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Teaching at Private Vs Public Schools – The pros and cons

At some stage in your teaching career you may come across an opportunity to make a change in your teaching environment.  Whether you are currently teaching in a public school and considering making the switch to private or if you are the other way round, we have looked into some pros and cons that come with each.


Public – The law requires public schools to admit all students, without discrimination. Taxes fund public schools, but different counties receive different levels of funding, affecting the available resources in a classroom, among other things.

Private schools – Charge tuition and typically use a selective admissions process. The price of attendance often becomes a factor in determining the socio-economic makeup of the student body, although some private schools offer scholarships to students with demonstrated financial need.

The information above identifies many differences straight away. With public schools being funded by the UK Government, this means that the class sizes tend to be larger with a diverse mix of children.  Private schools tend to be smaller in class size with above average abilities due to the selective process.

Private schools have a stricter uniform policy which tends to apply for the teachers as well.  Public schools share the same policy where students must be presentable in the correct uniform however, this does not usually apply to the teaching staff.

If you are expecting fine dining at a public school, you might be disheartened. School diners that are funded by the government may not be as appealing in comparison to a private school dinner where the fine cutlery and white table cloth trumps the cold bench and dinner tray.


According to the National Education Association, “teachers spend an average of 50 hours per week on instructional duties, including an average of 12 hours each week on non-compensated school-related activities such as grading papers, bus duty, and club advising. With that being said, is there a difference in pay between the public school teacher vs the private?

It’s difficult to compare pay across the two sectors because salaries in private education are at the discretion of the school.  However, a private school teacher can find many pros and cons, but pay may be the biggest negative. Private school teachers generally earn less than their public school counterparts as teacher salaries at private schools come out of student tuition.

It’s not only pay that is a concern for teachers at a private school, the budget seems to be everyone’s as well. Private schools don’t receive the government funding that public schools do, so tuition and advancement (fundraising) are cornerstones of the private school budget process.

To conclude, I believe that the decision comes down to the Teacher, neither public nor private school is for every teacher. If smaller classes with fewer disciplinary interruptions and more focus on academics are important to you then this may outweigh the pay difference as a private school teacher. On the other hand, if larger classes with diverse population and the challenges that public education bring then public might be for you.

Regardless of the public or private environment, a teacher is responsible for moulding the future of every student by educating, inspiring and being the role model a young person requires. Now that’s a reward in itself and isn’t that why you got into teaching in the first place?

Share your thoughts below.

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