Private school

Private school

Private schools, also known as independent schools or nonstate schools,[1] are not administered by local, state or national governments; thus, they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition, rather than relying on mandatory taxation through public (government) funding, students can get a scholarship into a private school which makes the cost cheaper depending on a talent the student may have e.g. sport scholarship, art scholarship, academic scholarship etc.

In the United Kingdom and several other Commonwealth countries, the use of the term is generally restricted to primary and secondary educational levels; it is almost never used of universities and other tertiary institutions. Private education in North America covers the whole gamut of educational activity, ranging from pre-school to tertiary level institutions. Annual tuition fees at K-12 schools range from nothing at so called 'tuition-free' schools to more than $45,000 at several New England preparatory schools.

The secondary level includes schools offering years 7 through 12 (year twelve is known as lower sixth) and year 13 (upper sixth). This category includes university-preparatory schools or "prep schools", boarding schools and day schools. Tuition at private secondary schools varies from school to school and depends on many factors, including the location of the school, the willingness of parents to pay, peer tuitions and the school's financial endowment. High tuition, schools claim, is used to pay higher salaries for the best teachers and also used to provide enriched learning environments, including a low student to teacher ratio, small class sizes and services, such as libraries, science laboratories and computers. Some private schools are boarding schools and many military academies are privately owned or operated as well.

Religiously affiliated and denominational schools form a subcategory of private schools. Some such schools teach religious education, together with the usual academic subjects to impress their particular faith's beliefs and traditions in the students who attend. Others use the denomination as more of a general label to describe on what the founders based their belief, while still maintaining a fine distinction between academics and religion. They include parochial schools, a term which is often used to denote Roman Catholic schools. Other religious groups represented in the K-12 private education sector include Protestants, Jews, Muslims and the Orthodox Christians.

Many educational alternatives, such as independent schools, are also privately financed. Private schools often avoid some state regulations, although in the name of educational quality, most comply with regulations relating to the educational content of classes. Religious private schools often simply add religious instruction to the courses provided by local public schools.

Special assistance schools aim to improve the lives of their students by providing services tailored to very specific needs of individual students. Such schools include tutoring schools and schools to assist the learning of handicapped children.


Situation by country


Private schools are one of three types of school in Australia, the other two being government schools (state schools) and religious. Whilst private schools are sometimes considered 'public' schools (as in the Associated Public Schools of Victoria), the term 'public school' is usually synonymous with a government school.

Private schools in Australia may be favoured for many reasons: prestige and the social status of the 'old school tie'; better quality physical infrastructure and more facilities (e.g. playing fields, swimming pools, etc.), higher-paid teachers; and/or the belief that private schools offer a higher quality of education. Some schools offer the removal of the purported distractions of co-education; the presence of boarding facilities; or stricter discipline based on their power of expulsion, a tool not readily available to government schools. Student uniforms for Australian private schools are generally stricter and more formal than in government schools - for example, a compulsory blazer.

There are two main categories of private schools in Australia: Catholic schools and Independent schools.[2]

Catholic schools

Catholic schools form the second-largest sector after government schools, with around 21% of secondary enrollments. Most Australian Catholic schools belong to a system, like government schools, are typically co-educational and attempt to provide Catholic education evenly across the states. These schools are also known as 'systemic'. Systemic Catholic schools are funded mainly by state and federal government and have low fees.

There are also a substantial number of independent Catholic schools, often single-sex, usually run by established religious orders, such as the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Marist Brothers, De La Salle Brothers,(Missionary sisters of the society of Mary, SMSM) or the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Independent Catholic school fees vary, ranging from low to high. However, fees are typically lower than that of Independent schools and fee concessions for Catholic families facing financial difficulty are quite common.

Parramatta Marist High School, is the oldest Catholic school in Australia, established in 1820

Catholic schools, both systemic and independent, proclaim strong religious motivations and most often the majority of their staff and students will be Catholics.[2]

Independent schools

Independent schools make up the last sector and are the most popular form of schooling for boarding students. Independent schools are non-government institutions that are generally not part of a system.

Although most are non-aligned, some of the best known independent schools also belong to the large, long-established religious foundations, such as the Anglican Church, Uniting Church and Presbyterian Church, but in most cases, they do not insist on their students’ religious allegiance. These schools are typically viewed as 'elite schools'. Many of the 'grammar schools' also fall in this category. They are usually expensive schools that tend to be up-market and traditional in style, some Catholic schools fall into this category as well, e.g. St Joseph's College, Gregory Terrace, Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview, St Aloysius' College (Sydney) and St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, as well as Loreto Kirribilli, Monte Sant Angelo Mercy College and Normanhurst for girls. Many independent schools are quite new, often small and not traditional.


About 8% of Canadian students are educated in private schools, the majority of which are religious schools, with a minority regarded as elite private schools. Private schools have sometimes been controversial, with some in the media and in Ontario's Provincial Ministry of Education claiming that a private education gives students an unfair advantage.[3]


The right to create private schools in in Germany is in Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz and cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency. It is also not possible to abolish these rights. This unusual protection of private schools was implemented to protect these schools from a second Gleichschaltung or similar event in the future. Still, they are less common than in many other countries.

There are two types of private schools in Germany, Ersatzschulen (literally: substitute schools) and Ergänzungsschulen (literally: auxiliary schools). There are also private Hochschulen (private colleges and universities) in Germany, but similar to the UK, the term private school is almost never used of universities or other tertiary institutions.

Ersatzschulen are ordinary primary or secondary schools, which are run by private individuals, private organizations or religious groups. These schools offer the same types of diplomas as public schools. Ersatzschulen lack the freedom to operate completely outside of government regulation. Teachers at Ersatzschulen must have at least the same education and at least the same wages as teachers at public schools, an Ersatzschule must have at least the same academic standards as a public school and Article 7, Paragraph 4 of the Grundgesetz, also forbids segregation of pupils according to the means of their parents (the so called Sonderungsverbot). Therefore, most Ersatzschulen have very low tuition fees and/or offer scholarships, compared to most other Western European countries. However, it is not possible to finance these schools with such low tuition fees, which is why all German Ersatzschulen are additionally financed with public funds. The percentages of public money could reach 100% of the personnel expenditures. Nevertheless, Private Schools became insolvent in the past in Germany.

Ergänzungsschulen are secondary or post-secondary (non-tertiary) schools, which are run by private individuals, private organizations or rarely, religious groups and offer a type of education which is not available at public schools. Most of these schools are vocational schools. However, these vocational schools are not part of the German dual education system. Ergänzungsschulen have the freedom to operate outside of government regulation and are funded in whole by charging their students tuition fees.


In the Republic of Ireland, private schools (Irish: scoil phríobháideach) are unusual due to the fact that a certain number of teacher's salaries are paid by the State. If the school wishes to employ extra teachers they are paid for with school fees, which tend to be relatively low in Ireland compared to the rest of the world. There is, however, a limited element of state assessment of private schools, because of the requirement that the state ensure that children receive a certain minimum education; Irish private schools must still work towards the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate, for example. Many private schools in Ireland also double as boarding schools. The average fee is around €5,000 annually for most schools, but some of these schools also provide boarding and the fees may then rise up to €25,000 per year. The fee-paying schools are usually run by a religious order, i.e., the Society of Jesus or Congregation of Christian Brothers, etc.

There are also a small number of private international schools in Ireland, including a French school, a Japanese school and a German school.


In much of Nepal, the schooling offered by the state governments would technically come under the category of "public schools". They are federal or state funded and have zero or very minimal fees.

The other category of schools are those run and partly or fully funded by private individuals, private organizations and religious groups. The ones that accept government funds are called 'aided' schools. The private 'un-aided' schools are fully funded by private parties. The standard and the quality of education is quite high. Technically, these would be categorized as private schools, but many of them have the name "Public School" appended to them, e.g., the Galaxy Public School in Kathmandu. Most of the middle class families send their children to such schools, which might be in their own city or far off, like boarding schools. The medium of education is English, but as a compulsory subject, Nepali and/or the state's official language is also taught. Preschool education is mostly limited to organized neighbourhood nursery schools.


In The Netherlands over two-thirds of state-funded schools operate autonomously, with many of these schools being linked to faith groups.[4] The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average.[5]


Oman retains a number of independent private coeducational day schools of international renown and a majority of which are private educational grammar establishments offering Classics beyond Latin and Greek to include the ancient literary studies of Sanskrit, Hebrew and Arabic. Notable ones include the American British Academy, the British School Muscat, the Indian School Al Ghubra and The Sultan's School (also see List of Private Schools in Oman).


In the Philippines, the private sector has been a major provider of educational services, accounting for about 7.5% of primary enrollment, 32% of secondary enrollment and about 80% of tertiary enrollment. Private schools have proven to be efficient in resource utilization. Per unit costs in private schools are generally lower when compared to public schools. This situation is more evident at the tertiary level. Government regulations have given private education more flexibility and autonomy in recent years, notably by lifting the moratorium on applications for new courses, new schools and conversions, by liberalizing tuition fee policy for private schools, by replacing values education for third and fourth years with English, mathematics and natural science at the option of the school, and by issuing the revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in August 1992.

The Education Service Contracting scheme of the government provides financial assistance for tuition and other school fees of students turned away from public high schools because of enrollment overflows. The Tuition Fee Supplement is geared to students enrolled in priority courses in post-secondary and non-degree programmes, including vocational and technical courses. The Private Education Student Financial Assistance is made available to underprivileged, but deserving Filipino high school graduates, who wish to pursue college/technical education in private colleges and universities.

In the school year 2001/02, there were 4,529 private elementary schools (out of a total of 40,763) and 3,261 private secondary schools (out of a total of 7,683). In 2002/03, there were 1,297 private higher education institutions (out of a total of 1,470).


In Portugal, private schools were traditionally set up by foreign expatriates and diplomats in order to cater for their educational needs. Portuguese speaking private schools are mainly concentrated in Lisbon and Porto. The Ministério da Educação acts as the supervisory and regulatory body for all schools, including international schools.


In Singapore, after Primary School Leaving Examination or PSLE for short, students can choose to enter a private high school.

South Africa

Some of the oldest schools in South Africa are private church schools that were established by missionaries in the early nineteenth century. The private sector has grown ever since. After the abolition of apartheid, the laws governing private education in South Africa changed significantly. The South African Schools Act of 1996 recognises two categories of schools: "public" (state-controlled) and "independent" (which includes traditional private schools and schools which are privately-governed.)

Schools previously called semi-private or model C schools are not private schools, as they are ultimately state-controlled.

South African private schools represent some of the finest in the world. More notably, there are far more quality boys' schools as compared to girls' schools. Private schools, such as King David Schools, Michaelhouse, St John's College, Diocesan College, King Edward VII School, Hilton College, Kearsney College, Thomas More College, St Stithians College and St Andrew's College, Grahamstown consistently turn out top pupils.


In Sweden, pupils are free to choose a private school and the private school gets paid the same amount as municipal schools. Over 10% of Swedish pupils were enrolled in private schools in 2008. Sweden is internationally known for this innovative school voucher model that provides Swedish pupils with the opportunity to choose the school they prefer.[6][7][8][9][10] For instance, the biggest school chain, Kunskapsskolan (“The Knowledge School”), offers 30 schools and a web-based environment, has 700 employees and teaches nearly 10,000 pupils.[6]

The Swedish system has been recommended to Barack Obama.[11]

United Kingdom

Private schools generally prefer to be called independent schools, because of their freedom to operate outside of government and local government control, but are also referred to as public schools. The reason is historical as a 'public school' was open to entrants from anywhere, and not merely to those from a certain locality, which was more usual with other schools, often charitable foundations for the benefit of a particular area. It was also usual for those attending public schools to enter the public service, such as the armed forces, the church, the civil service or local government. The 'independent school' factor partly exonerates this 'obligation'.

According to The Good Schools Guide: "Approximately 7 per cent of children in education [in the UK] are at fee-paying schools." It is unclear what proportion of parents can "afford" to forgo free state education. Those who are induced to do so have a wide variety of different motives, including: • academic standards, which are generally higher,[12] than those found in schools in the state sector • a wider education, taught in longer school hours, with subjects, options or levels beyond the national curriculum • well-endowed facilities, sometimes in historic buildings with extensive grounds • lower pupil-teacher ratios, and teaching staff attracted by higher salaries • extra-curricular opportunities, available due to the longer school days, commonly in sport, drama and music, but also many other possible fields • a distinctive educational tradition; or one with particular characteristics not offered at local state schools (such as a stage school, religious instruction, boarding education, classical studies, a more competitive ethos, or a particular theory of education) • perceived social advantages or privileges, including the "public-school accent" and networking • a family tradition of attending a particular school, which may have lasted for generations • offers of unacceptable state schools

Many independent schools are single-sex (though this is becoming less common).[13]

Fees range from under £1,000 per term to £7,000 and above per term for a day pupil, with wide variations depending on the age of the child, the staff/pupil ratio and so on – and up to £9,000+ per term for boarding.[14] Many parents must make substantial sacrifices to afford such fees, but there may be a large number of scholarships and burasaries available.

Independent primary schools are called preparatory schools, preparing pupils not for admission to a university as in the United States, but to an independent secondary school, which admit pupils taking into account their academic achievement as measured by the Common Entrance Exam.

Such independent secondary schools are often called public schools, though this term is primarily used of schools which are members of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Many of these schools are boarding schools.

Many private schools in England and Wales have a history of helping the disadvantaged, whether or not they have charitable foundations. One in four children come from postcodes on or below national average income and one in three receives fee assistance.[15] However, since actual pupils' family incomes, which may be well above the average for a particular postcode area, were not determined, these figures are potentially unreliable.

Many private schools have a stated religious character, although this does not generally aim at pupils' religious indoctrination and does not preclude pupils of other faiths attending if they wish. Religion is not as important an aspect in the majority of parents' decision to send their child to an independent school as it is in the United States.[citation needed]

Until the 1970s, all state school students were required to sit an 11+ exam at that age, and the more able students would then be offered a place at a local grammar school, as opposed to a secondary modern school. Although these have generally been replaced by all ability comprehensive schools, some grammar schools (often the ones with an established heritage) were able to become independent.

Although many of the independent schools in England and Wales aim at the highest academic standards, a small number have been established to provide support for those experiencing difficulties in mainstream education. About half of the schools specialising in special educational needs are private schools.

On August 15, 2010 The Observer reported that the gap between the A Level achievement at private schools and that at state schools in the UK was set to widen, with three times as many privately educated students achieving the new grade A*. The paper also noted that according to the fair access watchdog bright students from the poorest backgrounds are seven times less likely to go to a top university than their richer peers.[16]

United States

In the United States, the term "private school" can be correctly applied to any school for which the facilities and funding are not provided by the federal, state or local government; as opposed to a "public school", which is operated by the government or in the case of charter schools, independently with government funding and regulation. The majority of private schools in the United States are operated by religious institutions and organizations.[17]

Private schools are generally exempt from most educational regulations, but tend to follow the spirit of regulations concerning the content of courses in an attempt to provide a level of education equal to or better than that available in public schools. Additionally, many students (particularly those at the transition between primary and secondary school) transfer to a public school and therefore, require similar preparation to that available in public schools.

In the nineteenth century, as a response to the perceived domination of the public school systems by Protestant political and religious ideas, many Roman Catholic parish churches, dioceses and religious orders established schools, which operate entirely without government funding. For many years, the vast majority of private schools in the United States were Catholic schools. A similar perception (possibly relating to the evolution vs. creationism debates) emerged in the late twentieth century among Protestants, which has resulted in the widespread establishment of new, private schools.[citation needed]

In many parts of the United States, after the 1954 decision in the landmark court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that demanded US schools desegregate "with all deliberate speed", local families organized a wave of private "Christian academies". In much of the US South, many white students migrated to the academies, while public schools became in turn more heavily concentrated with African American students (see List of private schools in Mississippi). The academic content of the academies was usually College Preparatory. Since the 1970s, many of these "segregation academies" have shut down, although some continue to operate.

Funding for private schools is generally provided through student tuition, endowments, scholarship/voucher funds, and donations and grants from religious organizations or private individuals. Government funding for religious schools is either subject to restrictions or possibly forbidden, according to the courts' interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Non-religious private schools theoretically could qualify for such funding, but prefer the advantages of independent control of their student admissions and course content.

A similar concept, recently emerging from within the public school system, is the concept of "charter schools", which are technically independent public schools, but in many respects operate similarly to non-religious private schools.

Private schooling in the United States has been debated by educators, lawmakers and parents, since the beginnings of compulsory education in Massachusetts in 1852. The Supreme Court precedent appears to favor educational choice, so long as states may set standards for educational accomplishment. Some of the most relevant Supreme Court case law on this is as follows: Runyon v. McCrary, 427 U.S. 160 (1976); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972); Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923).

There is a potential conflict between the values espoused in the above cited cases and the limitations set forward in Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is below described.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Zaidi, Mosharraf. "Mosharraf Zaidi: Why we wanted to believe what Greg Mortenson was selling." National Post. April 20, 2011. Retrieved on April 20, 2011.
  2. ^ a b The National Education Directory Australia: Private Schools in Australia (accessed:07-08-2007)
  3. ^ Burgmann, Tamsyn (2009-08-10). "'Buying a credit' trend worrying for educators". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  4. ^ Coughlan, Sean (2003-02-11). "State-funded self-rule in Dutch schools". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Making money from schools: The Swedish model". The Economist. 2008-06-12. 
  7. ^ "Made in Sweden: the new Tory education revolution". The Spectator. 2008. 
  8. ^ Baker, Mike (2004-10-05). "Swedish parents enjoy school choice". BBC. 
  9. ^ "Embracing private schools: Sweden lets companies use taxes for cost-efficient alternatives". Washington Times. 2008. 
  10. ^ Munkhammar, Johnny (2007-05-25). "How choice has transformed education in Sweden". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  11. ^ Lance T. Izumi. "Sweden’s Choice: Why the Obama Administration Should Look to Europe for a School Voucher Program that Works". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-22. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ "ISC Annual Census 2007". 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  14. ^ "Help and advice on finding the right school for your child". The Good Schools Guide. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  15. ^ "ISC Social Diversity Study". 2006-03-01. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  16. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan (2010-08-15). "A-level results: Public schools expected to take lion's share of new A* grades". The Guardian (London). 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Witham, Joan. (1997). "Public or private schools? A dilemma for gifted students?" Roeper Review, 19, pp. 137–141.


External links

National and International Private School Associations

Private School Statistics

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • private school — private schools N VAR A private school is a school which is not supported financially by the government and which parents have to pay for their children to go to. He attended Eton, the most exclusive private school in Britain. Syn: public school… …   English dictionary

  • private school — ► NOUN 1) Brit. an independent school supported mainly by the payment of fees. 2) N. Amer. a school supported mainly by private individuals …   English terms dictionary

  • private school — n a school that is not supported by government money, where education must be paid for by the children s parents →↑public school, state school ↑state school …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • private school — noun count a school providing education that the children s parents pay for directly. A public school provides education that is paid for by the government …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • private school — noun a school established and controlled privately and supported by endowment and tuition (Freq. 3) • Hypernyms: ↑school • Hyponyms: ↑seminary, ↑day school, ↑boarding school * * * noun, pl ⋯ schools [count] : a school that does …   Useful english dictionary

  • Private School — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel Private School – Die Superanmacher Originaltitel Private School …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • private school — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms private school : singular private school plural private schools a school providing education that the children s parents pay for directly …   English dictionary

  • private school — A school organized and maintained by a private person or corporation. State v Counort, 69 Wash 361, 124 P 910. A school organized and managed by individuals, and not by the public as an institution of the state. Livingston v Davis, 243 Iowa 21,… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • private school — noun Private school is used before these nouns: ↑principal …   Collocations dictionary

  • private school — nevalstybinė mokykla statusas Aprobuotas sritis švietimas apibrėžtis Mokykla, kurios savininkė ar viena iš dalininkų nėra valstybė ar savivaldybė. atitikmenys: angl. private school šaltinis Lietuvos Respublikos švietimo įstatymo pakeitimo… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

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