Time for another reprint of one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles. As mentioned in it, I’ve already written about state health services in Australia. In an article called Health Insurance in Australia and Going to Hospital, I looked at the difference between private and state health care.
I then thought it would be a good idea to write a similar article comparing private and state schools and this is how it turned out. The article appeared in their June edition earlier this year. I called it Schools in Australia, they didn’t.
A couple of months ago I wrote an article here about private versus state health services. The take-up rate for private health insurance here in Australia, at 50%, was something like five times greater than in the UK. It’s a similar story when it comes to private education.
Latest figures, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are that 34.8% of Australian students attend private schools. In the UK, according to several sources I looked at, just 7% of children attend independent (private) schools.
Again, there is a massive difference between the two countries. Why do so many Australians prefer to pay for private education? I don’t know the answer to that, but having recently gone through the process of selecting a high school for our daughter Elizabeth, I can tell you about fees and results.
First, the fees.
We looked at three private schools for Elizabeth, one an independent grammar and the other two Catholic private schools. No, we are not Catholics, but you don’t have to be to go and their fees do tend to be lower than those of independent schools. The yearly fees for those two Catholic schools were $7000 and $12,000. The independent private school fees were around $15,000 a year.
According to reliable information I found online, the average annual fee for a private school in the UK is around £10,000; that’s roughly $20,000 Australian. As you can see, all three schools we looked at here were cheaper and one of them significantly so.
That said, I do know that Australia’s most expensive private schools charge something like $35,000 a year, but even that compares favourably with the UK’s most expensive schools whose fees are around £35,000 a year. These are boarding schools though, so you would get a little bit of food and a bed thrown in at those prices.
Of course, all school fees across both countries vary wildly, but I do wonder if, generally speaking, private school fees are lower here in Australia.
Now the results.
I think many people moving to Australia seem to naturally think that they will need to send their child to a private school. It is worth remembering though, that almost twice as many Australian children attend state schools than go private, so it is still easily the most popular choice.
In the UK, there is distinct evidence that privately educated students get better results. Apparently two out of three A-level students from independent schools make it to a top university compared with less than one in four from state schools. That’s a massive difference, but here in Australia I have found no real evidence of private schools completely outperforming state run schools.
In the end, after all our research, we chose to send our daughter to the local state high school. The results achieved by this school, you can check all school performance results on a website called www.myschool.edu.au, were better than those of the two Catholic schools we looked at and they even matched the results of some of the more expensive private schools.
So you don’t have to go private, state schools in Australia do a great job. Elizabeth loves her new school, especially as it’s where most of her junior school friends go as well.