Private schools in Australia consistently outperform public schools not due to better financial resources or more selective student acceptance procedures but because of the following reasons:
- Private schools do not drain money from public schools
- Private schools have spent less per student than public schools
- Private schools are not ‘elitist’
- Private schools achieve better results than public schools
- Private school students have better post-school outcomes
- Parents choose private schools for many reasons, not just academic performance
The evidence strongly suggests that private schools offer their students something that goes beyond financial resources and family background. Contributing factors could be the quality and dedication of teaching staff, the autonomy of the principal, and variations in curriculum and instruction.
Rather than regarding the success of private schools as being at the expense of public schools, it is time to think about how to ensure that all children gain the quality of education available in private schools and the handful of excpetional public schools.
Jennifer Buckingham is a Policy Analyst with The Centre for Independent Studies, currently researching schooling and education. For the record, she attended public primary and secondary schools.