Students From Public Schools Do Better in Universities

Students From Public Schools Do Better in Universities

More news from Oz – a study has shown that students from public schools (which here means free, government run schools, which the majority of students attend) “do better” at University than students from private schools (where students (=parents) pay for schooling.)

The main findings were that students from independent schools and selective government schools got the highest scores in year 12 [the final year of high school] but their lower-scoring colleagues from non-selective, standard government schools caught up and went ahead of them in university.

They suggest that this is because

Students that attend government schools have got used to a bit of relative rough and tumble and they’re better able to cope when left to their own devices a little more at university,”

This reflects a popular idea, and almost certainly is true to some extent. For instance, in Queensland we have a statewide test (Queensland Core Skills test) taken by all students that scales the school’s results – the better the average mark, the better everyone at the school’s final ranking. Private schools train their students rigorously on how to do well in these tests (and, in disreptuable cases, have even been known to subtly remove “bad” students so as to improve the average.)

To be fair and scientific, the report might need to be taken with a grain of salt, as I’m not clear on how the statistics were compiled (e.g., is this the average trend for individual students, or are they just comparing the group means? Is there a sampling issue in that more private school students go to university, diluting the average?) But it certainly provides for interesting discussion.

I personally went to a public school, and couldn’t rate it highly enough. From talking to others, I’m convinced that the quality of teaching was as high at Kenmore High as anywhere else (and in all modesty!!!) I couldn’t have done better at a private school. I really think it’s ridiculous to pay upwards of $10,000 per year – perhaps as much as $100,000 for an entire schooling – for the same education I can receive as a public school. I’d much rather the money saved or invested and given to me for a downpayment on a house! Better yet, use it for travel or holidays or something which will enrich the child’s life a lot more than wearing a tie to school every day!

To be fair, some students probably function better in the more structured private school environment. But the above research shows the benefits probably aren’t long term (It might be possible that the private students are still better at Uni than they would have been if they’d gone to a public school.) The major advantage to me is the facilities – music, sport or academic, you’re usually going to get better at a private school since they’ve got the money to burn. But is it worth ten thousand dollars a year?! Although it will be (and should be!) debated, I think this study is important, and might raise awareness of the need or otherwise for private education.

What do you think?

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