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A comparison between public and private schools

Australia Choosing a school in Australia can be stressful, confusing and complicated. To show you what we mean, you decide — then we'll try to convince you that you're wrong. Not everyone has the means to choose a school for their kids. But for those who do, it can be a fraught decision.

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Making the perfect choice is impossible but by thinking about your child and your family, you can at least make a good choice. To help you understand what's at stake, tell us which way you're leaning and we'll give you a reason to change your mind. Let's get started If you were in a position to choose today, where would you send your children? If you're leaning towards paying for private schooling, you're not alone. About a third of Australian families are choosing to pay. But have you really thought about the alternative?

These are some of the arguments against opting out of the public system. Following these arguments, we look at some of the reasons to pay up for schooling. At the end of the article are some tips for making the decision.

How do you calculate value for money? If parents a comparison between public and private schools all other taxpayers are pouring money into the education of private school children, then the academic results must be streets ahead, right? There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the type of school does not make much difference to scores if socio-economic differences are taken into account.

David Gillespie, author of Free Schools, says the most important things are good teachers and a good principal — and they can be found in public schools too. But more commonly, all that extra dosh ends up in new buildings. Whatever's happening to the dough, it isn't changing educational outcomes at the individual level. And that's a lot cheaper than private school.

Could that money be better spent? Have you ever actually added up how much it costs to put kids through a private school? Australian Scholarships Group — a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates savings plans for parents — estimates the various costs involved in sending your children to a public versus private school. Because it's not just fees to consider. Think of all the other things you could do with that money: Apart from paying with your taxes, there are still expenses such as books, resource schemes and uniforms one Brisbane state school is under fire for threatening detention if students don't wear regulation shoes.

What about the big picture? Over the past few decades, the make-up of government and non-government secondary schools has shifted. They once had roughly the same proportions of students from low-income and high-income families, but now government schools have almost twice the proportion of students from low-income families compared to high-income families, and vice versa for non-government schools. Economics editor at The Age, Peter Martin, a comparison between public and private schools public schools are now in the same 'death spiral' as electricity companies, private health funds and the NBN: It's not only the electricity industry that wants a way out.

Compared to Canada, our school students are more socially divided. Even though our economies and societies are quite similar, Canada regularly outperforms us on international league tables such as PISA. How about being part of the solution? Australians do spend above the OECD average on education, with a larger-than-usual percentage coming from parents. Of the money that comes from government sources, Australia gives an extraordinary amount of money to private schools.

In Australia, 76 per cent of government education funding goes to government schools. Economist Trevor Cobbold's analysis of data including figures from the Commonwealth Education Department shows the percentage of overfunded private schools is likely to double from 17 per cent to 32 per cent under new funding measures unless state governments make adjustments.

If the answer is yes, then why are only the kids at private schools getting access to these features? By supporting the public system, you would be best placed to bring back some balance.

Private School

So you think Gonski 2. Australia's move towards a "needs-based, sector-blind" funding system has been a long time coming, and now we have new federal legislation that should, in theory, go some way towards addressing the imbalance. It is now locked in to providing 80 per cent of the School Resource Standard to private schools, and 20 per cent of the SRS to public schools. This means it is now up to the states to shift their funds and ensure that private schools aren't overfunded and public schools underfunded state governments are now required to provide at least 75 per cent of government school SRS and at least 15 per cent of non-government school SRS.

Mr Cobbold's analysis predicts the number of overfunded non-government schools will skyrocket under the new funding arrangements. It is the best special deal they have ever had," he said. How about building resilience? A lot of time and resources are devoted to building resilience in children these days. Are you really doing your kids a favour by putting them in an environment that will hold their hand all the way through school?

Non-government schools do have a reputation for expecting excellence, and the argument is that this spurs kids on to achieve more. But what if you want to raise a self-starter? Writer Rebecca Douglas, who went to a government school, believes that doing it a bit tougher than other kids has been good for her. We've all heard the arguments about private schools opening up networking opportunities, but what about the ability to socially adapt? Public schools expose kids to a greater mix of people, building up their social skills and preparing them for life in an open society.

The latest Census showed the category of "no religion" was a more common answer than every other religion or Christian denomination for the first time. But Australians continue to send their children to religious schools in huge numbers. Schools run by religious institutions come with mandatory religious studies and they understandably come with a focus on worship. They also have the right to discriminate based on their values, meaning staff can be terminated for no other reason than being gay, or remarrying after divorce.

If that doesn't line up with your family's beliefs, can you turn a blind eye? Apart from religious philosophy, it's important that the school's core values roughly line up with those of your family. If values such as diversity and acceptance are important to you, how well do you think your chosen school a comparison between public and private schools celebrate them?

You decide: Should you send your kids to public or private school?

How convenient is the school you've chosen? As of 2016, there were more than twice as many government schools in Australia than non-government schools, so chances are your closest school is a public one.

Travelling adds time to your child's school day and makes it less likely that their friends will be from your area. As kids become teenagers, they start wanting to stay up later — and sleep in later. They aren't being lazy, it's how they're wired. Getting enough sleep is important for a whole range of health reasons.

If you're closer to a local high school, your teenager will probably get more sleep, avoiding very early starts. A recent study linked later high school start times to better economic outcomes. You probably can't easily convince the education department to start school later but you could conceivably do the same thing for your child by choosing a school that's easier to get to, allowing a bit of extra kip before breakfast.

Plus, don't you spend enough of your time in the car already?

The latest ABS stats say Australians are spending 14. If you already live close to a decent public school, why spend extra time and money getting to a private school further away? How do the facilities stack up? A succession of funding decisions by federal governments means that private schools have the ability to provide better technology, newer buildings, bigger swimming pools, and sometimes attract better teachers.

For many parents, these differences — both visible and perceived — are key to sending their children to private school.

Why not literally aim for the skies? One private high school in Brisbane recently opened its own observatory. It's not what you know, it's who you know These days, 35 per cent of parents are choosing to send their child to private school. Although this percentage appears to have stagnated, it's still a significant number of people, and overwhelmingly made up of higher-income families. Have you thought about what advantages your child could gain from making connections with others who are likely to become future leaders?

Even if you like the idea of your child getting to mix with people from all walks of life at school — maybe to toughen them up or teach them empathy — you might not like the thought of them missing out on opportunities because of where they went to school. What kind of job will they be suited to? If you think your child might go into a profession, it's worth thinking about having a reputable school on their resume as they start their working life.

Consider this scenario, relayed by public school graduate Rebecca Douglas after a conversation with a couple of lawyer friends: Apparently the reasoning was that private school kids would likely have connections that could benefit the firm.

My other friend chimed in to say that her employer had taken the same approach. Does that school suit your family? If you are a religious family, the cost of private school might be worth it simply to know that your child is spending their days in an environment that is more likely to reflect your values and give them a deeper understanding of your chosen faith.

Or perhaps you believe in the value of a particular educational philosophy. Have you checked out the curriculum on offer, and whether it suits your child's strengths? The independent schools network says its range of schools includes: Non-denominational schools Schools with church or ethnic affiliations.

For example, Lutheran, Anglican, Baptist, Jewish and Islamic schools Montessori schools Schools supporting Students With Disability Special Assistance Schools Schools with programs for gifted and talented students Schools that offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Schools that cater for international students It's all about the teachers and principal Educational philosophy is not the only area in which non-government schools are more independent. Have you thought about the school's ability to have greater control over staffing?

Karen Spiller, former principal of St Aidan's girls' school in Brisbane, says school teachers and the quality of school leadership are crucial. The research is absolutely clear," she told Brisbane's Courier Mail. The mentoring and coaching of staff and putting out high expectations and making sure you are engaging in the a comparison between public and private schools of teaching and learning on a day-to-day basis, is absolutely vital.

We're not all suited to academia, but we need to at least get through school to have a shot at many of life's opportunities.