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?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It is time the superiority complex with Private schools was left behind. Just like our everyday lives, there are good, bad and indifferent teachers, students and parents at both state and private schools. There are always teachers who strive to give their students the best education possible and those that just don’t care. In the end, its a choice we make as parents for our children and what suits some, doesn’t suit others. Either way it doesn’t make the child or young adult a decent human being, that comes from home.

I get that this is annoying, and to be honest it happens exactly the same the other way. My children are in an Independent school and I have never EVER made a comment about children who are sent to public schools (it is an individual choice up to the parent). Yet I have had many comments from parents who’s children goes to public school on how there is no difference in outcome, its a waste of money, its nonsense that they are taught religion (even though I am religious, and these people know this), the private schools are full of snobs etc etc.

Many parents who send their children to private school are not well to do and are doing their utmost to save / get that education money together. I am from South Africa where we don’t get Tertiary Education paid for or assisted by the government – my parents had us all live on a shoestring to save up for our University – honestly, we were poor growing up but all had our education paid for – this is a far cry from people walking around with a superiority complex. It is very similar for many families in private school, they are honestly having to cut many corners to make ends meet – not all of them are rich snobs with superiority complexes!

I don’t think the problem is Public vs Private. Both are fine, and amazing like you say (depending on your location and your personal beliefs etc) – the problem is that people seem to think whatever choices they make for their children are the correct choices and that they should judge and comment on other people’s choices. In which ever way it goes, its disrespectful. What choices other people make is not my business and not for me to comment on, the same with choices I make for my kids. Some respect and manners in this department is all that is needed to end this Public vs Private debate… Honestly, each to their own!