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State vs Private Education: What Difference Does It Make?

state vs private education

Education is an important part of raising children and preparing them to lead successful lives so finding the right school is crucial. Each year, many parents try to decide whether to send their child to either a private or state school. There are very good, even excellent schools in both sectors. If you’re a parent wondering about the pros and cons of a private education for your child, in this article we offer a brief and unbiased comparison of the education systems available in the UK.

What Is a State School?
State schools are government-funded and provide free education to pupils in the UK between the ages of 4 and 18. These schools usually must follow the National Curriculum and have varying levels of control. There are various types of state school, such as local authority controlled maintained schools, academies with their own curriculum, selective grammar schools (which select students at the age of 11, based on the result of the 11+ exam), and religion focused faith schools. Academies are independent from the local council and can follow a different curriculum but do still receive government funding.

What Is a Private School?
Private schools (also known as independent schools or public schools) do not receive funding from the government. Instead they fund themselves through school fees or donations from various alumni. They also usually have a board of governors or trustees that are independent from any organisation, and some may be run by their owner with no governing body. They can cater for any age group, charge a wide variety of fees (from £10,000 to over £40,000 per year) and are not required to follow the National Curriculum. They do however need to conform to official standards of education and health and safety, and are regularly inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate as well as (or instead of) Ofsted.

Are Private Schools Better?
Most parents choose private schooling either because they went to private schools themselves, and/or they want their children to benefit from smaller class sizes, better facilities, and to mix with a preferred peer group. But whether a private education is automatically superior to a state one is not necessarily true. Not all independent schools are academic powerhouses, and many state schools are academically excellent. However the heads of independent schools often suggest that a major problem for state schools is government regulation, in the form of the National Curriculum. They say that there is little room for passionate teachers to deviate from the main curriculum. But a good teacher will inspire regardless of the curriculum they have to work with.

Whatever your choice, your child’s education will form the bedrock for who they eventually become. As with most things in life, there will be trade-offs. But you know your child better than anyone else and knowing what to take into consideration will help you decide.

About the Author: Helen Say is a freelance copywriter and blogger

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