Private vs public school: debate rages on

“I would never send my kids to a state school,” the woman at the next basin over from me said to her hairdresser.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with those schools,” she added smugly. “They’re just not for us.”

Internally, I rolled my eyes. Externally, I said and did nothing.


Which bothered me. I wish I had said something.

I wish I had stood up for public schools.

Of course, there are some schools that are more or less resourced than others. But my experience of enrolling my kids in the public school system on the Gold Coast has been nothing short of spectacular, so I wish I’d put her and her superior, misinformed attitude in their place.

I wish I’d told her that the teachers are bloody excellent – they’re committed, hard-working, tenacious, passionate, and they devote endless extra hours to the kids they’re educating.

I wish I’d told her that my daughter’s teacher in particular has had extensive experience working with special needs kids, which is why he was well suited to the complex student cases that arose in her class this year.

I wish I’d informed her that the extra-curricular programs are awesome – my kids learn string instruments, are on the choir, do after-school cooking classes and go through a gymnastics program once a year.

I wish I’d told her they are afforded plenty of opportunities; the senior kids go away on camps, travel to Canberra, and junior students hop over to the local private school for regular swimming lessons.

I wish I’d reminded her there are good teachers at private schools and bad teachers at public schools, and vice versa.

Most of all, I wish I’d told her that the modern world has no time for snobby, superior attitudes like hers.

We live in a democratic age where almost everyone has access to the internet, and all of the educational opportunities it presents. High school dropouts can start billion-dollar companies. College dropouts can become high-achieving executives.

Getting ahead in life is often still about who you know, but these days, you don’t need to go to a private school to “make the right connections”.

Private schools are amazing. But public schools can be pretty amazing, too. I know parents who choose private school are spending a lot of money, but isn’t it time we dropped the superiority complex?