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Articles > Student Life June, 07, 2016

Does Private School Really Make You Any Better?

Harriet Wood
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The average three-bedroom, semi-detached house in the UK cost £286,000 as of November 2015 (according to the Daily Express). The cost of putting a child through a 14-year private education in the UK stands at an average of £286,000, according to the BBC in July 2015. So, you could pay £286,000 for a house or an education—an education that you are entitled to elsewhere, free of charge. Is it worth it?

This leaves a dilemma for many parents, particularly middle class ones who earn more than the average income. Do they send their child to the local comprehensive on one side of the town with an average standing on the league tables and slightly aged facilities? Or to the private school on the other side of town with numerous Oxbridge alumni and glossy pictures in the prospectus of juniors wearing straw boaters and teenagers bearing over whitened smiles and perfectly straightened hair? With £286,000 as the deciding factor, I’d pick the state school any day.

As a student studying A-levels at a comprehensive sixth form, I cannot be more thankful to my parents for opting out of the many private schools that surround the Surrey Hills.

I know many people who have either gone through private education or who study there currently. Sure, they attained countless A*s at GCSE while I was personally disappointed with my three As, six Bs and one C. There’s no denying private school students have smaller classes, are challenged more, and receive more guidance and opportunities when applying to university. But does this make them any happier?

Even David Lloyd, headmaster of Solihull School, admits that ‘social and emotional learning is every bit as important as the traditional curriculum’. He states that ‘pupils who believe that their economic future and independence and happiness are wholly reliant on educational performance are at risk of stress and its many manifestations, and . . . educational leaders must work hard to promote education in the broader sense’ (published in the Daily Mail).

If you think about it, like pupils who have attended private schools, I too will travel, I will get a job, I will (hopefully!) go to university. The only significant difference is that their parents and guardians paid nearly £300,000 for their education, while mine was free.

“I believe that if you want to achieve something that badly, you will work hard, regardless of what type of school you attend”

My school is far from perfect: I watched many fights as a student in the main school; I witnessed rude and aggressive behaviour; I was taught by some teachers who, quite frankly, shouldn’t have been teaching. I swam a couple of swimathons and played a few netball matches, but my sporting ability was not massively encouraged or improved. My school does not have a chapel or famous alumni, nor even a gym or a languages lab.

But we have classrooms and computers. We have teachers that inspire. We can express our personalities, be young, and experience all the fun secondary school memories that many private school students have been deprived of. We have students from different races, families and backgrounds. We have a sense of community—we’re a family, one that I will be sad to leave.

I am now Head Girl of my school, and studying to attend a Russell Group university. Thanks to my state education, I have been made aware of both my abilities and limitations, and have become more confident as a result. I believe that if you want to achieve something that badly, you will work hard, regardless of what type of school you attend. Whilst I feel pressure to achieve, it is rooted within myself and does not stem from my school in an attempt to better their image. I do not face an added burden knowing my family has had to sacrifice other things in order to send me there. I’ve loved my educational experience, and it didn’t cost a penny!

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  1. Sahar Mahmood

    I agree. I think private school life means the students miss out on a lot of personal, emotional and psychological development. State schools definitely have a lot more of a community feel where we all (well most!) feel included. It allows for the individual to develop personally and there’s a lot more emotional development encouraged by the teachers. In private school there’s a much more of a competitive environment which is based on simple educational achievement; which I’m not sure is entirely healthy for teens.

  2. Kate Byrnes

    There are definate pros and cons to each side of the argument. The formality and structure of private schools sets you up well for “adult life” and you are with those of a similar socioeconomic status most of the time, as a couple of comments highlight social situations are missed due to the requirements of private schooling. State schooling is so different with a vide variety of educators and subject area, more common with the boom in Academy school. I feel once you get to university the levels change and it does not matter where you have come from because universities are trying to be open to all especially in the north east. Being a student everyone faces stressors in different ways. As long as the most education is sound and to a high standard, it doesn’t matter where your education is private or state.

  3. Ellie Clements

    I have gone private schools almost all of my life, and when I left to go to college, I have to say it felt that a weight had been lifted. But I found that I didn’t do as well in my AS and A Level years as I wasn’t pushed, and I did not have as good of a relationship with my teachers as I did when I was in Senior School. I think I benefited from going to a private school hugely – especially when I was little – as I felt more secure than my brothers did when they went to local state schools, even if money was extremely tight at times as a result. The fact that my parents were working so hard to pay for my education only motivated me more but one thing I found as that the success I had, I achieved it for them, not for me. That was different at college. The success might have been much smaller but it was for me.

  4. connor Lydon

    I think it does not matter because it depends on the qualities of the student and what passion the student wants to pursue. everyone naturally works harder in something they have skill in because its their talent and I recieved standard education and I’m a hard working and devoted young student so no I don’t think private schools make students better I think students make themselves better

  5. connor Lydon

    I think that it does not matter which schoolong college or university because it all down to the person we shape our own destiny that’s all ambition is its meeting out destiny and I was in standard education and I became a talented young uni fine art student just because of my devotion and passion to drawing

  6. Isobel Knight

    I have quite a few friends at a private school not far from mine and i think i am just as smart as they are. I have noticed that when it comes to exam time they knuckle down more and some even put themselves under massive pressure. I believe that t comes down to your attitude to learning, not where you are.

  7. harsh patira

    I think…I go to a private school and I think I can get more facilities then a public school. I can get more physical training as I can play squash, basket ball, tennis and many more. I can get better ways to learn more and deep In studies as they have modern technology.so I think it is more beneficial than going to a public or a government school.

  8. Rachel Ekstein

    4 out of the 5 schools I have been to were private, and I did go from a small private prep school to my local girl’s grammar, and personally I HATED it. The 1000+ people and large classes were not for me, and being dyslexic I was not able to get the attention I needed in class. So I moved to a boarding school, however, this school does not focus on grades, it is a unique school which has a specialist area for dyslexics. I managed to achieve 7 As 2 Bs and a C at this school while being able to partake in activities such as Duke of Edinburgh, riding at the school stables, using the school’s farm and other things. Obviously, I know that private education isn’t for everyone, but my school is one of the few private schools that isn’t solely focused on getting A*’s and Oxbridge old scholars.

  9. a p

    i hated private secondary school – so glad im out now – feels like a huge weight has been lifted – sincerely wish i never went

  10. Saeed Ebaid

    Private school is so useful though

  11. Ruben Thys

    I was at a private school at the age of 11, you learn more then education, like art.

  12. George Beshay

    Sure I learned more things than education in my private school like arts, singing and basketball

  13. Caitlin Porter

    I attended a private school from year 6 – 11 and am now at college. The thing I notice the most is when my friend talk about secondary school experience I have no clue what they are on about due to my school being very cut off from any outsiders, don’t get me wrong is was a great school academically and we were all pushed to reach our best and the teachers were so helpful in helping us achieve everything though I still wonder what it would have been like at a normal secondary with normal experiences