Public versus Private: Which is best for your kids?

Tahlia and Jacob Lymbery at students at St Eugene College. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News
Tahlia and Jacob Lymbery at students at St Eugene College. Photo Vicki Wood / Caboolture News Vicki Wood

WITH back-to-school time just around the corner, the public-versus-private school debate is back in the spotlight, and is one that can cause angst for parents.

Price is often a swaying factor in the decision, but there are plenty of other arguments for and against either side.

So where do you stand?

Natasha Christian speaks with parents on how they made their decision.



FOR Marie Dawson, the decision to send her daughter Kaitlyn to Bribie State High School was made easy with the help of her primary school principal.

Ms Dawson was searching for a school that would continue a high-quality music program similar to what her daughter had experienced at Banksia Beach State School.

"Principal Jacqui King mentioned she worked closely with Bribie High School. That's why we decided to send her there. A lot of her friends go there as well," she said.

"Based on what Ms King has said, we are going to stick with Bribie."

While Kaitlyn was yet to start high school, she already had plans for the future to study at university to become a lawyer.

Marie felt sending her to a public school would place her at no disadvantage to achieve this.

"We've met with the counsellor and vice-principal at Bribie and we are very excited."

A bit of an all-rounder, Kaitlyn is also keen on sports. However, Marie felt sport was not a reason to sway decisions on schools.

"We will put her into a club. Sporting is good, but for the future, you need the academic sector," she said.

As for primary schools, Marie was also getting ready to start her son in grade one at Banksia Beach.

"He will be taking part in the music program as well," she said.


Pros and cons of public schools

Pro: Money can be saved for future expenses such as university, travelling and first car.

Pro: Some say it's more "real world" experience, with wider socio-economic and ethnic diversity.

Pro/con: Not affiliated with any religion.

Pro/con: Only co-ed.

Con: Generally larger class sizes.

Con: Relies solely on government funding, which can be limited.



THERESA Lymbery knew she had made the right decision in sending her children to St Eugene Catholic College when her daughter Tahlia graduated as vice-captain with an OP 4.

With her son Jacob about to start Year 11, Theresa was confident he would go down a similar path.

"Our major concern with putting the kids into the state system when the time came was that they would be lost in the system," she said.

"The state primary schools in the region are so large, with so many preschoolers/preppies starting on day one, and I hated the thought of them being just another face in the crowd."

She said St Eugene offered a smaller school with a community where she felt welcomed from the first time she walked through the gates.

"We started with the parents' group, where we met families that were already enrolled into the school and had older children attending and had positive feedback from them."

While she said she was concerned about the costs, she said the close-knit community made it worth it for her kids.

"I feel that they have more connection with the community and community issues," she said.

"St Eugene has a buddy system that buddies big kids with little kids, which makes the transition from lower to middle to upper school grades easier.

"It gives the little kids a personal connection with seniors so they don't appear big and scary, and it gives the seniors a sense of responsibility. I feel that this gives the kids more confidence and that certainly would be an advantage in later life."

While Theresa acknowledged that the public system was a better choice for a lot of families, she felt the private system was the right choice for her family.

"We wanted our children to have the best education available and were concerned about falling through the cracks in the public system. However, I think if you have gifted or remedial students, that the public system is a better alternative."


Pros and cons of a private school

Pro: Smaller class sizes

Pro: Often private schools span primary and high school, making the school run a lot easier

Pro: Boarding facilities

Pro/con: Single-sex education available

Con: Some have suggested it is a "sheltered environment"

Con: There can be more pressure to achieve to maintain prestige.


What do you think? Let us know at

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