MORE than half of parents would send their child to private school if they could afford to, while almost 60 per cent believe that the educational standards are lower in state schools than fee-paying ones, a new poll has claimed.
Many believe that private schools provide a better standard of education, according to the survey, commissioned by the Independent Schools Council (ISC).
The ISC represents eight private school associations, listing the likes of Edinburgh’s Fettes College and Mary Erskine School, and Glasgow’s Hutchesons’ Grammar School on its website. It also has ties to the Scottish Council of Independent Schools.
The survey found that of the 590 parents questioned, 57 per cent said they would educate their child privately if they had the money, a rise of 6 per cent since 1997.
Of those that would send their child to private school, 51 per cent said these schools had better standards of education, 15 per cent said they would educate their child privately because they have smaller classes and 14 per cent said it was a better start to life.
In total, 2,075 adults were questioned, with 59 per cent saying educational standards in state schools are lower than the standards in fee-paying schools, while 23 per cent said that they are about the same, it found. Just 6 per cent said that standards are higher in state schools, and the rest did not know.
Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, the ISC’s deputy general secretary and head of research, said: “This survey shows that the public increasingly recognise the exceptional quality of education provided by independent schools.
“The strength of these schools lies in their ability and commitment to offer a bespoke education to their pupils, giving them the very best start in life.
“That more parents than ever would like to send their children to an independent school is clearly reflected in the rise in pupil numbers in ISC schools this year.”
However, teaching unions hit back at the findings last night. Alan McKenzie, depute general secretary of Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, said: “I think it’s wrong in the same way that you cannot compare apples and pears. Comparing academic standards at a private school and a state school, you just can’t do it.
“But I’m not surprised that many parents are indicating they would prefer their children were in an independent school because there are whole lot of other reasons and advantages that they have that clearly state schools can’t match – particularly in the ethos of the school and the extra-curricular activities that are on offer – but I don’t think you can make intelligent comparisons in terms of academic achievement and exam performance, I think that’s fatuous.”
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, added: “Independent school educate only 7 per cent of children and young people in this country. They select pupils on the basis of the ability to pay whereas the state sector deals with the children from all backgrounds and does an excellent job.”