THE GREAT SCHOOL DEBATE: Public versus private education

‘Private School Girl’ Ja’mie King. Credit: ABC

There are varying perspectives as to whether a public or private school education makes a difference to the academic benefits of a child.

In a list of the top 10 private girls in Sydney that we recently posted we referred to research by Barbara Preston, who argues that state school educated children actually do better at university than those who attended a private or independent school.

This was rebutted by the Chief Executive of the Association of Head of Independent Schools of Australia, Geoff Ryan who sent us a letter outlining numerous research papers which found that the academic benefits gained at an independent school far outweigh those gained at a public school.

“I am always disappointed to see the complexities of schooling and school communities reduced to league table rankings, but the aim of this letter is not to complain about the obvious but to draw your attention to some research findings as a balance to the Barbara Preston article you link to in your story,” his letter begins.

“On average, students in independent schools score six ATAR points higher than students in government schools, after taking into account both student socioeconomic status and student prior achievement.

“Students who attended independent schools are 2.8 times more likely to complete a university degree than students who attended government schools after allowing for the effect of parents’ education.

“Recent claims that there is no academic benefit for students in attending an independent school are wrong.”

This was a similar point of view taken by adjunct professor of the School of Sociology and Political Science at University of Melbourne, Gary Marks, whose article on The Conversation yesterday outlined why private and catholic schools do add value to students’ results.

Adjunct professor at the University of RMIT, Gavin Moodie commented that “the ‘value’ added by private schools is not a lasting improvement”.

“Private schools coach their pupils to maximise their entry scores without improving their scholastic education”.

This back-and-forth between scholars is proof that there will always be heated debate around this subject. There are reasonable arguments to support both types of education, however Business Insider has found that often it is the connections made in a good school that prove to be useful later in life, particularly in Sydney business circles.

Now read: The top 10 private boys’ schools in Sydney.

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