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October 09, 2006


Tom Paine

The difference is very far from marginal. I was educated in a state comprehensive. My wife taught in several of them. We paid hundreds of thousands over 17 years to ensure neither of our children was exposed to a single day of such crappy education as we received.

You would be surprised how many parents "in the know" (often state school teachers who would defend the system in public and whose colleagues would be shocked at what they are doing) make such hard, expensive choices.

We are unusually well-placed to make the comparison and trust us, it's worth the money - purely in educational terms. All the house-buyers who overpay to be in the catchment areas of the less bad state schools know the truth. Labour politicians who brave the wrath of their constituency parties to go private know it too, but it doesn't lead them to do anything about the bog-standard comps, does it?

I hate the Labour Party and all it does to destroy the opportunities of such ordinary kids as I once was. What a waste of talent.


"Wouldn't most kids prefer the £130,000 plus the state education to private education?
So why do so many parents prefer private education?"

Sorry, was that meant to be a sequitur?

I oppose private education politically but support it financially. When it came to it, it seemed like the best option, basically.

(But if you want to talk about private *primary* education, go ahead. Prep school as positional good works for me.)


Always worth considering is the possibility that it's not just education-as-a-route-to-jobs that matters, but education as a desirable end in itself. Or even education so that your children can understand what the bloody hell your conversations with your spouse are about.

Lars Smith

What is the value of the social network built up in a private school?


With yourself and Mr Hamilton, we have 2 anecdotes about government schools, as of 10 - 20 years ago (I presume). This is completely meaningless now, since this was before the Blair tyrrany and its effects, for good or ill, on the state sector. One obvious reason not to send your kids to government school is that, as a branch of the state, it is not going to have your interests at heart, but the states interests. This is especially true in modern democracies, where the state has a definite interest in creating uninformed, highly state-dependant voters.

Devil's Kitchen

In a good private school, one is educated not merely trained to pass exams; and, as I have written many, many times before, pure academia is only a tiny part of those schools. It is the opportunities that one's gets outwith the classroom that one pays the money for, e.g. my 3 years weilding a welding torch, sculpting metal.


Ben Philliskirk

One of the problems is that 'education' is seen as something acquired within schools, and the wider social significance is overlooked. For many children schooling is only one facet of a social context that doesn't encourage thought or promote intelligence. Plus, this has to be seen as a lifelong process, not something that needs to be crammed into childhood and adolescense.
I definitely agree that in the sense of promoting intelligence and inquisitiveness private schooling is a waste of money. I feel the main reason it is sought after is that it places a family firmly within the upper-middle class and helps to keep it there.

angry economist

Well to counter the fee paying school advocates, I went to state comprehensive (with mixed intake) and got a damn fine education and great coaching of sports teams, and a fine youth club. And came out with 10 O levels and 3 A levels, went on for degree, masters, PhD... now in a decent job that I enjoy.

And when I look on Friendsreunited - can see a whole load of successful folks.

I just don't get the public: bad; private: good argument at all. Maybe its dominated by folks in London?

the main thing I notice about privately educated kids is they tend to have more confidence - but is that perhaps down to their parents more than the school?

And another thing - do parents invest in private schools so they don't have to get involved in the non-academic stuff themselves?

Another thing that annoys me - why private school is called "public school" !!! I have never understood that.


"I just don't get the public: bad; private: good argument at all"

I don't think there's a general principle here. All I can say is that our local comp sells itself in terms of motivating kids who might not want to learn - whereas the school my son eventually went to offers to take kids who are already performing well and stretch them further. In that situation, if you've got a high-performing child & if you can afford the fees, the choice eventually makes itself.

Having said that, even at its most meritocratic private education is a bit of a con trick. If bright kids with added self-confidence end up running the country it's not because they're bright, but because of the added self-confidence.


I believe it is generally a waste of money. I believe I am a better person for being private school educated (yes), but 130,000 pounds better (probably not).

Its hards to say but I'd take the money thanks!

Yes private schools kids do achieve more. But they would they probably would anyway. Better genes and a better peer group account for most of the improvement though IMO.


As someone who experienced both private and public schools (albeit in Canada as opposed to the UK), I couldn't see any appreciable difference in the level of education. Certain aspects of the private school were better ... I certainly had access to better (and less crowded) facilities than in public school. At the same time, public school afforded me a level of socialisation that wasn't possible in private boarding school (or ever among the day students I knew).

In general, to my experience, the amount of extra money spent on private school isn't worth the effort. The problems that existed in public school were mirrored in private schools, and in many cases were actually worse (drug problems were far worse amongst people with money to burn, than I ever saw in public school for instance); there wasn't an appreciable difference in the quality of teacher or education. In short, the only real differences I saw stemmed from the extra money that private schools have (better facilities, fewer students per teacher, etc) more than anything else, and if that money was instead put into the public system, it could be used to benifit ALL students rather than a select few elites.

I am someone with experience in both systems ... and I simply don't think there was any appreciable difference between the two systems, and certainly not enough of a difference to justify the cost.

Andy  Wilmot

Schols are for two purposes : 1 . Obedience training and 2 Measuring a child for Univirsity entrance . When I left the exclusive Ballarat Grammar School , I bombed out and went straight onto the unemployment heap ....... Pity I did not drown or be hit by a car at three years of age ....... my parents would have saved a fortune .

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