Choosing Between Public and Private Schools

Choosing Between Public and Private Schools

Parents in Australia often have a difficult choice in front of them when they need to decide between public and private schools. Parents have different opinions on the issue, but all parents naturally want the very best for their children. Besides, they are aware that their choices will have a crucial role in shaping their child’s future.

An overwhelming majority of all Australian children are educated in Government schools. The country currently has a school age population of 3.6 million. Among them, about 2.3 million attend government schools, 511,000 go to independent schools, and 737,000 attend Catholic schools.

There has, of course, been several researches about the types of schoolings, which are the most beneficial for students. However, no finding has been proved to be conclusive. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) concluded from their study that once the socio economic status of different schools is accounted for, there will be no definite difference between the scores achieved by students of Government, Catholic and Independent schools.

But another survey carried out in the year 2009 by renowned analyst Gary Banks for the Australian Journal of Education tells something else. According to this survey, even after taking students’ socio economic backgrounds into account, the results differed. The students from Australia’s independent schools achieved eight ranks higher and those from the Catholic schools ranked four ranks higher than the students from the government schools in their Tertiary Admission Ranks. These differences cannot be clearly accounted for. Gary Marks opined from the results of the survey that private schools place a greater emphasis on students achieving good marks.

It is exceedingly difficult to compare these two types of schools. This is because, the performances of the students are determined not only by the quality of academics provided by the schools but also by students’ family backgrounds of the students. Students from well off family backgrounds usually have highly educated parents who are capable of offering necessary support to their children. The parents also place a lot of emphasis on the academic career of their children. Hence, these students are likely to perform well academically and achieve better marks. This is why some public and private schools are more likely to select students from better off backgrounds. These schools naturally demonstrate better student performance.

Australian Council for Educational Research CEO Goeff Masters opined for this very reason that schools, whether public or private, should not be judged solely on their academic performance. Instead, a school, which succeeds in improving the life prospects of its students, should be considered superior.

This can easily be observed in a research conducted by Monash University. It examined the academic performance of over 12,500 students of the University in 2005. The study concluded that, private school students might have outperformed their public school peers in Year 12 in school, but the latter group managed to perform better once they reached the University. Ian Dobson, who was an analyst for this study, opined that private school students might be performing better in school Year 12, as they have access to better resources than their public school counterparts. But public schools might be equipping students better on the whole. Grattan Institute’s Director of the school education program Ben Jensen feels that the focus should lie on how much a school can add value rather than analyze data. At this moment, the most important data is the result of Naplan tests, which are carried out every alternate year from School Year 3 up to School Year 9. Currently, the most popular nationwide test results are those of these Naplan Tests.

Costs are a major determining factor for many parents when choosing to decide whether to send their children to public or private schools. Private schools are typically more expensive compared to the public educational institutions. Parents from better off economic backgrounds typically choose private schools. However, the choice of the family also plays a major role in this decision.

No matter where the student is admitted, it is the duty of all – the student, her parents and the teachers – to ensure that she studies well. This will help her develop into an efficient professional in the long run.

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