13th May 2021
Are independent schools better than state schools? Sometimes but not always. Despite the reputation of the independent school sector for good exam results, high university admission rates, and social benefits throughout life, the ultimate benefit a child gets from independent education depends on the school itself. Many state schools provide an excellent level of academic and social support their pupils.
So, how do parents make the choice whether to send their children to an independent or to a state school? In this article we review the main advantages and disadvantages of state and independent education:
State School Advantages
- No additional school fees – all children have an entitlement to state primary and secondary education, paid for indirectly through taxation.
- Standard curriculum – all state schools follow the same national curriculum, providing – in theory at least – the same standards of learning across the country.
- Location – there are enough state schools to provide places for all children close to where they live, often with a choice of more than one school.
State School Disadvantages
- Catchment areas – whether or not you have a good state school in your area is a postcode lottery, so much so that house prices in the vicinity of good schools are often higher than those in other areas.
- Inconsistency – the quality of tuition and the social environment in state schools varies widely, with some providing better standards of care than others.
- Lack of choice – if parents are not happy with their child’s state school there are limited options to relocate them without moving out of the area, and there is no choice over the curriculum studied by the child.
Independent School Advantages
- Smaller class sizes – independent schools have average class sizes of 10 to 15 pupils, giving teachers more time to spend with individual children.
- Cultural diversity – some independent schools cater to children from specific faith or cultural backgrounds, providing an ethical ethos often missing from state schools.
- Parental involvement – many independent schools encourage greater active involvement from parents in their child’s learning, with resources available to support home schooling and extra tuition.
- Highly qualified teachers – many independent schools offer higher than average wages for teaching staff, letting them attract higher qualified and more experienced teachers than some state schools.
- Greater academic focus – many independent schools depend on consistently excellent exam results for their reputation. They therefore pour more resources into reinforcing core subjects with their pupils, encouraging greater academic attainment.
- Individual pupil support – both in general and for children with special needs, disabilities, or learning difficulties, independent schools may have greater resources and experience in bringing out their full potential than they would have at a state school.
- University admissions – graduates from independent schools have an excellent chance of gaining admittance to one of the UK’s top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.
Independent School Disadvantages
- Independent school fees – the fees charged by independent schools are a significant investment, with the top schools charging £40,000 per year or more. Although the cost of fees varies widely between schools, the expense of an independent education is the biggest deterrent for parents.
- Location – as there are far fewer independent schools than state schools, there is no guarantee you will find one in your area that fits in with your budget and aspirations. Many independent schools offer boarding, but this increases the cost of education – and not all children and families like the idea of boarding school.
Find Out More
SFIA offer independent school fees advice, specialising in helping parents fund and spread the cost of independent education. To discuss your options or to find out more about our services, please get in touch with one of our advisers.
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