Australians reveal what really goes into choosing a private school



With a growing number of parents choosing to educate their children privately, NAB research reveals what Australians feel separates private from public school education. The main differences include quality of facilities and teachers, level of discipline and academic results.

The top reason Australians prefer the private system is the quality of facilities. This is much less important to younger parents who often place more significance on a school’s educational philosophy, ranking tables and social media.

Sporting and recreational facilities are also valued more by younger parents. Conversely, a high standard of behaviour, discipline, uniforms, history and reputation are more important to older parents and grandparents.

NAB Executive for Education, Biljana Nikolova, said the survey revealed a very positive view of private education from parents. However, there are also clear opportunities for private schools to better recognise the key considerations made by parents when choosing a school.

“It’s no surprise parents value strong academic performance and a focus on literacy and numeracy when choosing schools,” Ms Nikolova said.

“But it might surprise some private schools how important it is to balance education with fun, happiness and the wellbeing of children.”

Children have a growing and important voice in deciding which school they ultimately attend. Over one in two were ‘very’ involved and one in four ‘completely’ involved in the final selection. Younger parents are also much more likely to involve their children in the selection of a school.

“Private schools will benefit from understanding that younger parents might value things differently,” Ms Nikolova said.

St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, Brisbane, Queensland

“While we are starting to see some important intergenerational differences, there is something every Australian private school can take away from this research. Those with high-class facilities, the best teachers and strong academic results will continue to attract new families.”

Principal of St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, Brisbane, Toni Riordan, said; “At St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School, we have seen a real shift in what parents and caregivers value when it comes to choosing a school. We are increasingly investing in our programs and facilities that assist student wellbeing and opportunities to support education.”

“We are also seeing that young people have more of a voice when it comes to selecting a school. It’s a very interesting dynamic when you can see children driving the choice to be part of our unique St Aidan’s community. When that happens they often feel more invested in their school experience from the very outset.”


Notes to editors:

·        The survey revealed that most children will enter the private system early, with parents strongly preferring co-education. The majority of parents started (or are considering starting) in preschool (13%) or prep / kindergarten (23%). Over one in four during primary school years (26%), and a further one in four at the beginning of high school (27%). Just over two in 10 (22%) either started or plan to start in private schools after year seven.

·        NAB’s Education Insight Report, 2021 focuses on Australians who have sent (or plan to send future children) to a private school, and why they made that choice.

·        The survey is based on the responses of over 1,000 Australians from a range of educational backgrounds. 32% of respondents attended a private independent school, 31% a private Catholic school, 42% a public Government school, and 2% other schools.



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