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Public vs private school: it’s a major choice for many Australian parents. So, is private schooling a better choice for your child or is the public school system just as good? Not all of us have the means or opportunity to choose which school we send our kids to. But for those of us who do, it can be an incredibly stressful and complicated decision to make.

Ultimately, there is no perfect choice. That said, by weighing up your options, you can make an informed decision on which institution would better fit your child’s needs. To help, Jacaranda Finance has investigated the pro’s and con’s you should look at when making your decision.

Getting Started


What’s Right For Your Child’s Needs?

Firstly you need to ask yourself a few questions to help you narrow down your choices.

  • Is there a good public school in your catchment area?
  • If not, how far away is the private school?
  • Are you happy to choose a religious private school or would a non-religious government school more suit your beliefs?
  • Does your child have any learning disabilities, delays or special needs?
  • Does the type of school create any additional advantage for your child in the way of sport, music or languages?
  • Are there more opportunities for your child at one school compared to another?

Differences Between Public and Private Schools

The key difference between public and private education is how it is funded. Private or independent schools are usually owned and operated by individuals or entities. In comparison, public schools are run through the Australian government.

This means private schools can sometimes offer more resources because of the money they make from tuition fees. As an independent institution, they also have more freedom when it comes to curriculum and are not required to be religiously ‘secular’ like public schools.

Here are some of the core differences between public and private schools:

Private Schools

  • Fees are much higher in comparison.
  • Facilities are usually more modern.
  • Admissions are lengthier and more complicated, and there are usually more requirements.
  • Class sizes are usually smaller.
  • Accommodation is offered in some schools.
  • There is religious education taught in many private/independent schools.

Public Schools

  • Considerably fewer school fees.
  • No accommodation offered.
  • Usually older facilities.
  • Admission is usually decided upon your catchment area.
  • Class sizes are generally larger.
  • Not religiously affiliated.

Are Private Schools Better Than Public Schools?

Although many would claim to have the answer to this question, the truth is more complicated. There’s growing evidence that suggests the type of school you send your kids to doesn’t make much difference to academic scores once socio-economic differences are taken into account. Because they have more money, private schools tend to offer children more opportunities. Yet will these opportunities work to the benefit of your child? And are they worth the additional cost? It all comes down to how you measure what’s right for your family.

Public vs Private School: What Do The Experts Say?

A study at the University of Queensland by Professor Luke Connelly and Dr Hong Son Nghiem has found that:

  • Birth weight
  • The amount of time a mother spends with her child
  • The education level of both parents
  • And how many books are in the house

Has more impact on a child than if they went to a public or private school.

Studies in the US and the UK have found similar outcomes. “Our results show that sending children to Catholic or other independent schools has no significant effect,” said Professor Connelly.

Children whose parents had both finished year 12 had significantly increased test scores.

However, another overriding factor was how many books the family had in their house. This apparently rates directly to the child’s learning through kindergarten and beyond.

Public or Private School: How Much Will it Cost?

Most private schools can set you back over $15,000 a year with Catholic Schools being a little bit cheaper for primary education. Alternatively, most public schools only charge a few hundred dollars worth of fees per year, which will provide significant savings.

Most will argue that the children receive so much more opportunities at a private school. Of course, that isn’t always the case. There are plenty of external activities you can also look into outside school, like sporting clubs.

If you’re ever in need of cash loans for additional school activities or class trips, you may consider applying for a quick loan through Jacaranda Finance.

Making the Final Call

Deciding on the right direction for your child can be a stressful experience. Even when you’ve made your final call, you may encounter doubt later on down the track. At the end of the day, all you can do is your research.

It’s important as well, to listen to your child. You can’t discount the importance of their social network or favourite teachers.

Remember, you also don’t have to make the decision alone. Choosing the right school for your child is a choice for you and your partner or family.

You may also appreciate our tips about saving money equipping your kids for school or on applying for a scholarship. You can even teach your kids about money.

Written by: Jacaranda Team