Primary Public Vs Private School: Which Is Better?

In today's time, which is better?

Assuming it's the same area, same academic result, etc.

In what way would private be worth the fees?

More than just mere academic result, would the kids have good creativity, social skill, street smart, etc?

Poll Options

  • 143
    Private of course. You pay what you get.
  • 58
    Public. Because it's near free.
  • 391
    All the same (public anyway, because it's free(


  • Assuming it's the same area, same academic result, etc.

    Which never happens…

    • Yeah, well my question given that premise is why are you even looking at paying for private if it's the same area and same academic result? Isn't that part of what people pay for private over public - better academic results, better area, etc?

      OP - I'm happy to sell you a product privately for significantly more than the shop sells it for just because it's a private sale?

      • +9 votes

        Isn't that part of what people pay for private over public - better academic results, better area, etc?

        No, the academic result argument is not well supported by data. The price of admission at private schools does buy you rich friends though, and academic results don't matter so much when you know the powerful people.

      • i went to chandler


    • Last year my daughters public primary school came 1st in the state for the Maths Olympiad and 5th in the country. The nearest private school (also one of the most expensive) was 10th in the sate.

      • Hey. Can I ask what school that is. Feel free to dm me if that's sensitive info. Still a few years away for me but worth thinking about.

        • Mount Waverley Primary School.

          • @stumo: This is a pretty silly argument RE: Maths Olympiad etc.

            I've been quite heavily involved in tutoring during my time at uni, I have a strong belief quite a few of the schools in this area are doing well based on the demographic and the drive of the parents. Majority of my clientele, despite being based in the Inner City, would be students from Glen Waverley/Mount Waverley driving into the city for additional tutoring and academic assistance, some students being in year 5-6 and parents wanting them to have tutoring 2-3 years in advance of their current standing. I think the drive of individual students/families doesn't adequately represent the quality of the school.

            I can say from almost 7 years of tutoring over 300+ students, there is definitely a distinction between public vs. private school students. I've seen a trend with private school students potentially due to access, who they socialise with etc having an intrinsic drive to do well, while students from public school it really does depend on the individual and family background/socioeconomic level.

            • @stonkspls: Just think really carefully about your last sentence.

              With public school students, you seem think family background and socioeconomic level are the key determinants of student behaviour and performance.

              With private school students, they're just better…why, exactly? You don't say, beyond "potentially due to access". Access to what?

              The answer is money - exactly as it is for public students. You think you're seeing a difference between private and public, and you're attributing the differences you see to those institutions. But you're actually just seeing the difference between richer and poorer.

              We know the key determinants of student performance, private and public. They're a mother's age at the birth of her first child, her level of education, and their socioeconomic status. And we know where the children of older, better educated, wealthier mothers go. They go to private schools.

              And then everybody sucks up the lie. Private school kids must do better because they're going to private schools. No, they do better because they're wealthier. And there are plenty of examples of what happens when wealthy kids go to public schools - like Narrabundah College in the ACT, or Lyneham High, or Telopea, or Alfred Deakin. They excel, because we've known for a very long time that public vs private has nothing to do with it. If it did, those government schools wouldn't be near the top of the list.

              My kids go to a private school. It's convenient, I can easily afford it, and I kid myself that it's not because I don't want my kids mixing with the "wrong type" of people. I'm not kidding myself that they're getting a better education than the kids at the public school the next suburb over, because that's not what the evidence shows. I'm just older, richer, and more prejudiced, despite being the product of the public system myself and doing pretty bloody well in life.

              • @GrueHunter: Agree. I used the maths Olympiad example as a comparison on as much of a level playing field as I could. Of course overall general results across the whole school population will be lower for public. But using maths olympiad results shows they are being beaten at their own game.

              • @GrueHunter: The TLDR in your comment would be,

                If you are in a position and able to send your children to a private school, you should.

            • @stonkspls: I know what you mean about the demographic in this area. My daughter was the only "WASP" in the program and the only one who hasn't been tutored. The results still stand though since tutoring is even more prevalent at private schools, especially among students they allow into programs such as this.

              MWPS also need recognition for even allowing my daughter into the program. She got an extra award for "most improved" because she found it hard at the beginning (having never been exposed to competitive exams/questions like this before). At a private school she probably wouldn't have got in. She ended up in the top 3 in her team of 15 or so in the final exam. A lot of that I put down to their excellent maths teacher.

              I just found the private school results were pretty dire considering how much they charge and how selective they are. And good primary schools can offer much better outcomes for a developing child.

      • So… It's not equal then 😉

      • Back in the day, our teachers would give us multiple attempts per question for the Maths Olympiad. If things are still regulated like how they were back then, then this is one test where results won't mean much.

    • Holding all else constant ay 😂

    • Happens in Noosa / Sunshine Coast. Very comparable schools

  • +48 votes

    Private would be worth the fees if you live in an area with subpar public options. That being said, I’d rather invest those fees into living in the areas with good public schools.

    I know many people who went to public schools that did better than people who went to private. But that’s because the public schools were good or the students were focused.

    Private schools can be useful to encourage students to do better when they might not be focused, I know someone who would have struggled in the public system. But private can also really deter some kids. I know a kid who left private to go public and has thrived.

    I also think public offers more diversity in students which is good.

    • +1 vote

      What about social friends?

      • What about them?


          socio-economic I mean.

          • @DisabledUser225214: I still don’t understand what you are asking.

            Children have the ability to make friends and meaningful relationships in both environments. Friendships are important, regardless of socio-economic backgrounds.

            • @jjjaar:

              still don’t understand what you are asking

              OP only wants their kids to associate with rich kids. OP is worried the poor ones will give their kids sex, drugs and rock & roll.

              • @Chandler: That was my concern, but I wanted them to spell it out.

                • @jjjaar:

                  That was my concern

                  Especially the rock & roll!

                • @jjjaar: Can't see why that's a concern at all.

                  Nothing wrong with parents preferring their kids to hang out with other kids with similar or higher socio-economic status, better facilities, extracurricular activities, etc.

                  e.g. If I'm Jamie Packer, i'd happy to not let my kids to go in
                  Auburn Public School for example. Not trying to say there's anything wrong with that school, but it's just too far from home to be convenient.

                  If you don't wish to/don't have the means to enroll your kids into a public school, there's always public schools or selective, which is always better than none/awesome respectively.

                  The poll result shows the make up of people's socio-economic class within this website.

          • @DisabledUser225214: The only difference between a rich kid and a poor kid is that a poor kid will be smoking weed and the rich kid will be doing cocaine.

            • @NatoTomato: Too much Hollywood mate.

              And god bless for your kids.

              • @berry580: Absolutely not. In my town, I went to a public school and we all just smoked weed, and it was very rare for people to go harder than that.

                Private catholic school down the road got raided because kids were dealing coke at school.

                I mean, maybe my experience is weird, but I'm making my comment out of experience.

      • What about non social friends?

      • I know what you mean - you are hoping that kids in private schools will meet influential people who will give them free stuff later in life.

        Think about that:
        1. Is this really what you want for your kid. Unearned jobs from friends.
        2. Is it really likely.
        3. Even if it did happen - would it really be ‘free’?
        4. Finally, do you really want your kid to associate with people who give jobs to people depending on their school rather than their schools.

        In some countries where there is little opportunity anyway, I could imagine answering yes to those questions. But not in Australia.

        Disclaimer: We can’t afford private school anyway.

        • …..or, y'know, gift them a membership of Ozbargain and save your money….

        • I guess it's about who is in your social circle. If you have influential, rich friends it will help you in someways.

          Disclaimer: I too can't afford private schools.

          • @Trioboy: I know what you’re saying, but I have one or two rich and influential friends in my social circle as an adult now. I’m not sure how they could help me in some way without it being corrupt or at least dodgy.

        • this isn't really what happens. What happens is that your kid associates with the kids of wealthy people. The kids of wealthy people get their behaviours from other kids around them and their parents. After many years, they become very similar, and spot cues and act the same. They equally spot people who don't spot said queues and act a bit differently.

          Once this happens, they are in the 'club'. What I mean is your kid (who's now an adult) can meet other wealthy people, and the other wealthy people subconsciously or consciously recognise that your kid is familiar, they can get along, they feel that your kid fits in with them socially, and therefore gets subconsciously biased towards. They might feel like being that person's friend won't be embarrassing, or that if they work with them they will be reliable. Contrast that with someone who may have come from overseas, or from a different socio-economic background, and maybe that person can't be understood as easily, and so the wealthy (now) adults don't feel as comfortable around that person, they may not hire them even if they have better experience, or they might not invite them out to social events because they don't feel as easy with them, or feel that something is not quite 'right'.

          What I am describing and what private school provides is essentially assisting your kid with becoming socially mobile, compared with public school which generally doesn't provide them with as wealthy friends. This will be the new frontier of discrimination if racism ever gets overcome. It's invisible, doesn't have anything to do with outwardly obvious physical attributes, and can be just as limiting the workplace. It's also possibly the single best reason to do away with private school altogether. And it's not because private school is in any way 'better' (although they do have much more money to spend on all sorts of things which doesn't hurt).

          This is not to say an astute child with great interpersonal skills can't make the same jump into a more wealthy social circle, but it's much easier if they are already there, and if they aren't it's not a given they can make that jump.

          Tl/dr: it's more about being in more wealthy social circles and being able to fit and pass off as one of 'them'

    • Where we were living when we had our kids the local public high school didn't have a good reputation, primary school was fine though. We decided to put that money we'd spend on a private school into property. When our eldest daughter was approaching high school age we move to a suburb where there's one of the highest ranked public high schools in the state which has had a massive renovation and the facilities there are excellent. It's one of the few schools that offer a gifted and talented program which my son got into. We bought one of the worst houses in a great street and renovated it to be the best house in the street.

      I went to a private school. I don't think I got better education than the kids that went to a good public school. One of the problems I struggled with was none of my school friends lived nearby at all and friends from my former school snubbed me because I was going to a private school. At the private school there was two types of students, the rich kids and the kids who's parents who were sacrificing a lot to put their kids through private school. It does create a bit of a divide. The only good thing about the private school I liked was the extra curricular activities were really good.

      • You summed up very well. I am planning to move to good area (renting) for next 6 years just foe the good education of my kid. Public school is rated high.

        • Rentals in our schools catchment area are highly sort after as lots people do what you are planning to do. They couldn't afford to buy here so they rent then move to somewhere they can afford to buy after the kids finish school. Or as the school has the gifted and talented program (GATE), which you can attend out of area, means it's very competitive to get into that program. Our school had the second highest acceptance score after the dedicated school for GATE because we had so many GATE kids apply to our school.

      • I agree with that however, i think if you are putting your kids into private schools for an academic benefit then its def. NOT worth the money.

        I think the real difference comes in the well roundness of the experience and the personalized care you get in a private school. For example, if your child is not great at reading or public speaking, they will pick that up and offer one on one assistance in that area. I also think that private school teachers are better trained in other aspects of education outside of the subject they teach.

    • So if you want to invest in a better education … buy a more expensive property.

      Although true, this is a rather perverse outcome, which results in suburbs which are too expensive for the public school teachers to live in, but just fine for those involved in the real-estate industry.

      On an inter-generational level, the "invest in property to secure a child's education" is an even more severe barrier to generational economic mobility than any potential benefit/barrier presented by private school fees.

  • +3 votes

    Assuming it's the same area, same academic result, etc.

    if it's the same results then exactly what benefits are there to attending a private school? instead you're indebted to almost $100k in total for your child's education start to finish, and all the unnecessary add-ons from there. Not to mention the culture which surrounds private schools. Search up Skevvies.

    • just did google search and read urban dictionary… not what i thought it would say

      • +1 vote

        ah must be some confusion, I was referring to the toxic private school culture surrounding St Kevin's in Melbourne

    • $100k wouldn’t even get you three years of a good private school.

  • They're both terrible, might as well pick the cheapest

  • Any private schools affiliated with cashrewards?

    • -27 votes

      In theory, we should get government rebate for not using public school.

      Just like we get rebate if we have private insurance.

      • +27 votes

        No. You have chosen to use a private provider. Private and religious schools often get considerably more government funding than public schools.

        • -26 votes

          I know, my point is we reduce cost to the government by taking private school, so they should give us rebate.

          • @DisabledUser225214: That's like saying. if I take an Uber instead of public transport (bus/tram/train) then I'm reducing costs to the government, so give me a rebate on my Uber cost.

            • -13 votes

              @DashCam AKA Rolts: No, like I said, it's more like saying if you take private medical insurance, then you get lower medicare levy.

              • @DisabledUser225214:

                it's more like saying if you take private medical insurance, then you get lower medicare levy.

                No, you don't pay a lower Medicare Levy, you avoid a surcharge, which is essentially a penalty for not taking out Private Health cover if your income exceeds a threshold.

          • @DisabledUser225214: But no you don’t because the government is still providing money to the school. Why would they subsidise something they are already paying for?

            If the government withdrew all funds to private schools then perhaps it would be an option. But I can tell you if they withdrew all funding from private schools, their appeal would be lost on many.


              @jjjaar: Do the governments provide equal amount to both private and public, like the building costs, etc?

              • @DisabledUser225214: It's a complex funding model.
                Public schools are funded from State Government budgets and Federal funds.
                Private schools receive their funding from a combination of Federal funding and school fees.
                There are some complex computations in funding private schools relating to socio-economic indicators. This has been based on the post-codes of students attending the schools.
                The Federal Government funds per student and has paid more per student in private schools than they do for public schools, taking the position that public schools are a state responsibility.

              • +17 votes

                @DisabledUser225214: No. They don’t.

                I know many teachers, some work in public some in religious and some in private schools, all within about a 5km radius. The private schools overwhelmingly have more funding per student than the others, with religious schools still getting more than private.

                This is what should be the same across the board. A per student payment to each school. Any remaining amount should then be given to public schools.

                Instead, there are private schools in this group with private pools and stadiums, and the public schools don’t have heating in half the school.

                • @jjjaar: If you’d have attended a decent school, you’d know that anecdotal evidence is irrelevant. What you’re stating is utter bullshit. Here are the facts: the post you are replying to is correct. To put it in a nutshell, schools are funded on a per student basis, with a mixture of federal and state funding, depending on the type of school. The total amount of government funding is always less in a private school, per student, than a government school. (Off the top of my head it’s about $13k at public schools and $10k at private schools). What you are doing is promulgating lies. There are seperate grants available to all schools for infrastructure costs, and these are awarded by the state and federal governments, and because private schools have more money thanks to fees, they sometimes take more (as a percentage) of these infrastructure grants.

                  You can’t blame the lack of facilities in public schools on government funding. Most of these advantages in private schools are funded from private sources, such as fundraising, parent donations or bequeathments.

              • @DisabledUser225214: Nope, private schools generally receive more and whinge whenever the government wants to change it.

                • @Zephyrus: Just not true.

                  • @Burnertoasty: I went to look up facts to back up my claim, I stand corrected as it higher for public students.
                    It's a confusing mix of federal and state money, so it's definitely something in need of reform and it wouldn't surprise me if some private schools get way more funding more a student than they ought to.

            • @jjjaar: They'd collapse like the private health industry is going to, despite billions of dollars of public subsidies. In both health and education if the private industries are unsustainable without public funding we'd all be far better off if the government simply funneled the money into the public systems.

      • when you pay private school fees, you're not paying for tuition. That is almost 100% subsidised. You're paying for facilities, better excursions, smaller class sizes etc.

        • Funny thing is my extension maths class in a public school in suburban Sydney was just me. Idk about private schools having smaller class sizes.

          • @Cobalt Owl: On the timetable or before/after school?
            Did you have a teacher for all periods over the 3 units?

            Wouldn't you rather have say 10 in the class so other students could support you?

      • What are you on about. Private schools get more government funding than public schools.

      • You don't reduce the cost on the government by going to a private school.

        • You literally do. Straight from the education department:

          • @Burnertoasty: Looking at the $ cost per year is an extremely basic and poor way of understanding the true cost of a system. That's the same as all the idiots that say "I have private healthcare to reduce load on the public system", a verifiably false proposition and lovely piece of liberal party propaganda that people love to stupidly spew.

            • @tablewhale: This 👆🏻

            • @tablewhale: I'm rather interested to know the 'demonstrably false' evidence that you have to say that private healthcare expenditure doesn't reduce the load on the public system.

              I say this as a salaried general practitioner in a community health service with 95+% direct billing (better known as bulk-billing).

              I can say as a provider of health services, and knowing other providers of health services, and the behaviour of other healthcare providers each time there is a market opportunity, that even if private healthcare expenditure doesn't reduce government healthcare spending (and I find it difficult to see how it could not, compared to services provided…) it sure does increase supply of healthcare services.

              For that matter, I expect the same for private expenditure in education, be it part-time, such as tutoring, or private schools.

              Starting from the small potatoes, do you think all those university students would tutor high-school strangers if they were not paid (which is essentially private education expenditure)?

              Similarly, private education expenditure lifts the wages of (at least some) teachers, and sometimes allows smaller class sizes (so more pay for 'less work'), again effectively increasing supply per student.

  • +24 votes

    Kids are just going to disappoint you anyhows… Might as well save the $$$.

  • +15 votes

    My kids go public. My sisters kids go private. We made the choice to go primary because we felt the curriculum at the primary level is not much anyway. Our kids have done great in their public school with both being 1.5-2 years ahead of the curriculum. My sisters kid is also doing great at private - learning exactly the same thing; nothing extra - but they seem to have more discipline.

    At senior level; I would say private has more facilities, technology, better paid teachers - so would make more of a difference; especially if your child is interested in things and facilities that cost a lot of money. Public schools just don't have the funds to provide those facilities to the same level.

    • At senior level; I would say private has more facilities, technology, better paid teachers - so would make more of a difference; especially if your child is interested in things and facilities that cost a lot of money. Public schools just don't have the funds to provide those facilities to the same level.

      Wouldn't it be smarter to save the school fees and use the money to give your children music lessons, sports seasons, tutoring, etc etc? Then they can do what they want to do, not just what the school has facilities for, and your money is going directly to doing what your kids want and not paying for things for the school that aren't these activities

      • That only goes so far. For example, if a kid is interested in physics or chemistry - private school labs have the latest equipment and have all the chemicals available to do experiments. Public schools may not have a fully decked out lab.

        The engineering facilities in terms of 3D printers; metalworks; circuit board printing, etc that I have seen at some private schools - public schools have nothing in comparison.

        However, at the end of the day; it all comes down to the kid and their inclination to take advantage. If they are not academically inclined; private education is a waste of money.

        • +15 votes

          Private isn't entirely about facilities and academic scores.

          It is as much the exposure to captains of industry and social network with the influential. These are keys rarely even comprehended by those outside the circle.

          (I attended public schools but I am surrounded by those who attended private school.)

          • @tshow: How much of that is relevant at the secondary school level? I did not grow up in Australia; so have not been exposed to that.

            I met people at University and even there; I am rarely in touch with more than a couple of people I went to Uni with. Most of the social network actually came from my MBA that I did later in life.