For parents around the UK, it’s one of the most polarising debates there is. Depending on who you listen to and what you read, the lazy inference to draw in this country is that the gap in quality of education between private schools and state schools is widening at a rapid rate, but that the difference in cost is spiraling too.
Indeed, according to this article, the average day fee at private schools has risen by 340% (150%, inflation adjusted) in the last 25 years to £13,000 a year, while combined cost of fees and other education-related expenses for boarding from the age of 13 could amount to an eye-watering £450,000 per child over their schooling career.
So it begs the question, is sending your kids to a private school really worth the breath-taking amount of money some of them are demanding?
The argument for private schools
It’s difficult to argue in anything other than general terms, so there are plenty of exceptions either way. But with private schools, the superiority in terms of results seems to be significant. A study last year revealed that 48.2% of private school pupils achieve an A* or A grade, while the corresponding figure for state school and other non-paying students is just 22.5%. Indeed, 30% of all A-grades in the UK came from private school students, despite them making up just 13% of all A-level entrants.
Is this a reflection on the intelligence and ability of the students? Not necessarily. But it’s clear that the resources private schools can afford in terms of education have a huge impact, with students often benefitting from better teachers, smaller classes and superior facilities. What’s more, it is widely accepted that in terms of networking and contacts, private schools hold all the cards for students looking to eventually unlock future opportunities.
The argument against
The most significant counter to the above is of course the crippling expense. Why pay all that money when you can go to school for free? Or, as a happy medium, attend a grammar school? It isn’t as easy as that, of course, and state schools in particular are often oversubscribed, and may require you to move into the catchment area to stand a chance of being accepted. But clearly it is night and day in terms of cost.
Also, private schools have been known to garner a reputation as being non-inclusive, among other issues which are difficult to confirm with cold, hard facts or statistics. Either way, it’s fair to say private schools might not be for everyone, at any price.
Making your choice
Obviously, deciding which way to go is entirely up to you, and weighing up the pros and cons is something you need to do as a family. It’s probably a good idea to reach out and speak to experts too, in order to make an informed decision.
As far as possible, you want to eliminate cost from the equation. It may be that you have your heart set on sending your child(ren) to private school, but that you need some assistance in the form of a personal loan. Taking on debt to help finance a private school education may not sit well initially, but provided the terms are reasonable and the APR low, you may well consider it justifiable as an investment in their future, especially if it is just acting as bridging finance, and you are anticipating a windfall such as a bonus from work in the near future anyway.
Whichever way you favour, make sure you start thinking ahead as soon as you can. Being in a good catchment area is important no matter which school you enrol your child into, so you need to be planning years in advance ideally. And in the sometimes unstable world we currently live, a good education has become all the more paramount as we yearn to give our children the best possible opportunities in life.
What do you think of private schools? Are they really worth it?
I’d love to hear your opinions so why not let me know in the comments section below?