The old age debate of public vs private schooling is always a hot topic of discussion with anyone, let alone parents. So why does everyone have such a strong view? The reason is that this topic sits in the core of our belief system based on our own thoughts, experiences, and values that we have experienced during our lifetime. All of us went to school and have formed our own positions. Now when our belief system is challenged in a discussion or debate, it is human nature to defend yours more passionately.
So, how did I decide? In this article, I am going to take you through the 5 questions that my wife and I discussed when we made our decision. I hope this will help parents with their decision making process, in the future.
The starting point for me was asking a few questions.
1. Why is this important to me?
2. How much can I afford to spend?
3. What schools are within my travel zone?
4. What do I want from a school?
5. Which schools have vacancies?
Why is this important to me? This is the main question you need to ask yourself. Education is a big deal to some parents who base where they live on a school zone. Others, it’s important but not as much. For me, I wanted to consider private schools as an option for my children as I didn’t go to one growing up. It wasn’t because of the curriculum or a better education, but the network and cohort of other children my kids would be around. This was important to me as I saw firsthand what low expectations of other students, and teachers around you, can have to your own. The saying is “you become the person of your 5 closest friends”. If I had a choice, my preference was to have a school or system that had higher minimum expectations. For example, if a school’s average ATAR or NAPLAN is 75.0, compared to the local public school of 55.0, statistically my child is more likely to get a higher ATAR or NAPLAN score. There are always exceptions but an average score across a school does reflect a standard.
How much can I afford to spend? With over 50 survey responses. The average age a child is when deciding on a primary school is 2.8 years old. This means they are more than likely in child care or at home. The cost of child care is quite substantial at around $40.00 - $60.00 per day out of pocket with the government paying the other 50% through subsidy. With our son in child care 3 days a week this was costing us $150.00 per week, which equalled $7,200 per year over 48 weeks. During his preschool year we decided to put this amount into an education fund, and by the time he started primary school we already had this amount budgeted each week. Most private schools, do offer payment plans of weekly, fortnightly, and monthly. So, paying private school fees is more realistic. Not all private schools cost 25K per year. To check the latest fees visit our page.
What schools are within my travel zone? This question was one that broadened our options significantly. Our initial thoughts were at our local public school, and three other private schools in our suburb and neighbouring suburbs. That meant we had four to choose from, if they all had vacancies. This lead us to consider two other options. One was considering private schools in the city, were I worked. The other option was increasing the school drop off zone to a 20-minute drive. This added an extra four schools, which doubled our choices for our short list.
What do you want from a school? A very important question as this can make or break what school you select. This can also cause some conflict with your partner, as we all have different opinions on what is important. What I found was that we needed a principal’s tour/ open day to get a feel for the school. Our initial criteria was for good class sizes and knowing that our child would be getting enough one on one attention. A good sports program was also one of my interests. After attending a principal’s tour, we were able to get these questions answered, together with a friend recommendation.
Which Schools have vacancies? One of the most frustrating part of selecting a school is knowing if there is a vacancy and if and how long a waiting list is. If I had my time again I would have made my decision earlier, as I encountered waiting lists and then having to have a plan B and C. Private School News Australia is in the process of teaming up with local private schools to have a vacancies page available, to help parents save time.
So, what is my position, Public or Private? My stance is that you cannot categorically say one is better than the other as every person is impacted by the location they live, how much they can afford, what is important to them in a school, and what schools have vacancies available. As public schools are based on zones, private schools in my opinion offer more schools to choose from, which give you more options as a parent. In my circumstance, my choices went from one to eight. My position is this, do your research, know all your options available, have the facts, and then make an informed decision that best suits you.
Private School News Australia has been designed to give you a starting point with your research on school fees and school results. I would love to hear your thoughts with our public or private? survey. It only takes 3-minutes and gives us great insights into parents selection process, and what is important to them. Subscribe to the email list to see the results later in the year.