Private v. public education costs


The Rev Tim Hastie-Smith, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, claimed that fee-paying schools work out cheaper because millions of pounds of public money is spent on bureaucracy.

His claims come as research for the Independent Schools Council found state school education cost at least £9,000 per child per year. The average cost of putting a child through private school is £9,069 per year, but some charge less.

Mr Hastie-Smith said that the total state education budget for the last school year was £77.7 billion but claimed that there were “enormous extra costs from bureaucracy and monitoring” that were unaccounted for.

Given the source, a little salt is required with that, but that it\’s even nearly true, given the huge disparity in outcomes, tells us that there\’s something severely wrong with the way that we spend money in the state school system.

5 thoughts on “Private v. public education costs”

  1. In countries without restrictions on private education the cost of private schools undercuts the price state education by a large margin.

  2. All that the figures suggest is that it costs £9,000 per year to successfully educate a child from a stable, supportive family. Suprficially, it appears that private and public sector schools spend about as much, and that ownership is irrelevant.

    The figures don’t say how much it costs to successfully educate children from disfunctional families, but we can guess that it is a lot more. This requires that the median child receives less than £9,000 per year in state educational spending. So we are not comparing state educated apples with privately educated ones.

    Nine thousand quid for secondary school education sounds bizarre anyway. That’ll buy a non-EU citizen a year’s education in a UK university for a BA, with the university making a profit.

  3. Indeed – it might cost upwards of £20k per year to educate someone from such a dysfunctional family that they need to offload the child on a remote pseud-family near Windsor! (declaration of interest; my psuedo-family was in Staffordshire and I would go through it all again such did I enjoy it and would love to see the opportunity extended to more people if they might benefit from it).

    Seriously though, if at 7% or whatever the figure now is of children being educated privately, were that to expand significantly you can be sure that there would be savings. I noticed the other day that whatsisname – former Chief Inspector of Schools, not Mike Rowbotham, has built up a company of forty or so private schools all over the country none of which as far as I can see charge anywhere near this average (though it’s difficult to tell as most of them seem to be primary/preparatory level).

    Charlieman, how many contact hours do you think that non-EU citizen gets in a UK university? Compared to school kids – let’s say that’s thirty hours when you exclude meals and breaks for about 40 weeks – ours at university will likely get around sixteen hours for 30 weeks and about half of that may effectively be in classes of a hundred or more (lectures).

    I do think the £9k figure is high, because it doesn’t factor in FE/HE in the education budget overall, which takes up several billions and if you simply divide by all kids of school age I’m sure it comes in much, much lower than that (I think when I looked into it last it was more like £5k a year when you included capital budgets).

    I think the highest revenue costs though are in early years, especially nursery places, and not in secondary schools. And, if they were doing a good job, this would probably be a good investment.

    But however much it costs, it’s not worth it, it would appear, at the moment, if business leaders seem to suggest that after eleven years of compulsory state education up to 43% of them may be fundtionally illiterate. As Jim Hacker once asked, astonished, “you mean the state of education in Britain today is what they [Department of Education] planned?”

  4. “The figures don’t say how much it costs to successfully educate children from disfunctional families, but we can guess that it is a lot more. This requires that the median child receives less than £9,000 per year in state educational spending.”

    I agree.
    That is why there is so much public pressure for vouchers. Taxpayers don’t like their own kids being short changed.

    And it is futile to throw extra money and resources at the kids from the dysfunctional families without addressing the issues they have that make them disruptive, and sometimes violent.

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