Private schools – are they worth splashing out on?

For many people, sending their children to private school is a very personal matter. It may depend on whether the family has a tradition at a certain school or whether there is any availability in the particular catchment area. Benefits of a private education are clear. Many children graduating from such schools do so with higher grades and a higher chance of securing a place at a top university. However, the fees associated with such schools are often beyond most families budgets. So, is it really worth spending all that money on an education?

Private school success

Westminster School came top of the table with 86.8 per cent of exams awarded an A* and 98.3 per cent A* or A.

Barnaby Lenon, the council’s chairman, said private schools started moving to IGCSEs about 15 years ago because they thought they were more robust, challenging and interesting, and better preparation for A levels.


A new grading system

He encouraged schools to take a close look at the reformed GCSEs, which were introduced for maths and English this year, with the rest to follow in 2018 and 2019.

“Looking to the future, it’s obviously the case that many of the advantages the IGCSE had over the GCSE are no longer there, at least not to the same degree,” he said.

“My advice to schools is to keep an open mind, at the very least take a look at the GCSEs and ask yourself how they compare.” Many would wait to see how the new qualifications bed down before deciding whether to switch, he said.

Introducing a new system is always tricky. In this case, teachers have to familiarise themselves with a larger and more complex curriculum, as well as a new marking scheme with grades running from 9 to 1 instead of A* to G.

Private school GCSE results – Co-educational


The rise of independent schools

Mr Lenon said that if the grade 9 gains kudos among top universities, independent schools will not want to miss out. “The day may come when universities start looking at the grade 9 and you would be disadvantaged if you haven’t taken the exam that at least allows you access to the grade that is higher than the A*,” he said.

There have been teething problems. In order to ensure the first year of children taking the new exams were not unfairly penalised, the watchdog enforced new grade boundaries, so that roughly the same proportion of pupils got the top grade and reached the pass mark as previously.

That led to criticism when it emerged that the pass mark for a grade 4 was as low as 15 per cent at one board and about 17 per cent at the others.

So ultimately, it would seem that if there are no financial restrictions upon your family, a private education has a plethora of benefits for your children. The only drawbacks, it seems, are that privately educated children often lack the self motivation and drive other children may have since there education is always promised and of a high level. On the other hand, If money is an issue for your family, do not feel bad for withholding private education from them. There are many lessons (both life and educational) state schools can provide and if you choose wisely you will not regret the decision.