As long as I have been in the UK, and have been old enough to pay attention to politics, private schools have always been an issue for the left in general and for the Labour Party in particular. This has never been clearer than during the last election, when the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supported the idea of abolishing private schools. Their main argument was that it gave some people (mainly referring to the rich) an unfair advantage.
Labour’s statement was true in a sense – those who go to private school, will on average, gain better qualifications and achieve higher grades. That means a higher chance of going to university and obtaining higher paid jobs. There is also data suggesting that people who attended private schools will be better paid for doing the same job than a person who attended state schools and they will also be more likely to start their own business or own stock. Another way of putting this, is that a privately educated person is more likely to have capital or investment within the economy.
So from the sound of it, there are benefits from having a strong private school presence in a country, as it seems private education provides more benefits for the pupils than the public counterpart. This of course poses a question – ‘why is that?’
Well, there are a few contributing factors – one of the most often cited reasons in the political sphere, is that these schools can raise more finances through private means, allowing them to spend more money on their students. However, this is not the only reason and the data shows that it is not the biggest factor for most private schools performing better than their public cousins.
From looking at studies and talking with former private school students and teachers, it can be suggested that it is the subjects that are taught in private schools and the investment they make in the students that gives them an advantage within our society.
While Talking on the matter on why private schools a former private school teacher stated that-
“They teach the students how to lead and how to achieve in the UK. They will teach them all about tax and personal finance in maths, they will go over micro, macro and personal economics. They will teach them how to save money and how to invest their money and they will also go over how to start, run and manage a business”.Former private school teacher.
A statement from a former student (who went to both private and public schools) helps craft an image of the differences between the two systems –
“The people at state schools go through a list of what they need to learn to become a worker, whilst people at private schools, learn how to thrive in a system and how that system works”.Former private school student
This is further supported by data from research on the differences between people who went to these different school systems. People from private schools are far more likely to have stocks or business assets than their public school counterparts. This is even true for students who are less well-off that go through private education.
This indicates that a major reason for the differences between the two systems is that private schools teach on a wider range of matters, which can help individuals build themselves up within the economic system of the UK, whilst the state schools do not. They teach from a set curriculum of what they think the student needs to know. Example – private schools teach their students about business and how it works. This can help an individual in many ways, from basic career progression to starting and enterprise on their own.
To add my personal experience, having knowledge of how business works has helped me gain pay increases and promotions at work. Even if a person does not want to start or run a business, having knowledge of what their boss is doing and what they need can help an individual advance in their career.
Also, it has been a common complaint, that many people who come out of public schools know nothing about how taxes or their own country’s economy works. This can make it much harder for people to truly understand and thrive in the current system. Public schools are failing to educate students on day to day matters which every adult has to deal with in the course of their everyday lives.
With all of this information on why privately educated students do better than public students, I think it would be better to copy and implement private schools’ techniques into the public system, rather than just throwing it away in order to ‘equalise’ everyone to a lower standard of education.
In the end, it is not private schools robbing from the public education system, it is the public schools failing to modernise and help their students improve their lives.
Results differences between public and Private
Data on performance despite economic background
Interesting reads on the Topic