Sunday, 28 August 2011

Is Private School Worth It?

There is an article in The Age Magazine (26/08/11, Page 37, by Lucinda Schmidt) about parents angry over their children's private school fees, which have increased significantly over the last ten years. Furthermore, these parents are demanding more transparency, claiming that they don't know how the money is spent.

While reading this article, I couldn't help thinking, "What do these parents expect?" It is no surprise that there are some very expensive private schools out there, some charging over $20,000 per year. If these parents were complaining about a government school, it would make sense. However, they have already signed on the bottom line and agreed to pay the fees. This is how things work in the private sector (i.e. the seller sets the prices and the buyer accepts it by entering into an agreement or rejects it by walking away). These are private schools that set their own prices. I would have thought that private enterprises have the right to set their own prices. If parents believes these fees are too high, they could demant that the government intervene to set prices. But if government sets prices, these private schools wouldn't really be private.

Would I send my children to a private school? The answer to that is yes. There is one private school that I consider to be a good school mainly because I spent eight years in there as a student. I then spent five years in a Catholic school and noticed a drop in quality. The quality of the first private school is not really in terms of good teachers or good methods of teaching. Rather, the original school had better facilities and students engaged in much more extra-curricular activities. Some people argue that it would be cheaper to bring your child to a government school and, with the savings, get the child to do these extra-curricular activities outside of school hours. This is not practical as there is limited time outside of school to do these activities and, secondly, the child would be performing these activities with his school colleagues, which is a missed opportunity in terms of building social skills.

But of course I don't have children yet and maybe I won't ever have children. The reasons why I would put my own child through a private school was because of positive experience that I myself had in the school. But I do believe that in terms of academic performance, much of it has to do with the talent of the child himself and furthermore how much support the parents give the child.

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