes up with an answer: both are better.

"[M]y gut feeling is that the right school for your child will depend a lot on your actual child - what suits one may not suit another!" Justine writes, "And surely the level of involvement that you have in the school and the interest that you take in your child's work and achievements is going to have a big impact as well?"

And that's the key to it all. Sticking with a dogmatic "private schools are bad" mentality may be a disservice to an individual child who would benefit from a program, system or class size only available at a private school. Similarly, putting a child into the most expensive private school is not a substitute for being involved in that child's enrichment.

In my perfect world, all education would be able to exist within the public system, and there would be options like those offered at private schools. Education is so important that I feel like we owe it to ourselves - and our children - to fund education of the highest quality possible. But I understand that isn't how our system works, and that it won't work that way anytime soon.

So we are left with options spanning a broad spectrum of styles, locations, and prices. The simple fact of the matter is that there is a high quality education available at every price point and there is no one-school-fits-all model, for better or for worse. 

To compare specific schools one-to-one, visit our compare hub.

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